In the Works: Playreadings for Young Audiences

ASSITEJ South Africa

‘In the Works’ is an initiative that seeks to develop new African theatre pieces made especially for children and young people through a combination of international mentorship and direct engagement with the intended audience/s. For Virtual NAF, we bring you the first two plays from the 2020 series:  Zwelitsha by Saneliswe Yekani and Little Fists, Big Heart! by Lereko Mfono. The project is an initiative of ASSITEJ SA.

Play Reading One – Zwelitsha
Zwelitsha is about a girl named Zukhanye, living in the township of Zwelitsha, who inherits superpowers from her mother. At first Zukhanye doubts her gift, but with the support of her friends she learns to trust her power, and we witness her rescue the people of her township.

Writer: Sanelisiwe Yekani
Director: Asanda Rilityana
Cast: Sisipho Mbopa (Mandisa), Athenkosi Mfamela (Andile), Yvonne Msebenzi (Zukhanye), Livie Ncanywa (Luvuyo), Zizipho Quluba (Didi), Indalo Stofile (Nomvula)


Play Reading Two – Little Fists, Big Heart!
Set in 2002, Little Fist, Big Heart! is a play about Pula, a zealous boy on the cusp of teenagehood, who has to face his greatest battle, convincing his retired boxer father that he wants to be an astronaut rather than the boxing prodigy his family has set out for him to become.

Writer: Lereko Mfono
Director: Wynne Bredenkamp
Cast: Thapelo Maropefela (Papa), Tebatso Molapo (Pula), Indalo Stofile (Mme)




  • Format: Video
  • Duration: 20mins per video
  • Language: English, with isiXhosa & seSotho
  • Ages: 10+
  • Available From: July 2, 2020


Project Manager: Jaqueline Dommisse
Oversight: Yvette Hardie
Finance & Operations: Tinotenda Tadokera



Sanelisiwe Yekani is a Performing Arts and Television Studies Wits University graduate. She is a lover of storytelling, art and performance. She acts, writes, performs poetry and sings. Yekani has been in the industry professionally for over six years. She got involved in theatre productions mainly based in Kwa-Zulu Natal, she wrote and directed a screenplay for the Nab’Ubomi Film Foundation in 2010 which received four nominations and an award for its original score. Having moved to Johannesburg to obtain her Performance Degree at Wits University, since graduating, she has also been a performer in three different touring Theatre Productions around the country namely, William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (2018) by The National Children’s Theatre, Plastocracy (NAF 2017) by The Well-Worn Theatre Company and William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (2016) by The National Children’s Theatre. Sanelisiwe has played a lead role in a Mzansi Magic short film, Isisithelo (2016), written by Neo Sibiya in partnership with Mnet Magic in Motion. She has also done voice-over work for an Eskom Radio Drama.

Lereko Mfono is a multifaceted writer, performer and facilitator who honed his craft at the National School of the Arts and later studied Applied drama at Wits University-Drama for Life in Johannesburg. He has participated in various national and international writing projects, he was a Top 3 finalist in the Imbewu Scribe National Scriptwriting Competition in 2013, and internationally was selected into the ASSITEJ Inspiring a Generation programme that led him to travel to France, Paris in 2013 to develop self-penned Standard Bank Ovation award-winning play Narrative Dreams, which went on a national tour and was nominated for a Naledi Award. He also travelled to USA, Washington DC, in 2016 after being selected to take part in The Kennedy Centre’s New Visions/New Voices Festival where his play, The Kids From Amandla Street, enjoyed its development and a staged reading. He was selected as Artist-in-Residence by Ann-Arbor, Michigan based theatre company Spinning Dot theatre in 2017, where he presented talks on Playwriting at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. The residency coincided with the international premiere of The Kids from Amandla Street. He has facilitated and taught Creative Arts in correctional centres, high schools in and around South Africa and took part in the Department of Arts and Culture’s Artist-In-Schools programme in 2015. He worked as a company storyteller in Gcina Mhlophe’s storytelling institute Zanendaba Storytellers and has written short stories that are published online on naanelemoya.wordpress. Lereko Mfono was one of the 2019 Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans.

Asanda Rilityana was first introduced to the Arts 2005 where she did her first training in the arts at AMAC Arts and Media Access Centre for two year, she then went to Magnet Theatre where she was trained in physical theatre for two years and she was introduced to community theatre where she was working with different theatre groups from the communities around Cape Town. In 2010 she performed her second professional production, Ingcwaba lendonda directed by Mandla Mbothwe and Faniswa Yisa. She has worked as a freelance artist ever since, working with well known directors in the Arts such as Jaqueline Dommisse, Brett Bailey, Thami Mbongo, Jennie Reznek, Thoko Ntshinga and Joel Prince. In 2014 she was nominated as the best actress at the Zabalaza festival, with Mhla-Salamana by Thando Doni which also had a season at the Soweto Theater in Johannesburg. In 2015 she worked for an NGO Nyanga Arts Development Center teaching drama in high schools. More opportunities came her way, and she has worked in and out of South Africa, in the USA, Brussels, Italy, Reunion Island, Iran, France and Sweden. The main focus has been work for the young audiences in different theatre festivals. She recently joined a community based organisation called Theatre4Change Arts Project, where she is working as an Administrator and coordinator of public arts projects around the communities of Cape Town. In 2019 she was part of a Unima Russia puppet residency after which her show Iinkumbulo was born, that she also directed. She now co-own Inala theatre company, which does work for the early years. And she is one of the directors of Ibandla Labafazi private company.

Wynne Bredenkamp is a University of Cape Town graduate with distinction in a BA in Theatre Making and Performance. She co-won the Most Promising Student Writer award for being part of UCT’s student production Behind Every Yawn is a Silent Shout in the National Arts Festival. Writing, directing and producing her own work, she attended the NAF the next year and won a Standard Bank Ovation Award for her first professional production, Salt, as well as a PANSA New Writing Award. Since then she has written two plays: Warrior Green, a post-apocalyptic tale of young eco warriors for children and At The Edge of the Light, which came to life under the Theatre Arts Admin Emerging Director’s Bursary and the mentorship of Tossie Von Tonder. At the Edge of the Light was then chosen to be part of the 2018 National Arts Festival Main Stage. Other direction highlights include The Woman Who Would Be King by Esosa Edosomwan, Why Not Socialism? by Brent Meersman, and assistant director to Greg Karvellas on Clybourn Park by Bruce Norris at the Fugard Theatre and Sue Pam Grant’s Curl Up and Dye.