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Enter your winning theatre script

Following it’s hugely successful 10th anniversary in early March, South Africa’s leading development theatre platform, the Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival, is calling for applications for the 2021 season, which will be different from previous years.

The Zabalaza team has come up with a new and exciting model for applications with the introduction of a Script Writing Programme, which came about in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic and its effects.

This new approach to the application process is a result of SA’s State of Disaster and the government’s implementation of a national lockdown. In this way Zabalaza can continue its planning of theatre programmes for 2021, while considering the importance of a safer alternative to working on theatre productions.

The Script Writing Programme will serve as a foundation phase in the first round of the selection process, designed for first-time writers. It focuses on developing the skill of conceptualising and drafting scripts for theatre. Theatre-makers, directors, script writers, community groups and theatre companies are invited and encouraged to apply.

Zabalaza artistic director Mdu Kweyama explained: “Given the current global response to the coronavirus pandemic, this Script Writing Programme seeks to inspire the development of new plays and presents an opportunity to learn an alternative approach to creating theatre productions.”

“There is an urgent need for writers and we would like to encourage first-time writers who have stories to share and who just need a nudge in the right direction.

“We are also placing an emphasis on women writers and directors, and strongly encourage them to apply.”

There are two options available.

The first is the submission of a play script that will be further developed and refined.

The second option is to submit a brief concept for the play that applicants would like to enter in the festival, to be developed into a script. Both options will be facilitated by Zabalaza mentors, who are established industry practitioners.

Theatre groups and companies are advised to select or appoint a writer or two from their organisations. These individuals will be responsible for the development of the scripts. In phase two of the process, the mentors will assist in developing the scripts into plays. It is important to note the second phase will depend on the level of the lockdown and when the government deems it safe to resume operations, probably with social distancing restrictions. At this point the Zabalaza mentors will have contact with the applicants at their rehearsal venues, taking all regulations into account.

The completed productions will be presented at mini-festivals scheduled to take place in January 2021. This is a preliminary date which, once again, will be finalised pending the country’s lockdown regulations. The final selection process will decide which productions will participate in the 11th annual Zabalaza Theatre Festival, which is planned for March 2021.

In previous year’s application forms had been made available at various theatre spaces and through organisations in the Western Cape. This year, however, in keeping with lockdown restrictions, all applications will be available only online. The link to the online form can be accessed from all Zabalaza Theatre Festival and The Baxter Theatre Centre’s social media sites and website or requested via email from zabalazafestival@uct.ac.za.

The Zabalaza Theatre Festival is made possible by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, City of Cape Town, Distell and HCI Foundation.

All kinds of theatre are welcome, be it ensemble work, two-handers, children’s theatre productions, puppetry, musical theatre, drama, comedy, physical theatre or traditional storytelling. The Script Writing Programme is currently able to facilitate concepts and scripts written in English, Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaans.

Applications for the 2021 Zabalaza Theatre Festival close on the 31 July 2020.

For further enquiries or more information, please contact Tshegofatso Mabutla at zabalazafestival@uct.ac.za. Alternatively, visit www.baxter.co.za or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zabalazafestival.

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