I met Lereko Mfono in 2015 at the Africa Youth Theatre and Dance Festival where he was presenting the reading of The Kids from Amandla Street. I hung closer to him during the festival and savoured his wealth of wisdom. I remember thinking to myself, is it possible that this man is a direct descendant of Samson? Because I had enjoyed his company and loved the respect he had for his work, I invited him to join the first Naane le Moya writing team, where he wrote quality stories and made readers fall in love with his mind. When he invited me to be stage manage The Kids From Amandla Street for its Soweto Theatre run, I had no reason to say no. I knew that I’d be in the presence of a beautifully written piece of theatre and seeing it develop under the direction of Binnie Christie was the cherry on top.
I am proud to be of Lereko’s generation but I also have a few questions which he took time to answer.
- You once said, “Theatre has the ability to hold your hand.” Besides holding ones hand, what else can theatre do?
Theatre can bridge communication gaps between people through exposing the human condition, which is despite our differences, our ability to all feel pain, loss, happiness, joy puts us on the same ground.
- What is the one thing playwrights ignore when writing for young audiences?
Their own past. Playwrights, as I do, often want to write relevant and current material for young audiences and sometimes we let go of the truth of your own childhood memories because you don’t think they will be relevant to today’s young audiences.
- What would you say is the root of xenophobia?
Entitlement, if you listen to the many reasons of those who hate the so called foreigner it is always that they are taking something that belongs to them, jobs, loved ones etc.
- You once asked Mike van Graan if writers should carry the burden of their past. Should they carry it?
I don’t think it’s a matter of should they carry it, I think it’s there regardless. Every young South African right now is aware of how much of our country’s history has affected them and sometimes you carry that burden without asking for it. I do however think it should not determine your flourishing.
- Given all the resources one needs to write and produce a play, for young audiences, what is the story you would tell?
I am busy with a concept around Mark Shuttleworth, what it meant for a regular kid to see an African reach space. Given the budget, I’d go crazy with technology, lighting, actually stage the whole space voyage!
FIVE Current Things
- What are you reading?
A play by Greig Coetzee, Happy Natives
- What are you eating?
Avos and cake
- What are you learning?
- What are you doing?
- What are you listening to?
Following successful runs at Soweto Theatre and the ASSITEJ Cradle of Creativity, The Kids from Amandla Street is on at POPArt Theatre from the 7th – 10th June. POPArt has limited seating so book your tickets here https://popartcentre.co.za/theatre/book-tickets/ for this family favourite.