New model for programme

The Baxters Zabalaza Theatre Festival is calling for play script applications for the 2021 season.

The Baxter’s Zabalaza Theatre Festival is calling for play script applications for the 2021 season.

The development theatre platform celebrated its 10th anniversary in March.

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

The Script Writing Programme will serve as a foundation phase in the first round of the selection process. 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 to apply.

There are two options available. The first is the submission of a play script which will be further developed and refined. The second option is to submit a brief concept for the play which applicants would like to enter into the festival and which will 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 to develop the scripts into plays.

The completed productions will be presented at mini festivals, which are scheduled to take place in January 2021. This is a preliminary date which 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.

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

“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,” says Zabalaza artistic director, Mdu Kweyama.

“There is an urgent need for writers in the arts industry 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.”

The closing date for applications is Friday July 31. The link to the online form can be accessed from all Zabalaza Theatre Festival and The Baxter Theatre Centre’s social media sites, website or requested via email from