UJ Arts & Culture launches online Playwriting Lab

UJ Arts & Culture invites aspirant and established playwrights to apply for participation in its online playwriting laboratory.

A division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg, UJ Arts & Culture is a proponent of new original South African work and the UJ Playwriting Lab is another programme designed to support the development of new creative content. Over the past few years, numerous new works were developed in collaboration, in partnership or in residence at UJ Arts & Culture. Among these, iNDUKU, Dear Mr Government, please may I have a meeting with you, even though I am six years old? and Pink Money to mention a few.

The aim of this six-month programme is for participants to complete the script for a 60-90 minute one-act play. UJ Arts & Culture will select up to four works for staged readings in 2021, where some of the works might be selected for a full-scale production.

“Most of the playwrights I know don’t follow a step-by-step process or ‘recipe’ to write a play. Most of the time it involves a smorgasbord of methods, techniques and tricks. The UJ Playwriting Lab strives to create a learning-by-doing environment through online master classes, forum discussions and ongoing critical feedback over a writing-intensive period,” says Pieter Jacobs. “While writing, generally, is a solitary endeavour we hope that this programme will make the journey a little less lonely,” he adds.

The UJ Playwriting Lab is open to new, emerging and established South African writers. The programme will be presented in English but participants may also write scripts in Setswana, South and North Sotho (Sesotho and Sepedi) and Afrikaans. The programme will be facilitated by Head of UJ Arts & Culture, Pieter Jacobs and playwright Omphile Molusi and award-winning Director, Jade Bowers an independent director and facilitator Tshego Khutsoane will join the programme as writing advisors. Master classes on a range of topics will be presented by writing advisors and other writers including Mike van Graan, Napo Masheane, Ismail Mahomed and Amy Jephta.

Applicants are required to submit one monologue (no more than 400 words) and a dialogue (no more than 600 words). The following online form should be completed and submitted by no later than 18 April 2020:

Apply HERE —-> https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=zVp4-u82vEGKlImEEyfgRQuF40uqk1lJkxReUrtSbtxUQUFWNFhGS0s5UkI2VEFVOFZOS0xNMkRLNi4u

To ensure that participants gain meaningful value from the process and that scripts developed are as close to ready for production as possible, a limited number of participants will be selected.

More about the people involved:

About Pieter Jacobs

Pieter Jacobs is an award-winning South African playwright, actor and arts executive. He studied Performing Arts at Tshwane University of Technology and holds a MA in Creative Writing from the School of Literature, Language, and Media (SLLMS) at the University of the Witwatersrand where he graduated cum laude. He won a KKNK Nagtegaal Debut prize for his play Plofstof in 2003 and his 2008 play, Dalliances was also nominated for an Oscar Wilde Award in Dublin. His latest play, Prey, creates a world where virtual life and reality are intertwined to explore themes of online revenge pornography, racism and blackmail. Prey was selected from 50 submissions for a showcase at the inaugural KKNK Teksmark new play development initiative in 2016. In 2015, the Mail & Guardian included him on their list of the top 200 noteworthy young South Africans. He was the Chief Executive Officer of the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) for seven years and since 2017 after which he took over management of Arts & Culture at the University of Johannesburg.

About Omphile Molusi

Omphile Molusi is one of South Africa’s most prolific young playwrights. He has been writing, directing and acting for theatre since 2001. Some of his theatre credits include: Cadre (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Edinburgh Festival 2013, Market Theatre and Grahamstown NAF 2013), Narrative dreams (Cape Town Obs Family season Fest 2014, Grahamstown NAF 2014. Director) Balalatladi (Rehearsed reading at Washington DC’s Kennedy Centre, NSA FOF, Obs Family Season 2012. Director) Itsoseng (Published by Junkets publishers and Oxford University Press SA, adapted for BBC radio play, and performed at various local and international venues including Edinburgh festival 2008.). For the right reasons (Published by Oxford University Press SA and Junkets Publishers), The sweet door (Performed at Windybrow Theatre), Ijo! (Performed at the Market Laboratory and Grahamstown National Arts Festival 2005), Pozeng (Resident project at the Market Laboratory) Short Story: Bargain (Published by Penguin publishers).

About Jade Bowers

Born in Cape Town in 1987, Jade Bowers is a director and designer who experiments with physical style and conceptual form to make theatre that is fueled by invention and creativity. Jade has been listed as one of online magazine Afripop’s ‘Five Female Theatre Makers in South Africa You Should Know’. She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Drama and Sociology from the University of Cape Town and received her Honours degree in Theatre Design and Directing for the Stage from University of the Witwatersrand in 2014. Jade has been recognised for her ability to revisit South African texts in an inventive yet deeply respectful way. Her beautiful and compelling reworking of Rehane Abrahams’s script What the Water Gave Me earned a Silver Ovation Award at the 2014 National Arts Festival, as well as a Naledi Award nomination in 2015 in the category, Best Production: Cutting Edge. Arts writer Adrienne Sichel says Jade is ‘not only an actors’ director, but one that has ‘the ability to ignite audiences visually and intellectually with imaginative, highly intuitive, yet astutely crafted, theatre making’. She received the Arts & Culture Trust’s ImpACT award for theatre in 2014 and was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre in 2016.

