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SEASONS Playwrighting Edition: call for entries

25 Aug

“A playwright, also known as a dramatist, is a person who writes dramatic literature or drama. The term is not a variant spelling of “playwrite”, but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder (as in a wheelwright or cartwright). Hence the prefix and the suffix combine to indicate someone who has wrought words, themes, and other elements into a dramatic form, someone who crafts plays. The homophone with write is in this case entirely coincidental.”

The International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) is searching for playwrighting tips, tricks and strategies. In this edition of Seasons we want to know all about your craft. What useful tools help you in wrighting your plays? What’s the best advice you’ve received? What are your techniques for fine tuning your structure? What sets your playwrighting apart from your other writing? Are you a dramaturg with advice to share?

Please complete this form by 31 August if you’re interested in contributing. We will let you know if your article fits this edition by 5 September. Final deadline for submission of articles will be 23 September. If you have any questions, please mail us at


Play Reading

28 Mar

Reading playscripts is often a requirement in my line of work. I have to read scripts from students, from other playwrights. There’s an art to reading scripts. You need to be able to visualise, vividly, all the spaces in between. Creating a script is not just telling a story, this is why we are playWRIGHTS and not playWRITES – we are crafting and manufacturing an experience.

The script is the seed. The script needs to contain everything else. As a playwright, reading scripts should be mandatory – learning how to interpret meaning, seeing how the masters succeed. If you are not a playwright, reading scripts should be mandatory: they allow your mind to soar.

Every now and again, I get to read a script for pure pleasure. One such script was Complicite‘s “A Disappearing Number”. I reviewed that script, and sadly the review couldn’t run – and so I place it here:

“Reading a playscript is an art in itself. You become part of the text, creating the landscapes and action in your mind, clocking the entrances and exits, at once player and audience.  Complicite’s “A Disappearing Number” is a breathtaking work. It’s about mathematics. And dying. And living. The infinite, and the end.  This playscript will show you glimpses of the universe, will take you to India, and will also make you take a look at your own life. Every now and again a text comes along which breathes new life into us: this is that text. Become a part of it.”

Taking ownership

22 Mar

It seems fitting that in the week of the ctlive1.0 festival, news should come from one of my all time favourite blogs, Technology and the Arts, that ticketing has come to Facebook.

Take a moment to think about that. That is a game changer. The technology enables you to sell tickets to your event, from within facebook. People never leave. Just when Facebook events were becoming the biggest joke on the internet, with a lower recorded success rate than cold calling, they have been saved from oblivion. Being able to sell tickets is relevant, meaningful. And it puts the power directly in the hands of the arts organisations.

It allows you to capitalise, right there and then, on that relationship you’ve been building. That’s big. That’s like monetising your blog. Here we go everybody: it’s time to make a business.






Here are some things you can do right now

16 Mar

So, I’m knackered, but since a lot of people responded to me via email yesterday, I thought I’d continue to ride this wave by offering you some suggestions of what you could do, and pointing you  to the awesome wonder of what Imogen Heap is doing right now.

Playwrights. Where are you looking for opportunities? Or even before that: what are you writing? One of my favourite stories is of the writer who asked Pieter Dirk Uys for money to write a play. Dirk Uys sent them a pen and a pad, and told them to be in touch again once they’d written it. Where are you submitting your plays? Are you listed? Do you have monologues out there?

Musicians – oh holy wow, have you seen how Imogen Heap is crowdsourcing her new song? Here’s the link again, because it’s so awesome – heapsong1. So many ways for all sorts of creatives to engage, so much creativity and imagination, and, as she points out, crowdsourcing puts a deadline on a project and gives you the impetus to work. Also, have you put mp3s out there in the universe?  One of my favourite new musicians, Sam McCarthy is on soundcloud – simple. Beautiful.

As for the theatremakers, the dancers, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about YouTube. YOUTube. But just in case, here are some examples of what performing artists can do on this medium to expose themselves to the world:

At the top of the scale, with the budget to back them up, are National Theatre and their stunning NTLive initiative – you can check out their trailer.

Or there’s the eyebending shadow puppets of Pilobilus.

And closer to home, South African dance company Ikapa fly across your screen.

I’m going to keep on at you guys: DO SOMETHING.

Why every artist in Cape Town, South Africa, and the World should be online. Now.

15 Mar

We crossed the rubicon a long time ago, folks.  It’s too late to be asking IF we should be engaging online, about the only question left to us now is HOW.

You can facebook, tweet, blog, post you tube clips, put mp3s in sound cloud, list your plays on Doollee, or livestream. You can do this all for free. So WHY, my good people, WHY are you not doing this? Why are you still throwing your money after beeyootifully designed posters no one will ever see?

Let me tell you something I learned when auditioning actors. Most of you don’t know how to audition. You know how to act, oh hell yes. But you walk in the room, and you launch into your monologue. Most of you don’t give me a cv, headshots, make small talk. You haven’t researched me, or the play you’re auditioning for. And by researched, I mean “hit Google and spent five minutes looking at the results”.

