South African Cultural Observatory

Teksmark to include more English and isiXhosa

BY 17.09.18

IT WAS announced at the 2018 Teksmark (Text market) that the Baxter Theatre Centre and the National Afrikaans Theatre Initiative (NATi) will collectively contribute an additional R200 000 to ensure the inclusion of isiXhosa texts to the already Afrikaans and English selections from 2019 onwards.

Lara Foot, CEO and artistic director of the Baxter Theatre Centre, at the closing of the third Teksmark recently said that if NATi and the Dagbreek Trust each contributed R100 000, the Baxter would commit to the same amount, so as to include English and isiXhosa texts, making it a multi-lingual, and multi-cultural initiative for new voices and artists to thrive in a professional environment.

“If you want to make a healthy soup, you cannot only grow potatoes,” says Foot. “We are not diluting or taking anything away from the Afrikaans component of Teksmark, but simply augmenting it and expanding the base to include more English and add isXhosa texts to the programme. This is in line with the Baxter’s mission and ethos of accessibility for all and thereby including all languages, cultures and religions. This is the only way that we can build on this vital initiative.”

Cornelia Faasen, executive director of the NATi, immediately committed to R100 000 and hopefully the Dagbreek Trust will do the same. Faasen explains, “Afrikaans is after all an indigenous language and stands alongside many others and in this way we create more opportunities for writers.”

Hugo Theart, acting CEO of Kuste Onbeperk, who started the Teksmark initiative, said, “It was always my dream to expand Teksmark to include and develop South African texts. I am overwhelmed by the number of people who attend and who participate in the discussions. It is a safe space within the theatre community, where opinions, advice and constructive feedback is welcomed as extracts from the texts are presented in performed play-reading format. Everyone becomes part of the process of creating theatre.”

Three bursaries were also announced for young writers to further develop and refine their texts. Kunste Opbeperk and NATi offered Herschelle Benjamin R50 000, Free State Arts Festival (Vrystaat Kunstefees) and NATi offered Du Toit Albertze R50 000 and Aardklop National Arts Festival and the Atterbury Trust gave Kanya Viljoen R20 000 – all participants at this year’s Teksmark.

Two of the texts that were picked up for development into full-scale productions are Wildeals by Wessel Pretorius, made possible by Kunste Onbeperk, the Baxter, NATi and Aardklop and Kôllemin die blouduif, by Amee Leekas, which will be made possible by Kunste Onbeperk, the Baxter, the University of Stellenbosch Woordfees en NATi as partners. Leekas made her debut at the first Teksmark in 2017 with her play Die Dans van die Watermeid which was performed at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio and which received a Fleur du Cap nomination for Best New South African script.

AK21, a club that supports the performing arts, indicated that they would submit five texts to their members to be considered for financial assistance – these are Die doop (Elsa Tirsa), Aas Poetica (Herschelle Benjamin), Mank (Kanya Viljoen), Sestig grade (Du Toit Albertze) en Die rol (Nicola Hanekom).

“With all these exciting developments taking place, it is apparent that Kunste Onbeperk is finding its feet, but we still have a long way to go. What excited me about this year was the number of young voices who participated. The themes in their work burst with a freshness and shows that these young voices have a finger on the pulse of what is going in our society today. They tackle difficult but necessary issues and ask questions which challenge us.”

With the expansion of Tekmarks 2019 Theart believes that as it goes from strength to strength to become a platform where many more young writers can be given the opportunity to be heard.

Bauke Snyman’s Swerfgoed, which was selected at the 2017 Teksmark, is currently on at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio and runs for a limited season until 22 September at 7.30pm. Directed by Tinarie van Wyk Loots, with a stellar cast made up of Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Nicola Holm, Richard September and Andrew Laubscher, the play made its debut at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival earlier this year, where it won awards for Best New South African Script, Best Supporting Actress (Holm) and Best Supporting Actor (September).

Booking for Swerfgoed is through Webtickets or selected Pick n Pay stores. For more information visit www.baxter.co.za.

For further media enquiries please contact Fahiem Stellenboom, email fahiem.stellenboom@uct.ac.za or telephone 021 680 3971.

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