About Mike van Graan

Mike van Graan graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA Honours Degree in Drama and was appointed as an Associate Professor in UCT’s Drama Department from 2015-2019. He has served in leadership positions in a variety of anti-apartheid cultural organisations including Director of the Community Arts Project, Projects Officer for the Congress of South African Writers and General Secretary of the National Arts Coalition. He was appointed as Artscape’s Associate Playwright from 2011-2014 (Artscape is one of five nationally-subsidised theatres) and is considered as one of South Africa’s leading contemporary playwrights, having garnered numerous nominations and awards for his plays that interrogate the post-apartheid South African condition. Most recently, his play on African migration and refugees – When Swallows Cry – won the Naledi Theatre Awards for Best Production, Best Director and Best Script (2017).

About Napo Masheane

(Soweto/Qwaqwa) Masheane holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Rhodes University. She is a playwright, poet, director, producer, translator and performer on both national and international stages. A founding member of Feela Sistah! Spoken Word Collective and with its demise, went to become one of South Africa’s leading black female theatre makers, after her provocative and humorous plays, My Bum Is Genetic Deal With It and The Fat Black Women Sing. She is the winner of The Mbokodo Award (2011), Pan African Language Award, (2014) and South African Film and Television Award- SAFDA (2016). Between 2017/18, she held the position of Deputy Artistic Director at The South African State Theatre, where she wrote and directed, KHWEZI… Say My Name, a stage adaptation of Redi Tlhabi’s book: KHWEZI…The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.

Masheane’s work credits include but are not limited to working with, The Market Theatre, Soweto Theatre, Theater Siberia (Holland), Theatre Under The Tree (Reunion Island), Maitisong Theatre (Botwasana), (HIFA) and Intwasa Arts Festival (Zimbabwe), University of Pretoria, TUT, University of Udine (Italy), University of California (Los Angeles), Jungel Theater (Germany), AfroVibes (Amsterdam), FestivaleLetteratura Montova (Italy), BRICS Cultural Festival (China), Wuzhen Theatre Festival (China), and Scenkonst Biennalen 2019 (Sweden). Masheane has three choreopoem-collections, Caves Speak in Metaphors, Fat Songs For My Girlfriends and Heartbeat Of The Rain. While picked up on the international circuit was one of her monologues performed by leading actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) at Royal Court, London. Presently she is a standing advisory board member of Stockholm University Of The Arts, under performing arts and the Managing Director of Village Gossips Productions and The TRIBE Collective.

About Ismail Mahomed

With more than 30 years of experience in the performing arts sector, Ismail Mahomed is an accomplished playwright, theatre director and arts administrator. He is currently employed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Market Theatre Foundation. He assumed this role in August 2016 after an 8-year stint as the Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival. Prior to taking up the post in Grahamstown, he was employed as the Senior Cultural Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa (2003 – 2008). From 1996 – 2003, he was the Director of the Witbank Civic Theatre in the Mpumalanga province. During an earlier posting as Director of the Creative Arts Workshop (1988-1996), he played a major role in developing the company to become the largest independent producing theatre company at South Africa’s premiere National Arts Festival. As an accomplished playwright Mahomed is included in two publications. He was also a finalist in both the Amstel Playwright of the Year Competition and the PANSA Playwrights Competition. He has participated as a panellist on seminars, forums and conferences on the arts in 32 countries. He was listed by both the Financial Mail and The Star newspaper as an independent thinker and as an influential opinion-shifter in the South African arts sector.

About Amy Jephta

Amy Jephta hails from Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town and works variously as a filmmaker, playwright, screenwriter, director and academic. An alumni of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York, Amy has worked as a mentor to community-based theatre groups as part of the Twist Theatre project, has been a voice and acting lecturer at City Varsity in Cape Town and the Woodward School for Contemporary Art in Vancouver and an invited lecturer at Queens College, New York. She has held fellowships at the Orchard Project Episodic Lab (New York), the AfroVibes Festival (Amsterdam) and the Edinburgh International Festival. As a playwright, her work has been published in South Africa, performed at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town, the Riksteatern in Stockholm, and at the Bush Theatre, Theatre 503 and the Jermyn Street Theatres in London. In 2015 and 2017, her writing was directed by Danny Boyle and performed by James McAvoy as part of The Children’s Monologues at the Royal Court (London) and at Carnegie Hall (New York).

About Tshego Khutsoane

Tshego Khutsoane is a recent MBA graduate (September 2019) and studied Acting (Stage and Screen), Directing, Contemporary Performance and Applied Drama and Theatre Studies through Rhodes University (BAH) and The University of the Witwatersrand (MA).  As Director, Tshego showcased the production Hunter Gatherers in collaboration with Néka Da Costa and Wits University, at The Market Theatre in May 2019. Her 2018 undertaking of ‘ChoirBoy’ written by Tarrel Alvin McCraney of ‘Moonlight’ Oscar Award-Winning fame was awarded a 2018 Standard Bank Encore Award by the National Arts Festival’s Ovation Panel. In 2016 the production For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf, directed in collaboration the UJ Arts Centre was awarded a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival. As Facilitator, Tshego has experience holding process with target groups and communities. She leads the train-the- trainer programme and curriculum development of Drama for Life’s flagship, Wits University accredited Mvuso Schools and Community Education Project. The project trains teachers and artists – identified as priority supportive- stakeholders in the holistic development of young people – to hold reflexive theatre-making processes with learners of high school going age in Soweto, Johannesburg.


About UJ Arts & Culture

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts. In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA offers programmes in eight creative disciplines in art, design and architecture, as well as being home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. For more information, please visit www.uj.ac.za/arts.