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Playwrights Guild of Canada's CASA Award Honors Three Women Playwrights in South Africa

Playwrights Guild of Canada's CASA Award Honors Three Women Playwrights in South Africa

The CASA Award, a new playwriting award for women in South Africa, was announced at Playwrights Guild of Canada's Tom Hendry Awards this past Sunday at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.

Beverley Cooper and Marcia Johnson, two members of PGC, introduced The CASA Award to the public while announcing the three, inaugural winning playwrights, Kela Maswabi, Koleka Putuma, and Philisiwe Twijnstra.

The playwrights will receive financial support, giving them both time and a place to write. They will be mentored by senior Canadian playwrights Diane Flacks, Marcia Johnson and Natalie Meisner as well as the esteemed South African theatre maker, Mwenya Kabwe.

CASA indicates a CAnadian and South African partnership. Marcia and Beverley, with fellow Canadian playwright, Sally Stubbs (among others) attended a Women Playwrights International (WPI) Conference in Cape Town in 2015 and during this time formed a partnership with Amy Jephta, President of the WPI, in order to find funding opportunities for women playwrights in Africa who lack support and time to write. They have been fundraising and generating awareness for The CASA Award in Canada ever since. Along with the South African Selection Committee (Nadia Davids, Amy Jephta, and Mwenya Kabwe), a Committee of Advisors (Rebecca Burton, Cheryl Foggo, Tara Goldstein, Rachel Kennedy, Hope McIntyre, Conni Massing, Robin Sokoloski, and Colleen Wagner), and partnering organizations (ARC Theatre Co., AWPN, Theatre Arts Admin Collective, and Hillbrow Theatre), the Canadian women are thrilled to announce the support of a new sponsor (who wishes to remain anonymous) that will ensure funding for the award for five more years.

Beverley Cooper, Coordinator of The CASA Award, stated, "The CASA Award will support and mentor women playwrights living in South Africa who have demonstrated a commitment to playwriting and will benefit from dramaturgical and financial support."


Kela Griot Maswabi is a writer finding expression in prose, poetry, and most recently, playwriting. She is intent on helping humanity by creating art and giving back love: one sentence at a time.

Award winning poet and theatre practitioner, Koleka Putuma, has taken the South African literary scene by storm with her debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia, which has sold over 2000 copies in less than 5 months. The book is on its fifth print run and has been prescribed for study at tertiary level in South African Universities.

She is the winner of the 2014 National Poetry Slam Championship and the 2016 PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize. She has been named One of Africa's top 10 poets by Badilisha, and named one of the young pioneers who took South Africa by storm in 2015 by The Sunday Times. She is also one of twelve future shapers by marie Claire SA and recently one of the one hundred young people disrupting the status-quo in South Africa by independent media.

Philisiwe Twijnstra is an award nominated South African actor, playwright and theatre director. She was part of the novel script project (2015) after which she wrote Salty Pillows, which is in the finalist for Pansa Playwright Festival (2017). Ms Twijnstra is shortlisted for Short Sharp Stories (2017) for her short story, Little black Sandals. She is currently writing her new play, Itshali, and producing her recent South African script, The Red Suitcase, while writing her first novel, Just a girl, under the mentorship of Kobus Moolman.

The CASA Project is a charitable arm of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, initiated by PGC's Women's Caucus. The goal of the project is to create meaningful connections between Canadian and African women-identified playwrights.

Playwrights Guild of Canada is a registered national arts service association mandated to advance the creative rights and interests of professional Canadian playwrights, promote Canadian plays nationally and internationally, and foster an active, evolving community of writers for the stage.

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