ROYAL COURT – Call for playwrights – Zimbabwe

The Royal Court runs long-term play development projects in many different countries, helping to stimulate new writing and bringing many of these writers and plays to London for further work and sometimes productions. At any one time, the International Department will be working with dozens of playwrights through specific projects. Long-term play development relationships now exist through projects and exchanges with writers from Columbia, Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Uganda, Nigeria, Syria and many more. The British Council has been a key collaborator and supporter of many of the Royal Court International programmes and is delighted to be in a position to extend this work to playwrights from South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Phase One – Elyse Dodgson, Head of International Department, Royal Court will travel to South Africa where the workshop will take place, accompanied by two workshop leaders to conduct a 7 day workshop for a total of 12 Zimbabwean participants. The aim of the workshop is to support each individual participant in writing a new contemporary play. The workshop will be designed for the needs of each writer, explore individual interests, and in the end each writer will be asked to propose an outline of a new idea for a contemporary and original play. The first draft of this play will be submitted three months after the end of the first workshop. The workshop will consist of group and individual sessions and there will also be time for writing.

Phase Two – Once these plays are received, they are read (in their original language by one of our readers/translators if appropriate), who will then make recommendations on how or whether to proceed with each play. The team, predominantly the same (but we try to include a director if possible), travel out to work on the plays individually with the writers and do more group work exploring some common problems. Sometimes at this stage actors are used and workshops and readings done of the plays. This again will last about a week. At the end of this phase, the writers are asked to work on a next draft.

Phase Three – The new drafts are again read, assessed and translated before the team returns for the final phase of development work. This can sometimes involve public rehearsed readings in the countries, either of extracts or of whole plays as well as individual meetings with each writer. Sometimes at this phase we attach the writers to local directors who will help to facilitate the development of the plays. The first three phases usually last between 18 months and two years.



The workshop will take place at Mokoya Lodge South Africa. Accommodation, food and workshop spaces will be provided.


The British Council office in Harare will book and pay your travel as well as pay for visas to get you out to South Africa for the workshop. Please be aware that you will be required to have a valid passport in order to attend the workshop. The British Council will not be in a position to help pay for any costs related to obtaining your passport.


8 March 2013 – disseminate open call
19 April 2013 – application deadline
10 May 2013 – announce participants

26th June 2013 – Fly to Johannesburg, South Africa

27th June – 5th July 2013 – Workshops

6th July – departure from South Africa

There will also be further activities as described in the 3 phases above, by applying you are committing yourself to being involved in the project for up to two years.

A writer’s process – third session

Everyone is requested to think about their writing process. How would you define that process? When you say that you are waiting for a ‘spark’ to ignite the creative juices, do you know what that spark is? How it looks like? Feel like? Taste like? What are you waiting to understand before you can unleash your ink on the page? Is it an imagine of a character? A specific setting? A line? A face?

Whatever it is, do you understand why it is so important to your writing? To your process? Do you want to understand it? Do you want to control it? Take charge? Or at least make an attempt? If yes, I’d like to you to think of a metaphor that would explain the process. How does the metaphor capture the different stages of your writing? How does it communicate that process to someone? Can you give a parallel analysis of how the metaphor not only mirrors but gives a detailed breakdown description of the process? This information should enable me to follow step-by-step instruction of how you work. Is this possible? How detailed can you be? How much can you unlock? I.e. Someone once told me that their writing process is like a kite (metaphor). When they begin a new writing they envision the process to be like building a kite. First you need material; plastic, sticks, string, pins, etc. These in their writing process mirrors research. For instance, you need your grounding data or evidence – sticks hold or provide the basic structure for a kite. So they will look for them first to build the skeleton of a kite. In their writing, this could mean key grounding literature. If you are writing a book about Zombies, what are the basic elements which you must adhere to or establish for your story to hold? Etc… One can go on to explain how the metaphor reveals how and where the writer places themselves in their writing and defines a sense of direction.

If you’ve never did this before, take the challenge and you will see it will start to show you, at the very least, how well you understand or have taken some things for granted in your writing. This process might be spontaneous and mysterious for many but within that there is great room for a writer to
understand the workings behind it. Try new things, learn how to stimulate yourself and your writing. We might not have figured out the secret to teach writing but we know how to enable the process. So take a chance. Write a metaphor you think would best explain your process and post it here. You might be amazed at something small you discover about your writing.

Is this important?
Well, you decide.

Date: 4 March 2013

Venue: The Wits Writing Centre


Text editing: a handbook for students and practitioners

By Kris Van de Poel, Wannie Carstens and John Linnegar (published by ASP Editions, Brussels)

What is a text editor? What does the process of editing texts involve? What level of intervention is required for practitioners to make a text communicate effectively?

Text editing: a handbook for students and practitioners is a first for South Africa and will have an international appeal. It sets out to answer these questions directly and in the amount of detail appropriate to a work that describes the text editor’s complex craft. As the basis for answering the questions, the authors have adopted – and adapted – renowned Dutch linguist Jan Renkema’s text-evaluation model for the text-editing process, the elements of which form a leitmotiv that runs through the 12 chapters of Text editing.

