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Following its overwhelming success in June this year the organisers of the popular Zabalaza Theatre Festival are now calling for applications and auditions for its 2012 season which will take place at the Baxter Theatre Centre from 17 to 30 March next year.

Earlier this year a new identity, mission, vision and format was launched, introducing the dynamic new team spearheading one of South Africa’s leading development theatre festivals for young community-based theatre-makers and groups, largely focused on the Western Cape. The award-winning trio who now lead the festival are Thami Mbongo (artistic director), Zoleka Helesi (co-ordinator) and Bongile Mantsai (financial manager).Submissions for the 2012 programme close on Friday, 4 November 2011, and should reach the festival office by no later than 5pm. Applications should be sent to the Zabalaza Theatre Festival, Baxter Theatre Centre, Main Road, Rondebosch, faxed to 021 680 3992, or emailed to . For further enquiries contact Zoleka Helesi on 021 680 3980 or cell 084 047 8480. Application forms may be obtained from the festival office, at the Baxter Theatre Centre’s reception in the main foyer, downloaded from the website at http://www.baxter.co.za/ or from www.facebook.com/zabalazafestival. Theatre-makers and groups are also welcome to invite the Zabalaza team to their own rehearsal venues to present their work for consideration. Productions which are selected from this first round of applications and auditions will be invited to participate in the mini festivals which are planned for December this year. The final selection will be made at the mini festivals for the 2012 line-up.Zabalaza Intsika eBaxter Theatre is isiXhosa – zabalaza means to strive and intsika eBaxter Theatre means pillar of the Baxter Theatre. Loosely translated, it means two things – striving towards being a pillar of the Baxter Theatre Centre and, as a pillar of the Baxter Theatre Centre, striving towards success. Last year the Zabalaza team visited community theatre groups and theatre-makers at their rehearsal venues throughout the Western Cape to view the work and work spaces and to invite them to participate in the two mini festivals which were held in April at the Zolani Centre in Nyanga East and Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha. From the mini festivals 11 productions and an additional one from the Eastern Cape were selected for staging at the 2011 Zabalaza Theatre Festival. The festival team also introduced another innovation by awarding the best honours in various categories – Actor, Supporting Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Script, Director, Most Promising Production, Production, Stage Manager, Ensemble and Musical Director. Uhlazo, written and directed by Loyiso Damoyi and performed by Africa Jam won the Best of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival award and will be staged at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 28 November to 3 December. It will be performed at the Sibikwa Best of the Best Theatre Festival in Johannesburg, on 12 and 13 November and then at the Suidoosterfees in February next year. “One of the key successes of the festival was the attentive mentoring process and the careful selection of the line-up for the main programme,” explains artistic director Thami Mbongo. “Therefore, we will build on that strength and take Zabalaza 2012 to an even higher level by offering diverse and exciting work of a high standard. It is paramount to us that the festival represents the cultural diversity and richness of the Western Cape people.” “One of the most gratifying experiences for us was visiting the various areas to watch the work in its unique locations and then give detailed feedback on the presentation to the various groups. In this way we keep in touch with what’s happening in the community and they can rely on us for guidance, and assistance,” says Bongi Mantsai. “Regrettably only applicants in the Western Cape will be considered at this stage because of limited funding. However, this could change should funds become available.” “We are looking for any theatre shows done by community theatre groups and theatre-makers who are not yet established as writers and directors in local mainstream theatre,” says Zoleka Helesi. “Professional actors and actresses who want to venture into theatre writing and directing are more than welcome to participate. We would particularly like to encourage young female directors to become involved with the festival.” Participants from the 2011 Festival may also apply for the 2012 programme, provided that they bring an entirely different production. Those who auditioned last year, and did not make it this year, may re-apply to audition with the same production provided that they can show that they have worked on improving it. Submissions can be in the form of one-handers, two-handers, puppetry, storytelling, straight drama, physical theatre, clowning, musical theatre, dance theatre and any other theatre forms. Interested community groups and theatre-makers from outside the Western Cape who wish to apply for next year’s festival may email their full contact details to the office. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply immediately so as not to miss the Friday, 4 November deadline. For more information call the Zabalaza office on 021 680 3980.

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