So now think of the industry as one big audition. You probably are a little savvy. You know you need to be seen at opening nights. And workshops. You comment on the work of people you admire, so that they register your existence.

Well, hello. Let me introduce you to web2.0, the opening night to which you’ve all been invited.  The doors have been opened wide, and so many people are standing outside having that last cig, and gazing at the rest of us in bewilderment. The industry, the bigshots, the theatres, the festivals, they’re out there. They’re ready and willing to engage. Now, more than ever before, you can see and be seen, from the comfort of your own couch. For free. And yet people are chosing not to come to this party. People are, when being offered this chance, deciding, meh, sod it, I don’t want in after all.

Now, I realise the irony of blogging this. Because most of you who bother to read blogs, you’ve already got a foot in the door. BUT. Our recent artist survey found that most people who are online, don’t have any examples of their work online.  So you’re getting yourself in the door, but then you haven’t prepared your monologue. A while ago, I submitted some monologues to a site called notmyshoes. A fabulous and amazing woman runs it, and looks after it, and promotes it, and she is a hero. Through that site, I started getting queries.  A few. Then more. Now about two or three a day.  The internet is working for me. And last year I got a call from a theatre, because an actor had auditioned using a monologue from my play, and they wanted to see the script, and now I have a production deal. I didn’t know, when I emailed that monologue to Kellie late one night, that two years later it would lead to a production. But I got my foot in the door AND I had something to show for it.

This is the big picture, people. I’ve been travelling a lot recently. I am reminded, no, I am struck full force in the face time and time again, with how talented our artists are. You ARE. You could hold your head up on any stage, anywhere.

This has not all been a punt for the CTLive Festival. But I was reminded of this all during the blogging workshop Luca Vincenzo ran for us this morning. He urged us to be personal in our blogs. This is ME. And, luckily, I am passionate about the project I am working on.

And so now, with PANSA‘s ctlive1.0 festival, under the stewardship of the awesome Sanjin Muftic, we’re running 100 stages and you. YOU. These stages are there, ready and waiting. Your audience is there, ready and waiting.


Getting our act together for ctlive1.0

8 Mar

I’m so excited to be working with PANSA again on the CTLive Festival. Last year’s festival was a wild ride, a real testing ground for what might work and what might not. Since then, the SA performing arts industry has claimed a lot of “ground” online, and I’m excited to see what might emerge this year. The first workshop was today, and the number of artists showing a keen interest is very invigorating – such a change from the usual ennui and entitlement that tends to settle over our industry like lethargy dust.

Festival Director Sanjin Muftic – he of Yawazzi and other interesting adventures in technology and art wonderland – is back as well this year, and we’re taking all the best bits of last year and fine tuning them to create something even more fabulous. 100 Stages and You – exposing our artists to the online opportunities, and exposing audiences to our artists online.

Check out the sites for info on the challenges, and follow our activity – Yusrah Bardien and I will be tweeting up a play – just because we can – and there’s a whole lot more to look forward to.

This is what theatre should be

22 Feb

On a hot summer Sunday afternoon we are invited through the magic of modern technology to watch an (almost) live broadcast of the National Theatre‘s production of Nation. I’m at once excited and terrified. Excited, because Phedre was one of my cultural highlights of last year and I am hoping this will be its equal. Terrified because Terry Pratchett is a lifelong hero of mine and I am worried the play might not live up to my expectations.

I needn’t have worried: Mark Ravenhill’s adaptation captures the spirit of the novel masterfully. In fact the entire joyous, tragic, ALIVE production carries that spirit – the questioning, but also the living beyond the questioning, the BEING.  The production weaves effortlessly between the delightful, simple humour and pleasure of Jason Thorpe’s Milton the Parrot; the taught crisp portrayal by Paul Chahidi of a man unravelling; and the myriad portraits of human nature brought to life by the well attuned company. At the centre of it all, Gary Carr as Mau and Emily Taaffe as Daphne are utterly believable and compelling, as we journey with them on their discovery of themselves, each other, and of course the Nation.

I could go on – the design is remarkable, the capturing of the water scenes most inspired and the puppetry elements integrated, intelligent and not even for a second gratuitous. Director Melly Still tells us at the beginning of the broadcast about her desires for the play, and she succeeds at every one. It does make you think, it does entertain you, and it is something that people of all ages from young adult (which I still consider myself at not yet thirty…) to rather old adult can enjoy.

The sad part? The half empty theatre. Having spent most of the week ranting at our performing arts industry for being apathetic, perhaps I should not be surprised. And there are those that whine about the ticket price – well guess what? Flying to London to see it would cost you rather more. So do yourself a favour PLEASE, and catch the second broadcast, at Cinema Nouveau’s around South Africa, on Wednesday 24 February – book now!

And as a postscript: we were even luckier than those actually at the theatre in London. We got to enjoy popcorn with our play.