The 2025 National Playwright Competition Opens Call for Entry

The 2025 National Playwright Competition Opens Call for Entry
Pictured at the 2022 National Playwright Award announcement Ashraf Johaardien from Business and Arts South Africa National Playwright winner Sibongakonke Mama and judging co ordinator Monageng Vice Motshab

New stories and voices for the South African stage are essential if theatre is to reflect the hearts and minds of the country’s people. Founded in 2018, and managed by the National Arts Festival, the National Playwright Competition, in partnership with HEINEKEN Beverages, is playing a critical role in helping South African script writers from across the country tell their stories and bring their work to life. Possibly even seeing their play transformed into a fully-fledged production at the National Arts Festival!

A call for entry is now live for the 2025 iteration of the competition that counts Sibongakonke Mama, Koleka Putuma and Amy Louise Wilson among its previous winners. In 2022, the National Playwright Competition drew 245 entries from across South Africa.

Open to unpublished playwrights who are over the age of 18 and living anywhere in South Africa, the competition calls for scripts, partial scripts, or script synopses with a sample of writing in any of South Africa’s official languages. The works are then carefully evaluated by an adjudication panel chaired by Monageng ‘Vice’ Motshabi and five finalists are selected.

Each of the finalists will receive R5 000 in prize money and will be assigned an experienced writing mentor to assist them in completing their script. The completed play scripts are then evaluated, and an overall winner is selected.

The winning playwright will go on to have their play produced and premiered at the National Arts Festival in 2025. The winner will also receive an additional R20 000 in prize money.

Says the National Arts Festival’s Artistic Director, Rucera Seethal, “This is a particularly rewarding project for our team to work on as we see the creative process through from inception to presentation on stage. The writing and reworking of the script can be an arduous and emotional experience for playwrights, which is why the mentorship this competition provides is so essential to support new voices in the sector. We are in awe of the bravery and grit of our contestants as they travel the path to a finished script.”

HEINEKEN Beverages have continued the partnership following the merger with Distell, the previous sponsor. Millicent Maroga, Corporate Affairs Director for HEINEKEN enthuses regarding the competition and its role; “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Arts Festival, we reflect on the power of the arts to inspire dialogue, foster understanding, and promote democracy. HEINEKEN Beverages is proud to sponsor the National Playwright Competition, a testament to our enduring commitment to nurturing new voices and supporting the vibrant landscape of South African theatre. Over the past six years, in partnership with the National Arts Festival, we have seen the profound impact of this initiative on the arts community. This year’s competition celebrates the exceptional talent that continues to emerge from our nation’s diverse cultural fabric. We look forward to seeing how these new works will inspire and captivate audiences, reflecting the hearts and minds of South Africa’s people.”

The entry form for the 2025 National Playwright Competition can be found here. Entries will close on 2 August midnight SAST.

Any queries should be sent to [email protected]