NATi Jong Sterre/Rising Stars Project: 2021 programme

Abduragman Adams

NATi, the Jakes Gerwel Foundation, Suidoosterfees and Artscape aim to develop the talent of upcoming playwrights though this shared project. This intensive mentorship programme is presented under guidance of Abduragman Adams, experienced actor and playwright. The young playwrights’ work will be developed for the 2022 Suidoosterfees and the playwrights will get the chance to stage extracts from their plays on Kunste Onbeperk, the parent company of the KKNK, at the Baxtre Theatre in Cape Town. Rafiek Mammon is at the helm of the production development.

We are proud of the following upcoming playwrights who are part of 2021 programme.

Heloïne Armstrong

Heloïne Armstrong is a multidisciplinary artist and community practitioner, originally from Rosemore in George. She completed her BA degree in development studies at Stellenbosch University as a proud Masakh’iSizwe / Let’s Build the Nation Bursary holder. She has a varied work background in the creative arts, the media industry and inside communities and has worked for a variety of employers, such as the government, universities, NGOs and NPOs in the provinces of the Western and Northern Cape. As a woman and a feminist, Heloïne is passionate about storytelling and foregrounding issues affecting the marginalised. Currently, she is based in O’Kiep where she raises funds for the arts, works with a contemporary dance theatre company, is involved in an outreach programme, writes and draws inspiration from the enigmatic Namaqualand.

Henque Heymans

Henque Heymans discovered his love for writing while he worked in the television industry under Franz Marx and Christo Compion and he has since turned to writing for film and also quite recently for the theatre as well. In 2016 he collaborated on and wrote for South Africa’s first one-on-one theatre production DEURnis. For this ambitious pioneering work in place-specific theatre he received his first ATKV Woordveertjie nomination in 2017 as well as the Blou Fïesta Prize in 2018. Henque distinguished himself in 2019 with diverse and outstanding productions he brought to different stages, for example Birthing Nureyev, as flagship for the National Arts Festival, Kamerverlaat, that received gold at the ATKV Tjokkertoneel, and the ATKV Tienertoneel production Br(o)os that earned him silver. Henque’s rich texts are coveted by actors who strive to develop their full potential, and nominations and awards from Aardklop, KykNET Fïesta and the Woordfees for best actor – with even a Naledi Theatre Award in 2020 – continue to flow in.

Jane Mamotse Mpholo

Jane Mamotse Mpholo, who grew up in Botshabelo, completed her BA degree in drama and theatre arts at the University of the Free State where she was also a runner-up for the Elsa Krantz medal for artistic achievement in 2012. Jane has many titles under her belt: actress, playwright, radio drama writer, author, project manager, producer, speaker, translator, voice-over artist, model and arts facilitator, to name but a few. Her theatre piece Psalm69 that is based on her personal journey in life was showcased at the South African State Theatre in 2017, performed as part of The Global Leadership Summit in 2018 and was seen at the Soweto Theatre in 2019. Jane describes the workshop production Alpha under the direction of Erwin Maas from the United States and Stef De Paepe from Belgium at the Vrystaat Theatre Festival in 2018 as an acting highlight. She was also honoured to be cast as Winston in The Island, a piece that was directed by the much loved and respected Dr Jerry Mofokeng wa Makhetha in 2019. Jane continues to uplift and inspire others as provincial ambassador for Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), Love Life‘s role model of the year (2020/21) and as campaigner for women’s rights.

Melissa Myburgh

Melissa Myburgh is an upcoming actress, playwright and director. She completed her BA honours degree in scriptwriting in 2020. She made her television debut in 2019 in Lui maar op Belinda and played the female lead role Mika Brink in the 2020 KykNET series Kompleks. Melissa produced two debut plays at the 2018 Woordfees, namely Kansel and Deurmekaar. The highly successful 2020 Wordfees comedy “Bless” die Blou Bal in which she performed was also written and directed by her. Another highlight, also at the 2020 Woordfees, was the nomination for a Woordfeestrofee for NiksAllesTogIets where she was involved in the capacity of co-writer and actress. Melissa aims to entertain as well as challenge audiences through her theatre. An ideal she strives for is to create plays that will draw younger audiences to the theatre and ensure a new generation of theatregoers.

Stephren Saayman

Stephren Saayman is an upcoming writer, theatre maker and actor from Riversdale in the Western Cape. He completed his BA in drama and theatre studies at Stellenbosch University. When Stephren was in his second year (2018) he already received a Kanna nomination for best upcoming artist for his first piece Brandmerk. His second text Ek, Eva received the award for most innovative production at the Zabalaza Theatre Festival in 2020. He is also a co-writer of Heads or Tail(s)? that was nominated as one of the best productions at the Zabalaza Theatre Festival in 2021. Stephren further fills his shoes as actor in theatre productions such as In Slavenhuis 39 that premiered in 2019 at the Woordfees and Mannetjie that was performed at this year’s Suidoosterfees. His television appearances include the series Suidooster, Dwaalster and Kompleks. With several awards from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape behind him, he strives to bring healing for the soul and challenges for the mind through his theatre.