ASSITEJ SA African Playwriting Competition winner


On World Day of Theatre for Young Audiences, 20 March, ASSITEJ SA is delighted to announce the winner of our 2nd African Playwriting competition.

The ASSITEJ African Playwriting Competition seeks to nurture and identify new plays written by South African and African writers which will resonate with South African and African audiences from 0 – 19. The winning play will be produced and presented at the Cradle of Creativity 2019, a Biennial International Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences in South Africa to be held at the Baxter Theatre Centre in Cape Town from 20 to 25 August 2019. The focus for Cradle of Creativity is intercultural collaboration in theatre for young audiences, and this year’s winner certainly represents the fruits of a successful intercultural exploration.

The winning play is: Dipalo by Selloane Mokuku (South Africa) and Ginni Manning (UK), mentored by Kelsey Mesa of the Kennedy Centre, USA.

Congratulations to this creative team who produced a powerful, well-crafted and intriguing text for teen audiences that we are excited to share at Cradle of Creativity 2019.

In our search for new African voices in theatre for young audiences, almost forty plays were submitted from all over the continent, including Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. A shortlist of 8 plays was announced in December 2018, including 3 plays from the greater African Continent, and 5 from South Africa.

ASSITEJ SA partnered with Deirdré Kelly Lavrakas and Kim Peter Kovac of the John F Kennedy Centre’s New Visions/New Voices Festival programme in Washington DC to select the mentors for the shortlisted plays. They were joined by Karin Serres from France and Tony Mack from Australia, all of Write Local Play Global, who reached out to the mentors and connected them to the writers. We are grateful for their support, friendship and unparalleled generosity; this project could truly not have happened without the insight, knowledge and experience of this team.

Each playwright on the shortlist was paired with an expert from the international ASSITEJ network of professionals for online mentoring, coaching, and dramaturgy. These intercultural partnerships included:

– Stephen Colella, Associate Artistic Director and Dramaturg, Young People’s Theatre in Toronto, Canada; working with SON OF THE NILE, by Afeif Ismail, (Sudan); Co-transcreated from Arabic by Vivienne Glance and Afeif Ismail

– Fraser Corfield, Artistic Director of Australian Theatre for Young People, Sydney, Australia; working with THE BOOK OF AFRANCIENTEC by Lungile Mncube (South Africa)

– Thembi Duncan, Playwright, Director, Actor, and Director of Arts Engagement and Education at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, New York, USA; working with FRAGMENTS by Nwabisa Plaatjie (South Africa)

– Kevin Dyer, playwright; Associate Artist, The Dukes Lancaster; Artistic Associate, Farnham Maltings; Associate Writer, Action Transport Theatre, UK; working with THE TERRIFIED TOKOLOSHE by Megan Furniss (South Africa)

– Tamara Guhrs, Playwright, director, educator, Johannesburg, South Africa; working with PATCHES by Paul Ugbede (Kenya)

– Kelsey Mesa, Director, Playwright, Manager of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival and Theater Education; Washington, DC; working with DIPALO by Lalu Mokuku (South Africa) and Ginni Manning (UK)

– Lereko Mfono, Playwright, Actor, Director, Johannesburg, South Africa; working with HANNAH AND THE ANGEL by Alex N Nderitu (

– Scot Reese, Director, Actor, Professor, head of the performance area, University of Maryland Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies; working with SOLDIERLANDS by Tsungayi Hatitye (Zimbabwe)

We are grateful to all the mentors for their gift of time and expertise and of course delighted by the new works that have emerged from this project, as well as the opportunity for international collaborations and sharing of ideas. The congratulations cannot only be for the winner; each of the playwrights worked hard to refine and develop their plays, and the main beneficiary of all this work is children and young people from Africa who now have the possibility of experiencing new relatable and resonant stories on stage. While only one of these plays can be represented at Cradle of Creativity, ASSITEJ SA will be working with a number of the writers to help them stage their plays and to reach their audiences.

It is significant that this announcement comes on 20 March, the World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People, which is celebrated by ASSITEJ members in more than 100 countries across the globe. We trust that this new work will allow for new audiences to be reached as we all strive to “Take a Child to the Theatre Today”.

To learn more about the global #Takeachildtothetheatre campaign, go to

To find out what is happening in South Africa for the campaign, visit:


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