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Finalists Announced For DIstell National Playwright Competition 2020

The names of the five finalists of the Distell National Playwright Competition of 2020 have been announced.

These fresh new South African voices, whose scripts have sufficiently impressed the judges of this annual playwright competition, run by the National Arts Festival and supported by Distell, are:

  • Tamarisk-Ray Glogauer from Wilderness in the Western Cape (written in English)
  • Philiswe Twijnstra from Glenwood in Kwa-Zulu Natal (written in English and isiZulu)
  • Amy Louise Wilson from Parktown, Johannesburg (written in English)
  • Happy Simelane from Kathlehong, Gauteng (written in isiZulu)
  • Tseko Thukani from Bloemfontein, Free State (written in English and Sesotho)

The project sees the finalists paired with notable mentors who will assist them in developing their scripts to be ready for staging.

The five finished scripts will then be evaluated by a panel and one winning script will be chosen to be developed into a production and staged at the National Arts Festival in 2020. Each finalist receives R 5 000 in cash, while the winning scriptwriter can also look forward to a R 20 000 cash prize.

The 2019 winner, Koleka Putuma, penned No Easter Sunday for Queers for her winning entry last year. The play focuses on the limitations of the normative ideas of sexuality in religion and received rave reviews both in South Africa and London.

The Distell National Playwright Competition recognises work that grapples with issues of social cohesion and was in fact founded in honour of Adam and Rosalie Small, whose work in literature and education formed a rich contribution to South African culture.

Says the National Arts Festival’s Executive Producer, Nobesuthu Rayi, “It’s imperative that new work comes into the South African theatre space but new scriptwriters often battle to have their work made and as a result we are not seeing nearly enough new work on our stages. There is no shortage of ideas though and this wonderful partnership with Distell has enabled us to bring these ideas to light and assist writers in taking them to the next level.”

Bridgitte Backman, Distell’s Director of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, explains the company’s aim with supporting the project: “As Distell, we recognise that our country is multi-ethnic and we therefore place a high priority on supporting arts initiatives that showcase our country’s rich heritage and diversity. The arts, in our view, are key to building a more inspired and creative society.”

The winner of the competition will be announced on 31 January 2020.

About the 2020 Distell National Playwright Competition Finalists

PHILISWE TWIJNSTRA

Philisiwe Twijnstra is a writer, director and actor. She resides in Durban where she founded Durban Women Playwrights in 2017. She was also selected as one of the female directors for a Womens’ Theatre Festivalin Johannesburg (2016) to stage her first award winning play by a Dutch writer, Theo Fransz Matty & Sis.

She was part of the novel script project at National Arts Festival after which she wrote Salty Pillows; a script which took second place at the PANSA Playwright Festival. (2017). Ms Twijnstra was shortlisted for Short Sharp Stories( 2017) for her short story Little black Sandals.

She received a fellowship in Germany (2018) and her play The Red Suitcase was selected for staged readings in Canada by Zee Zee Theatre. (2018) Ms Twijnstra was recipient for the CASA Playwright Award residency (2018) to write her new play ‘Not Enough Buses in Spring’.

In November 2019, Ms Twijnstra directed Nongogo at University of KwaZulu Natal. She completed her Master’s in Creative Writing at Rhodes University.

TAMARISK-RAY GLOGAUER

Tamarisk-Ray Glogauer enjoys good tea and good conversation. She has an honours degree in drama from Rhodes University where she specialised in writing for performance, physical performance and choreography. She is passionate about writing and exploring bodily performance as communication with the potential to express that which is both universal and deeply personal. She strives to question how it is we tell stories in a world on the brink of change.

HAPPY GLADNESS SIMELANE

Happy Simelane graduated from the Market Theatre Laboratory and has been in plays that include Chasing Happy and Madam and Eva. Happy featured in the National Arts Festival (Makhanda) with a piece of theatre that was devised by the students of the Market (directed by Clara Vaughan and assisted by Salome Sebola) called Noord!. The show also played at 969 Arts Festival at Wits Theatre.

She worked as a facilitator on a school festival and interned as a costume designer for Thula Thula which played in the Barney Simon Theatre at The Market in 2017. In 2019, she performed in a children’s theatre play Ditholoaneng that was devised by the cast and directed by Omphile Molusi. Happy currently resides in Kathlehong, South Africa.

AMY LOUISE WILSON

Amy Louise Wilson is a performer from Johannesburg. Since graduating from Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town with an Honours Degree in Drama, she has appeared in numerous local and international film, television and theatre productions. Notable credits include Fox’s The Book of Negroes and the Netflix series Troy: The Fall of a City.

Her acting credits include a role in the Fugard Theatre’s The Father and The Mother. She has been experimenting with creating solo performance, beginning with her living-room performance-lecture Other People’s Homes which she created in New York. In 2019, together with Francois Knoetze, she co-founded the Lo-Def Film Factory, a pop-up experimental community cinema initiative.

TSEKO THUKANI

Tseko “Tk Da Poet” Thukani is an acclaimed theatre practitioner from South Africa. A life coach providing educational training, workshops and mentorship through the art and culture intervention.

This young and rising star is a founder and the Creative Elevator Officer (CEO) of The Gallants House Productions, a house for creative writing and performing arts based in Bloemfontein in the Free State Province.

He’s well known for his skilful acting, directing, creative writing, a facilitator of the performing arts and he is a voice-over artist. Tseko has run workshops in various parts of South Africa and shared his craft as an actor and poet in all nine provinces of South Africa; including neighbouring countries i.e. Lesotho and Botswana. His art is a fusion of dreams, visions and reality inspired by nature and language.

ABOUT DISTELL

Distell, Africa’s leading producer of spirits, wines, ciders and ready-to-drinks (RTDs), supports a wide range of community projects that include alcohol harm reduction and socio-economic development. For more information, visit www.distell.co.za.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL

The National Arts Festival is an important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent. Starting at the end of June/beginning of July, it runs for 11 days and is held in the small university city of Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), which is situated in the Eastern Cape, 130km from Port Elizabeth. For more information, visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za

The 2020 National Arts Festival takes place from 25 June-5 July.

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

Catch him on Twitter: twitter.com/andrewgerm_za
And IMDb: www.imdb.com/name/nm5390453/