The South African New Play Writing Programme

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Calling all Writers

Apply to be part of The South African New Play Writing Programme

The vision for The South African New Play Writing Programme is that it will provide support to playwrights, says Ashraf Johaardien of the Wits Theatre.

The Wits Theatre, in partnership with the British Council, the Department of Arts and Culture and Sustained Theatre, UK is pleased to announce the launch of The South African New Play Writing Programme.

“The Programme will include the sharing of new play development programmes in the UK with a focus on development of theatre writers in South Africa,” explains Pervaiz Khan of Sustained Theatre, UK. The process will see writers in SA and the UK sharing extant and new scripts as well as developing a process for the exchange of dramaturgical support. In collaboration with theatres and higher education institutions, the Programme will also seek opportunities for collaboration and co-production with a view to touring work, readings of work in progress, showcases, artists’ and writers’ exchange,” adds Khan.

“For the British Council, this is an opportunity to join South African talent and UK art forms and in so doing, enable them to experience the transformational dialogue effect of the arts,’’ states Deputy Director of the British Council.

“The Department of Arts and Culture sees this as an historic partnership which aims to equip a new generation of South African writers with skills that will enable them to develop dramatic work that resonates with the challenges of the world around them,” states Professor Keorapetse Kgogsitsile, Special Adviser to the Minister of Arts & Culture.

The first phase of the programme will comprise writing workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town with local writers to be facilitated by Patricia Cumper and Ola Animashawun from the UK who will be joined by two South African writers. The workshops will be aimed at people who are already writing but may not be writing for theatre so it is a chance for them to explore the medium of theatre.

The Johannesburg workshop will take place on 25 and 26 January 2011 and the Cape Town workshop on 27 and 28 January 2011. Interested writers are invited to submit applications as a single Word document no longer than 5 pages with the following information:

– one-page CV including contact details,
– one page letter of motivation
– three-page writing sample.

Applications should be submitted via e-mail to by no later than 26 November 2010. The selection process will be facilitated by The Arts & Culture Trust, South Africa premier independent arts funding and development agency. There will be a number of bursaries covering accommodation and travel for writers selected from outside of Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Notes to Editors

The Wits Theatre: A world-class South African performing arts and training facility, The Wits Theatre comprises the Wits Main Theatre, Wits Downstairs Theatre, enclosed Wits Amphitheatre, Wits Great Hall and the Nunnery, more than 2000 cutting-edge South African and international theatre productions have been staged in our venues for over 25 years. Wits School of Arts productions presented in association with Wits Theatre, range from drama and classical music to dance, contemporary music and multimedia presentations. Wits Theatre also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year as well as work by visiting companies.

The British Council: As part of its creative arts project called New Work New Audiences, British Council aims to find new audiences by exploring the artistic mediums of creative writing, visual arts film, music and design and build on relations between the UK and South Africa, through increased collaboration of the creative industries such as the SA New Writing Programme.

The Department of Arts and Culture: One of the aims of the Department of Arts and Culture is to improve economic and other development opportunities for South African arts and culture nationally and globally through mutually beneficial partnerships, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the sector. Through investing in this programme, the department of Arts and Culture is creating opportunities for writers to sharpen their skills and for South African cultural products to become a source of income and prestige for local writers and the country at large.

Sustained Theatre Sustained Theatre is a UK artists’ network. It works to ensure artists transform the future of our national arts landscape to reflect the diverse and vibrant talent that exists in British society. Sustained Theatre keeps issues relating to Black, Asian and minority ethnic theatre artists and practitioners alive and in the national debate. Sustained Theatre wants to create more opportunities to share skills and knowledge with artists from outside of Britain. Developing partnerships overseas is key to Sustained Theatre’s international work.

The UK writers/workshop leaders:

Patricia Cumper: Patricia began writing for radio when she wrote and produced two of the most popular radio soaps in Jamaica. Both had a regular listenership of one in three Jamaicans. In the UK Patricia has regularly written for BBC World Service as one of the core writers on the radio soap Westway and as adaptor of both plays and books. For BBC Radio 4, she has written four single plays and series including a five part series based on her mother’s life that won the RIMA radio drama award. She also adapted Andrea Levy’s award winning novel Small Island in fifteen parts and The Color Purple in ten parts. She won a Sony Silver award for the latter. She contributed to the BBC Radio 4 series Writing The Century created by dramatising actual diaries and letters. She is currently adapting a novel by Zora Neale Hurston for the World Service. From 2002 to 2006, Patricia taught a course in writing for radio at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. She is the Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company.

Ola Animashawun: As a producer, dramaturg, director and youth drama worker for the Royal Court Theatre, Ola has inspired, tutored, cajoled, created, made and influenced the young, the not so young, the black, the white, the other, the bi-lingual, the multi-lingual, the visiting, the seekers, the leaving, the homeless, the disabled, the NEET, the tidy, those living with HIV, those living in cyberspace, in Poland, in Hungary, in Australia, in New Zealand – on the stages of the Royal Court Theatre, The Belgrade Theatre, The Dundee Rep, on national radio, in community centres, in schools, in hospitals, in colleges, in youth centres, under railway arches, in dilapidated buildings, under Hammersmith Bridge – since 1994. From 1998 to 2008 Ola was the founder and Head of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme (youth, community, and education department). He is Associate Director Royal Court Theatre (part time). Ola is also a freelance consultant, script editor and presenter. TMA Award Winner for promoting diversity in the industry (2007). Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea recipient of a Mayor’s Award for Services to young people (2009).

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