Announcing the African Playwriting Competition Winner 2019

On World Day of Theatre for Young Audiences, 20 March 2019, 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 (Kenya)

- 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:

Call for entries: "Stories from the Cradle of Creativity"

"Stories from the Cradle of Creativity" - a collective epic poem to be created by participants in the ASSITEJ Congress and Cradle of Creativity Festival in Cape Town

Come and be part of an exciting adventure in writing and storytelling – a communally-created “epic poem”. Everyone participating in CRADLE OF CREATIVITY in Cape Town – artists, technicians, administrators, educators, students, volunteers, and staff -- is invited to be one of the authors. 

While we call this a poem, you don’t have to be a poet or playwright to participate. You just have to be someone who has a story to tell, a story you can tell in no more than 200 characters (one-third longer than a post on Twitter). 

Though English is the official language of ASSITEJ, your writing can be in your first language. As far as what to write, we just want, as in the title, a story from the cradle of creativity, which can be fiction, non-fiction, mythic, futuristic.  Since you have only 200 characters (about the length of four haiku), you have to narrow your focus, and some of the below prompt may help

Where is our ‘cradle of creativity?  Is it a location or an inner place? How would you picture it? Is it in the past, the present, or the future? Is it tangible or ethereal?  Is it linked to other people? How do you nurture this cradle, help it grow?  How does it connect to this festival, Cape Town, or Africa? 

The simplest way to submit your story is to put it in the body of an email, which you can easily write on your smart phone, tablet, or computer.  Remember that punctuation and spaces count as characters as you work within a 200-character limit.

Once completed, please add your name, city, and country, and email to  Then WLPG co-editor and poet Kim Peter Kovac will assemble everyone’s submission into what we know will be a wonderful, sprawling, and creative piece of writing that will be posted on line at

Dialogue for The Community Performance Network captures Cradle

Dialogue defines Community Performance as socially-engaged methodologies and strategies that involve the Performing Arts in projects facilitated by, with and for community groups.

See the coverage of the Cradle of Creativity here:

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Visit Dialogue for Community for find out what happened...


Our definition covers various Performing Art forms, including:

  • Circus
  • Clowning
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Puppetry
  • Storytelling

Our definition includes work that is socially-engaged in many different, albeit interrelated, sectors, including: disability, education, health & wellbeing, human rights, international development, prisons & the criminal justice system, social change, social justice and young people.

Often, but not always, Community Performance work takes place outside of professional performance spaces. Some projects take place in schools or community centres, whilst others take place at festivals, in prisons, and sometimes even in forest clearings.

Dialogue recognises the value of Community Performance as it holds many versatile benefits for community participants, which include:

  • Communicating experiences
  • Developing creativity
  • Encouraging collaboration
  • Establishing creative literacy
  • Exploring personal voice
  • Fostering emotional safety
  • Improving physical and emotional well-being
  • Inspiring social change and civic engagement
  • Promoting tolerance
  • Supporting education and training
  • Underpinning human rights.

“community performance involves a set of attitudes or precepts more than anything else. The diverse practices […] share the belief that artistic practices can have an effect on the social world […] there is a commitment to dialogue, interaction, and a fundamental belief that the audience – the community – has something to offer”
-Petra Kuppers and Gwen Robertson [Page 2 of Kuppers, P. and Robertson, G. (2007) ‘General Introduction’ in Kuppers, P. and Robertson, G. (eds.) The Community Performance Reader, Abingdon, Oxon and New York: Routledge]

Community Performance is “an activist form of dramaturgy which aims to influence and alter the actual world, not just reflect it. It provides an avenue to individual empowerment and community development as it moves the audience into a new role: an artist, a maker of culture who can create a community”
-Susan Chandler Haedicke [Page 132 of Haedicke, S. C. (1998) ‘Dramaturgy in Community-Based Theatre’, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, vol. 13, 1: 125-132] 

“Given the field’s capacity to respond to various arenas of human endeavour it is not surprising that every practitioner I have talked with considers community-based performance not a career but a way of life”
-Jan Cohen Cruz [Page 6 of Cohen-Cruz, J. (2005) Local Acts: Community-Based Performance in the United States, New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press.]

Cradle of Creativity: a resounding success


The 19th ASSITEJ World Congress & Festival, Cradle of Creativity, has superseded the expectations of ASSITEJ SA, as well as ASSITEJ centres worldwide.

The 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and International Theatre Festival for Children and Young People, the Cradle of Creativity, was made possible through a significant grant of R2 950 000 from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), as well as with generous grants from the National Arts Council, the Department of Arts and Culture, Rand Merchant Bank, the National Research Foundation, the Goethe Institute, Government of Flanders, Pro Helvetia, Business and the Arts South Africa and the City of Cape Town, amongst others.

Dr Christel Hoffman of Germany who was one of the recipients of the ASSITEJ Applause for Lifetime Achievement Award at the Baxter Theatre Centre for her work internationally in theatre for young audiences said, “Indeed, this Congress was unique in the history of the ASSITEJ and a landmark for the future of our joined efforts.”

