Co-founders of the Imbewu Trust Samantha de Romijn and Paul Griffiths with Darrel Bristow-Bovey, centre, at the awards ceremony.
Veteran columnist, journalist and author Darrel Bristow-Bovey has scooped the 2017 SCrIBE Scriptwriting Competition.

The announcement was made last week after staged readings were held of the top three finalists’ scripts. The two other finalists were Two Lovers by Ter Hollmann and Gardening and Other Distractions by Juliette Rose-Innes.

Bristow-Bovey’s play, Priest With Balloons - presented by the Imbewu Trust - is set to have a professional run at a Cape Town theatre next year.

Produced by the Imbewu Trust and now celebrating its sixth year, SCrIBE is a national competition which provides the opportunity for playwrights to develop their work, including all finalists having the opportunity to be involved in feedback sessions with audience members at the readings of their scripts.

Speaking after his prestigious win, Bristow-Bovey commented, “I’m a first-time and somewhat insecure theatre writer, and being part of such a generous, encouraging and creatively stimulating process is one of the greatest gifts I have received in my life, both professionally and personally.”

Priest with Balloons takes place in a tiny, impoverished fishing village on the West Coast, where in the grip of a drought the fabric of the community is beginning to unravel. Against this background, the local reverend of the church hatches an unusual plan to unite and inspire his congregation.

But he is locked in conflict with his brother, a television actor visiting from Johannesburg, and with Xolisa, the politically conscientised daughter of his domestic worker - and finally with himself and his own faith and his belief in his own place in the New South Africa.

Bristow-Bovey is a columnist for several newspapers, websites and magazines as well as a travel writer, screenwriter and public speaker. The author of five published books, I Moved Your Cheese, has been translated into seven languages, and SuperZero, won the Percy Fitzpatrick Prize for Youth Literature. His most recent book is One Midlife Crisis and Speedo was a finalist for the Caine Prize for African Literature.

The criteria for the SCrIBE competition included that scripts must be in English; must not have been previously produced, nor have existing future plans of being produced.

Scripts should not be longer than 40 pages or 80 minutes long and with a maximum of five cast members and entrants must be over 18 years old. The Imbewu Trust and judges were again looking for original content that explores the diverse range of South African stories. The panel of SCrIBE judges comprises a group of seasoned theatre practitioners.

“It is encouraging that we received such a diverse range of entries,” said Samantha de Romijn, co-founder of the Imbewu Trust. “The readings of the finalists once again proved to be engaging and constructive.”

Speaking at the event, co-founder Paul Griffiths said SCrIBE’s achievements to date included presenting four productions; SCrIBBLERS Dream writing workshops in Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth and staged readings of 30 finalists’ plays, including the benefit of post-show discussions.

* Visit www.imbewuarts.com for more information.