Alert! Poet and performance artist Phillippa yaa de Villiers has been announced as the winner of the National Arts Festival‘s Writing Beyond the Fringe initiative, for a literary work called The Day that Jesus Dropped the Ball… and other stories. She wins 3 000 euros and will soon jet off on a four-week artistic exchange programme in Belgium that includes an appearance at the Passa Porta Literary Festival.
Congratulations Phillippa! Here’s more from the NAF:
Press release – from the National Arts Festival
Writer, poet and playwright, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, was announced today as the winner of the National Arts Festival’s Writing Beyond the Fringe initiative, and has been selected to participate in a four week funded exchange programme at the Passa Porta Literary Festival in Belgium from 21 March to 19 April 2009.
The Passa Porta Festival in Belgium brings together writers from different countries for a one month residency during which they explore themes of
multiculturalism, multilingualism, openness, boundary-crossing, exchange and dialogue.
The National Arts Festival’s Writing Beyond the Fringe project was initiated to give writers who have previously had work staged at the National Arts Festival Fringe a fresh injection of creative inspiration. Thirty six writers submitted manuscripts for the project, which were judged by Tim Huisamen, lecturer in language studies at Rhodes University and Romie Singh, Education Producer at ABC Ulwazi. The final selection was made by representatives of the Passa Porta Festival and de Buren Literary Project.
Phillippa was selected for the exchange programme from a group of four finalists who were nominated by the South African adjudicators. The other finalists, James Cairns, Kurt Egelhof and Brink Scholtz, will join Phillippa in a series of readings of their stories as part of the 2009 National Arts Festival. Each of the writers will have their manuscripts produced as Digital Radio Books which will be translated into four different languages
and made available as CDs and free Internet downloads. The four writers will also each receive three thousand Euros.
Phillippa submitted The Day that Jesus Dropped the Ball… and other stories, which Huisamen described as “a work that stood head and shoulders above the rest in quality of writing, intellectual subtlety and being in tune with contemporary aesthetic and creative practice.”
Born to a mixed race couple in apartheid South Africa and brought up in a foster home, Phillipa wrote and performed, Original Skin, at the 2008 National Arts Festival Fringe through which she exposed and challenged her own, complex real-life persona.
During 2006, Philippa published her first volume of poetry, Taller than Buildings, with a grant that she won from the Centre for the Book. The anthology is now in its second edition. In the same year, she also appeared at the Jozi Spoken Word Festival, and was invited to participate at the 12th Havana International Poetry Festival in Cuba.
During 2005, she was the runner-up best writer in the Performing Arts Network of South Africa’s Festival of Contemporary Theatre Readings for her play, Where the Children Live. The script also received an Audience Award.
Fringe Festival Manager, Kate Axe Davies, said that the Writing Beyond the Fringe initiative was a great opportunity for playwrights and poets to take their work further. “Too few Fringe artists receive national or international recognition for their work and this project not only inspires the creation of new works, but will also give much-needed exposure to South African writers,” said Axe Davies.
The 35th National Arts Festival runs from 2 – 11 July 2009 and is sponsored by The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Arts Council, The National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund and the Sunday Independent.
For further information visit the website www.nationalartsfestival.co.za or telephone (046) 603 1103.
- Taller than Buildings by Phillippa de Villiers
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Photo courtesy Victor Dlamini