Text editing is a North–South collaboration between two academics in the field of applied linguistics – Professor Kris Van de Poel of the University of Antwerp in Belgium’s Research Unit for Applied Language Studies and Professor Wannie Carstens, professor of Afrikaans linguistics and current director of the School of Languages at North-West University (Potchefstroom campus) – and a professional trainer of text editors and proofreaders in South Africa for more than a decade, John Linnegar, himself a text editor of long standing.

At once thoroughly researched and firmly grounded in modern editing practice, this comprehensive, highly accessible handbook covers many aspects of the text editor’s craft:

For the student of language practice or publishing studies it will prove to be an invaluable source of information about the profile of a text editor

  1. the types and levels of text editing as a process
  2. the many different roles that the text editor can play as a language practitioner
  3. the issues with which the editor has to deal, including plagiarism, copyright, defamation/libel and the question of ethics in editing practice generally the complex and comprehensive process that text editing is.

For the seasoned practitioner

  1. the systematic approach offered by Renkema’s model should prove to be as illuminating as the chapter on resources – with its lists of print and online references regarded as essential aids to the professional – and the extensive bibliography
  2. the new text on producing ebooks and digital media and on English as a lingua franca should open up new vistas to the more progressive or tech-savvy editor.

From the theoretical initial chapters through the nitty-gritty of intervening to improve the content, structure, wording, and presentation of various documents to the pièce de résistance that is the final chapter (where a group of text editors prove their mettle at critiquing and improving a selection of texts), this volume covers the whole gamut of the text editing process.

An English edition of this nature will attract an international readership and the authors have borne in mind the needs of two particular groups: English native-speakers who are likely to have to edit texts written by non-native speakers of English as a second or third language; and text editors who themselves are not native-speaking users of English. These are common phenomena with which text editors in South Africa have to deal regularly.
For the latter group the detailed treatment of the grammatical, syntactic, morphological, spelling and punctuation facets of the editor’s armoury should be particularly helpful.

In addition, the appendices of five brief exposés on a variety of Englishes and the pitfalls and challenges they present to text editors worldwide will be particularly helpful for those editing texts drafted by English non-native speakers.

The result is an expansive text that gives full recognition to the role of the text editor not only as such but also as proofreader, project manager, freelance, and in a wide range of other guises and situations. Editing for digital media and onscreen editing are also given appropriate consideration.
Subtitled A handbook for students and practitioners the editors believe it to be not only an important and useful point of entry into the profession of text editing but also an essential guide to practising editors who perhaps have not had any formal training in their craft. For both groups, the many lists, checklists, tabulated matter and diagrams will prove to be particularly supportive, making this an essential addition to the practitioner’s reference library.

Editor’s notes

Kris Van de Poel of the University of Antwerp (Belgium) Research Unit for Applied Language Studies is an applied linguist in the real sense of the word, always looking for challenges in the area of language in use. During her sojourns in Denmark and Scotland she ran a successful text-editing business called editek which aimed to make intercultural texts say what they were meant to say. Back in Belgium, she has guided translators and linguists along the slippery slopes of effective and professional communication, trying to raise their communicative awareness. Moreover, she has devoted much research time to text editing in academic and professional contexts, training materials for teaching, learning and self-evaluation.

Wannie Carstens, professor of Afrikaans linguistics and current director of the School of Languages at North-West University (Potchefstroom campus) in South Africa, has carried out some pioneering work on normative grammar and text linguistics. In the Text editing team he is the analytical reader and he has the most comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the theoretical and world literature on the topic. He has the unique capacity to absorb, digest and re-digest the literature on the topic in such a way that even the most intricate findings become accessible to an interested audience. His drive in teaching generations of students has ensured a place for qualitative text editing in the minds and professional lives of many of his graduates.

John Linnegar of McGillivray Linnegar Associates based in Cape Town is firmly rooted in the language practice within the publishing industry. Being a sought-after professional trainer of text editors, subeditors, proofreaders, project managers and indexers, John brings his hands-on experience in publishing and his abiding passion for language to Text editing. A strong advocate of professionalisation for practitioners in the field, he is immediate past chairman of the national Professional Editors’ Group and an associate of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders in the United Kingdom. A former schoolteacher, and also an inhouse copy editor/proofreader, subeditor, project manager for books and magazines, and a published author himself, he brings 30 years of experience to his role as co-author of the present volume.

What binds the three authors together is their passionate belief in the need for text editing to have solid foundations, at the same time acknowledging that theory is firmly rooted in practice and that in turn practice can be perfected through teaching and training.

Text editing chapter by chapter:
• Chapter 1 From language practice to model building: the foundations of text editing.
• Chapter 2 Text as a domain of text editing – an applied model.
• Chapter 3 The profile of a text editor.
• Chapter 4 Process and procedure: doing text editing.
• Chapter 5 The text editor and editorial project management.
• Chapters 6 to 10 Text editing in practice: content, structure, wording and presentation.
• Chapter 11 Resources.
• Chapter 12 Text editing in practice: the editors’ voice – a comparative analysis of texts.
• Extensive bibliography.