Jong Sterre to Somerset East for text development

The Jakes Gerwel Foundation whose aim it is to help develop especially young talent is offering, for the first time, a mentorship programme for upcoming playwrights. This project is in collaboration with the Suidoosterfees as an extension of the festival’s existing Jong Sterre project.

While the Suidoosterfees presents an annual platform to young theatre makers to produce their work, this year the Foundation offers these artists intensive guidance with regard to text development. Amy Jephta, the respected playwright and known for, among others, the award-winning play Kristalvlakte will act as mentor. This training will stretch over three weeks in October in the Foundation’s recently restored writers house in Somerset East.

An open invitation for playwrights interested in the residence programme has been sent out earlier this year and almost forty applications – even coming from so far as Nigeria and Kenya – have been received. The finalists have been selected and asked to present their production proposals to a panel of theatre experts in the Artscape. The following candidates were announced as winners: Du Toit Albertze, Tasneem Daniels, Herschelle Benjamin, Kanya Viljoen and Keanen Engel.

Du Toit Albertze is a playwright, director and poet who has already won two Newcomer awards at the Toyota US Woordfees and the KKNK. The text he will be working on during the residence programme, Kaap, tells the story of a young white writer whose life gets caught up with those of two eccentric coloured Capetonians. The writer is in search of a community in a wounded city, but must first write a theatre piece so that he can send money home.
Tasneem Daniels, a teacher at Athwood Primary School, completed a creative writing programme at the University of the Western Cape in 2013 and it is here that the concept for her piece Opening Miela’s Box originated. This play is about the Cape Malay culture as it is experienced by the Muslim community in Cape Town.
Keanen Engel completed his honours in Theatre and Drama Studies at the Stellenbosch University in 2017. He was recently seen in the award-winning theatre piece Die Gangsters that was staged at the Toyota US Woordfees and also at the Suidoosterfees. His planned drama piece Slim mense focuses on a mother figure who is trying to make sense of a series of incomprehensible events in her life and past by means of practices that are contrary to her religious beliefs.
Herschelle Benjamin is currently enrolled for his master’s degree in Theatre and Drama Studies at the Stellenbosch University. In 2018 he made his debut as one of Artscape’s New Voices with his piece Korreltjie Kop Klong is my Dood. In the same year he received a Teksmark writers bursary from Kunste Onbeperk and NATi as well as the Elizabeth MacLennan International Scholarship of the Scottish Universities’ Summer School (SUISS). The piece Herschelle will work on, Ons al kind, is set in a small rural town where the community is suddenly rocked by several farm murders.
Kanya Viljoen is also busy with a master’s degree in Theatre and Drama and is enrolled at the University of Cape Town. She made her debut recently by staging the theatre piece RAAK at the Vrystaat Kunstefees 2018. It was nominated for Best Production and it also received two KykNET Fiësta nominations. Last year Kanya has been named Best Emerging Director by the South African Theatre Magazine (SATMag) and this year she received a nomination for a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award. Kanya’s Die man en die maan uses physical theatre and poetic monologue as media to tell the magical story of a family that is being torn apart by the moon.

After the development of these five unique texts, they will be staged during the Suidoosterfees that will run from 27 April to 3 May 2020 in Artscape, Cape Town.