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ABOUT FTHK
About the Company
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Founders

Founders

If you're looking for someone to blame, it was these two. They did it. True, they roped in a number of other crazies along the way without whom the FTH:K dream would never have been realised, but it all started with Tanya and Rob. Or Tink and Ugli. Depends on how you know them.

They could take you through many a night spent drinking beer at Champs Bar or Pop Art or Wellie's, discussing a company that did not yet have a name - although from the hip was already on Rob's lips - but you'd probably get bored before we got to the important bits. Or drunk. No wait...that was them...basically, Rob wanted to create a collective, a company, a group of clowns. Tanya was interested in working with artists with disabilities, in particular the Deaf community. Jump forward from the beer and late-night talks and lo, they put their two creative visions together and created from the hip. Pulling Nhlanhla Mavundla, Qaqambile Feliti and Lungelo Sitimela into the party in 2005, "khulumakahle" was added to the name and FTH:K was formally established.

Until 2012, Tink and Ugli were the driving force behind the growing momentum of the company as a complimentary leadership team of both creative and managerial vision. Together with a number of people, most significantly Liez, Lysander, Marlon, and Floss, the Company entered The GUMBO Phase and took off both locally and internationally. It has been growing and evolving every since. In 2012, they handed the reins over to new leadership and, as recognised as leaders in their respective fields, are exploring new opportunities in both foreign and local lands.

Tanya Surtees

Co-Founder & Company Director
Tanya co-founded FTH:K together with Rob Murray in 2004, two years before it established itself officially in 2006. A theatre-maker with an Honours degree from Rhodes University and training in mime, clowning and contemporary dance, she was responsible for devising and implementing the Company's groundbreaking performance and education programmes, with her particular passion being the integration of the Deaf and hearing communities. Her performance GUMBO toured extensively nationally and internationally, and in 2008 was awarded the prestigious Arts and Culture Trust award for the Creative Industries.

From 2007, Tanya shifted her focus offstage to the promotion and development of Arts Management, and in 2008, became one of two South Africans to be awarded a 3-year International Summer Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Through her training, she was able to significantly develop the Company's profile both locally and internationally, and established FTH:K as one of South Africa's leading independent theatre companies. In 2010, she set up a partnership with a DC-based theatre company and in 2011 relocated to DC to broker the Artsbridge International Exchange. Still serving as FTH:K's Company Director, she acts as a consultant to the Company's leadership while sourcing international opportunities for FTH:K's performance and financial portfolios.

She has co-authored learner books for both MML and Cambridge University Press, is fluent in English, French and South African Sign Language, is learning American Sign Language, and is training to become an interpreter for theatre. All this while promoting sound Arts Management as the key to success in any arts organisation.
Tanya Surtees

Rob Murray

Co-Founder & founding Artistic Director
AKA “Ugli Bob”, Rob is a founder member and original Artistic Director of FTH:K. From its inception, he was charged with developing the Company’s signature approach to non-verbal, visual, and clowning performance, and racked up a number of impressive creations such as the smash hits Benchmarks, Womb Tide, Pictures of You, QUACK!, and ‘Nuff Sed.

Apart from steering the Company and its special projects, Rob was also responsible for developing the Company’s performance training pedagogy. Over and above that, he is an active theatre maker and educator, directing shows like the cult classic The Dog’s Bollocks (for Gaëtan Schmid), the award-winning Birds’ Eye View (with Porteus Xandau and Keenan Arrison), and dumbshow (for CityVarsity). He has also performed in a number of shows, the foremost being as the overbearing Innkeeper in FTH:K’s award-winning GUMBO that toured all over South Africa, to Germany, and Argentina.

Rob holds an MA in Contemporary Performance from Rhodes University, training under South African theatre maestro Andrew Buckland, and is also trained as a theatre technician, in theatre management and administration. He is a co-author of MML's Arts and Culture textbook as part of their Today Series, and keeps a blog.

A continual work-in-progress, Rob is currently the Resident Director for Ubom! in Grahamstown, but remains part of the FTH:K team as both a supporter and a collaborator.
Rob Murray