Write a play and be famous

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

If you fancy yourself as a writer of stage plays, you now have an opportunity to shine.

South African writing is due to receive a fresh injection of inspiration from the National Arts Festival with the launch of a new initiative, Writing Beyond the Fringe. Writers who have written at least one script that has previously been staged on the Fringe programme of the National Arts Festival qualify to participate.

Four writers will be given the opportunity to take their literary works beyond South Africa's borders. The project is a partnership between the National Arts Festival and the deBuren and Passa Porta literary projects in Belgium and The Netherlands.

Four writers will be selected to write a new story on the theme, Re-mapping the World.

The focal point of the story should be a character whose life has been re-mapped by either local or global changes of the last decades. They will be invited to read the stories at the 2009 National Arts Festival. In addition, the Brussels-based deBuren Project will pay the writers ß3 000 (about R33000) each.

The works will also be translated into French, Spanish and Dutch.

The four stories will be broadcast by Radio Netherlands Worldwide on Radio Books, a series of recorded stories specially written to be listened to and not to appear in print. The stories, which should last between 20 to 30 minutes (about 5000 words), are read aloud by the authors to an audience once only. After the reading, they are broadcast on radio and distributed via the Internet, where they can be listened to or downloaded free of charge.

Festival director Ismail Mahomed said: "Storytelling is one of our oldest traditions. Distributing South African stories which have a strong continental and global resonance through the World Wide Web is a product of our present age.

"This project allows writers to think of the World Wide Web as a stage that will allow them to engage with an international audience," Mahomed added.

One of the four writers will also be considered for an invitation to participate in a fully sponsored one-month writers' residency at the Passa Porta Writers' Festival in Brussels next year.

This opportunity is available to South African citizens or those with permanent residency in South Africa. It is confined to new writers who have had a maximum of one publication in book form, or whose work has not previously been published in book form, although it may have appeared in magazines, journals or newspapers.

Applications and more information on how to participate in the Writing Beyond the Fringe programme can be downloaded from the National Arts Festival website www.nationalartsfestival.co.za.