The National Lotteries Commission was responsible for funding crucial aspects of the event, including specifically the festival, which played out across three major venues (Baxter Theatre, City Hall and Artscape Theatre Centre) as well as at several Cultural hubs in Atlantis, Philippi, Langa and Vrygrond. The contribution from the NLC ensured that these venues were technically equipped, and that translation was available in French and Portuguese, allowing participation from across the African continent and the rest of the world. The grant also contributed towards core staff costs, youth development stipends, catering and special events, such as the Opening ceremony directed by Thando Doni and the widely-acclaimed Africa Day celebrations, curated by Mandla Mbothwe, with puppetry by Janni Younge and UNIMA. The festival took place over a period of 11 days and secured full to decently sized houses for each of 63 productions and more than 200 separate performances, involving 464 artists, creating new audiences with a particular interest being shown in theatre for the very young.

The National Lotteries Commission played a significant role in supporting the marketing of the event, specifically with the printing of newsprint programmes which were distributed widely to the public as well as to schools across the country, particularly those in the Western Cape.

The Cradle of Creativity drew 1340 delegates from around 100 countries to the event, and birthed a new network within ASSITEJ, being the Young Dance Network. The conference hosted more than 100 workshops and talks over the period, and school groups from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Limpopo and other parts of the country were able to participate in special packages which included age-appropriate performances and workshops, many of them sponsored in part or fully.

One of the participants in the Next Generation programme, Philisiwe Twjinstra, from KZN, said about the experience, "I thought they made a huge mistake to have selected me and I felt horribly bad thinking that I might have wasted an opportunity for someone else who might have used it profoundly... but suddenly my heart story galloped in excitement when I watched Sandscape. A collaboration between Zimbabwe and Nigeria. That show liberated me, and made me believe that as an African theatre maker, my stories are enough, I am enough, my way of telling narratives is enough and for the first time I understood what collaborations really meant. I am grateful that I was selected, I needed access, I needed opportunity and Next Generation residency was just what I needed to shift my view and thoughts, to shift my career." ASSITEJ SA is proud to have created a platform in which so many African theatre-makers were able to find inspiration for their futures.

The Congress, the international gathering of ASSITEJ International, elected new members to the Executive Committee of the association from Australia, Nigeria, Argentina, Chile, USA, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Russia, South Korea, and Italy. The director of ASSITEJ South Africa, Yvette Hardie, was re-elected as President of the international association for a final three-year term. The next two ASSITEJ Artistic Gatherings will take place in China (2018) and Norway (2019), with the 20th ASSITEJ World Congress & International Theatre Festival taking place in Japan in 2020.

ASSITEJ SA is grateful to all those who made this event possible, including the National Lotteries Commission. The NLC relies on funds from the proceeds of the National Lottery. The Lotteries Act guides the way in which NLC funding may be allocated. The intention of NLC funding is to make a difference to the lives of all South Africans, especially those more vulnerable and to improve the sustainability of the beneficiary organisations. Available funds are distributed to registered and qualifying non-profit organisations in the fields of charities; arts, culture and national heritage; and sport and recreation. By placing its emphasis on areas of greatest need and potential, the NLC contributes to South Africa’s development.


ASSITEJ South Africa connects and supports theatre practitioners, companies, organisations, institutions and schools across the country, who share a belief in the transformative difference that theatre makes in the lives of children and young people.

It is the national centre for ASSITEJ (the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People), which works in over 100 countries across the world. ASSITEJ SA was established in July 2007 under the leadership of Director, Yvette Hardie. ASSITEJ SA believes that every child and young person in our country deserves access to the arts, and especially to live theatre, from the earliest possible age. ASSITEJ SA focuses on: creating access to theatre for young people, supporting and developing emerging and established artists, empowering arts’ education, and connecting and advocating for the arts in the lives of young people. It works to improve the quality of theatre for young audiences in South Africa through international networking and exchange.

ASSITEJ South Africa is generously supported by the National Lotteries Commission, the National Arts Council of South Africa, Rand Merchant Bank and the Department of Arts and Culture and the National Research Foundation. Other funders, supporters and partners include the Wesgro, HCI Foundation, the Distell Foundation, the Kids of the Cape, the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Business and Arts South Africa, the Cape Tercentenary Foundation, Buz Publicity, Splitbeam Gearhouse, Theatre Arts Admin Collective, the National Arts Festival, The National School of the Arts and the Festival of Fame, Artscape, Baxter Theatre, CATHSSETA, Ruth & Anita Wise Trust, Lorenzo and Stella Chiappini Charitable Trust, Puppetry South Africa, The Arts and Culture Trust and Nedbank Arts Affinity, Institut Francaise, Alliance Francaise, Africalia, Pro Helvetia, SIDA, Goethe Institut, Tullow Oil, Copy Dog Productions, Mandela Bay Development Agency, Speeltheater Holland Studio, Bush Radio, FMR, and Cape Town Television. They have also been supported by the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity for their Theatre4Youth project.