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NAC THEATRE INITIATIVE (article first published : 2002-01-19)

A handful of local playwrights have started 2002 on a high, thanks to an initiative by the National Arts Council. The ideas for ten new South African plays have been selected and each writer will be paid to develop their scripts.

During 2001 the NAC launched a search for new plays and had an overwhelming response. The NAC received over 500 synopses of proposed play ideas from writers around the country. A panel of judges, which included Graham Scott, Pieter Toerien, Bobby Rodwell and Charles Mabaso, read the submissions.

So impressive was this NAC Theatre Initiative, "the search for new plays", that the number of grants they would give the playwrights doubled from five to ten. The writers will be paid R30,000 for a three month period to complete their scripts. Completed works must be delivered to the NAC by July 1, 2002.

The playwrights selected are an impressive group which include: For Better For Wors by Robert Hobbs and Megan Wilson; Jouberg In The Mix by John Ledwaba; Mongrel by Heinrich Reisenhofer; Our Struggle by Fatima Dike and Shoeville by Gamakulu Diniso

Also chosen are Stander Lives by Guy Willoughby; Streams and Rivers by Percy Mtwa; Squaring Up by Tony Jackman; The Trial Of Muntu by Thekwane Kgosana and Vergenoeg by George Weiderman.

The playwrights have been informed that their plays have been chosen, the next leg for the writers is to complete their plays. The NAC will then read the finished scripts and will provide some funding for co-productions with theatres for any of the plays deemed suitable for production.

Doreen Nteta, CEO of the National Arts Council however stated that: "We (the NAC) are disappointed that although there were submissions in other languages, works produced were predominantly in English. Of the synopses received 30 were in Afrikaans, 15 iSizulu, seven iSixhosa, three Sepedi, two Setswana, two Sesotho, one in iSiswati and the remainder in English. We are looking at ways and means of encouraging the production of new work especially in African languages. We want to encourage the culture of writing amongst African Playwrights, as this is the only way to preserve and build on our rich artistic and cultural heritage.

Further details from information required Andre le Roux or Peter Tshabala at the National Arts Council on 011 838-1383 ext 243. E-mail addresses: peter@nac.org.za and andre@nac.org.za or visit www.nac.org.za




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