Theatre Arts Emerging Theatre Director's Bursary


Andi Colombo is the 2024 winner of the Theatre Arts Emerging Theatre Directors Bursary, supported by WoordFees. Her production 32 Lavender Close runs from the 5th - 9th June 2024.


No Complaints, New Day, New Dawn by Carlo Daniels - 2022 | Photo: Jeremeo le Cordeur


African Gothic by Amee Lekas - 2023 | Photo: Jeremeo le Cordeur

The Theatre Arts Emerging Theatre Director’s Bursary was initiated in 2010 by Caroline Calburn of the Theatre Arts Admin Collective initially with the support of Lara Foot of the Baxter Theatre and GIPCA (now known as the ICA - Institute for the Creative Arts).  Since then the Bursary has been supported by Distell, BASA, the late Gordon Hirschowitz, the National Arts Council and most recently WoordFees.

The aim of the bursary is to support the many young and talented directors who are entering into the theatre industry, but with very little opportunity to practice their craft.  With virtually no opportunities, recognition or support from mainstream theatres, this bursary serves as an opportunity for young directors to continue to develop their skills, be mentored in the creation of a new piece of work, to have their work seen by a wider audience, particularly theatre producers, to create a space for them to establish their voice as artists as well as guide them in navigating their early years in the profession that is Directing.

The bursary, since 2010, has been open nationally to applicants who have 3 years of directing experience (this includes experience at a tertiary training level).  A total of 25 directors from Cape Town, Johannesburg and King Williamstown (out of hundreds of applications) have received the bursary. Nicola Elliott, Amy Jephta, Thando Doni and Mahlatsi Mokgonyana went on to win the Standard Bank Young Artist Award. Kim Kerfoot, Carlo Daniels and Amee Lekas each won a Fleur du Cap for best Young Director, Kim for his iconic production of Athol Fugard’s Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act (2011), Carlo for No Complaints, New Dawn, New Day (2022) and Amee for Reza de Wet's African Gothic (2023). Qondiswa James, Thando Mangcu and Nwabisa Plaaitjie were all nominated for the same award. Both Lidija Marelic and Khayelihle Dom Gumede were nominated for the Naledi Award’s Sophie Mgcina Emerging Voice Award which Dom won in 2015.  His production of Crepuscule, commissioned for The Market Theatre as a result of this award, went on to win Best Director and Best Play at the following year’s Naledi’s. Jason Jacobs was awarded the KKNK New Voices and was commissioned to present work at their festival in 2017. Tara Notcutt became an overnight sensation and a multi-award winner and Phala Ookeditse Phala went on to win numerous awards for Kafka’s Ape which continues to tour internationally and has done for 10 years. Phala acted as the Animateur for The Centre for the Less Good Idea in Maboneng, Johannesburg until 2023.  In 2017 at the Cape Town Fringe, the gold, silver and bronze medals all went to past bursary winners – Thando Doni picked up the gold for Ubuze Bam, Alan Parker the silver for Detritus and Jason Jacobs the bronze for Stof Rooi.  Almost all have been engaged in teaching the younger generation theatre making.  This is a 14-year cohort of passionate theatre makers striving for and achieving excellence.


A reflective and dynamic exhibition celebrating 13 years of the Theatre Arts Emerging Theatre Directors Bursary and its winners, as well as cracking open the current world of each, charting the journey they took to get here.

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Detritus by Alan Parker - 2013 | Photo: Dex Goodman

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My Children! My Africa! directed by Mahlatsi Mokgonyana - 2016 | Photo: Jesse Kramer


The Native who Caused all the Trouble directed by Nwabisa Plaatjie - 2017 | Photo: Jesse Kramer


In Wag Van, written and directed by Jason Jacobs - 2016 | Photo: Jesse Kramer

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Where She Walked, written and directed by Thembela Madliki - 2018 | Photos: Jesse Kramer

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A Faint Patch of Light, adapted and directed by Qondiswa James - 2017 | Photo: Dani Ndou and Lethabo Oratile