This incubation project was created out of a response to the lack of experience that theatre practitioners had in South Africa in seeing and creating meaningful, age appropriate indigenous theatre for the very young. As well as the immense need to create uniquely South African and African theatrical experiences for our young audiences on the African continent.


In 2013, Magnet Theatre for the first time ventured into theatre for Early Years (2 – 6 years old). With the support of DG Murray and ASSITEJ South Africa, Roberto Frabetti (from La Barracca Testoni Ragazzi in Bologna, Italy) came out to South Africa to run workshops for the trainees on the Magnet Theatre Full Time Training and Job Creation Programme. The production TREE/BOOM/UMTHI was the fruit of that meeting, and resulted in an overwhelmingly positive response. This response indicated a tangible need for a mostly neglected audience to have access to theatre. Therefore in 2015, Magnet Theatre once again initiated an Early Years Theatre training module, with the support of the Goethe-Institut South Africa and with input from Helios Theater in Germany.This became the seed for what would become the Early Years Incubator Project.


In 2015, Magnet Theatre was also fortunate to be awarded a Flagship grant from the National Arts Council for the development of a youth company with the specific intention of creating and touring new performance work for the under 7’s. Magnet Theatre recognized that theatre for the under 7’s was both a vital and important part of the psycho-social development of children as well as addressing the lack of high quality, creative, indigenous multilingual work for that age group in South Africa. There was also a need to reach children who were unable to have access to these performance experiences; as well as develop audiences for theatre in general in South Africa.

Research has shown that investing in performance for the early years is a long term investment in growing adult audiences for the industry. As a result of the Flagship grant and other initiatives, Magnet Theatre created 3 new works for children ranging from 0 – 7 years of age (Ekhaya, KNOCK! and Scoop:Kithchen Play for Carers and Babes) during 2015. These works were also created with the support of the Goethe-Institut, Helios Theater, Gabi Dan Droste and Anna Newall from Replay Theatre in Ireland with funding from UK/SA Seasons.


Helios Theater was once more invited to collaborate with Magnet Theatre in 2016 as the first and second partnerships were a great match: bringing together shared values in regard to theatre and relationships with audiences. Helios’s focus on non- narrative work and on materials links well with Magnet Theatre’s emphasis on the body and on image theatre. A partnership with the Goethe- Institut was also resumed for this project due to the shared vision of both organizations- to empower young people in the industry and to facilitate the growth of Early Years work, by providing an opportunity for new work to be created under the mentorship of experienced teachers and practitioners. Since this incubation model had been so successful for South African performers and theatre-makers, it was determined that the training should be offered to artists in other countries on the continent- further extending the impact of the work.


In 2018, Magnet Theatre was honoured to host another Early Years incubation project in partnership with the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg and their long term artistic collaborators from Helios Theater. It was an opportunity to further develop, expand and nurture this project’s objectives meaning that many more Early Years audiences would potentially be reached across the African continent.


The objectives of this project were aimed at: upskilling 17 young South African theatre makers in the creation of 4 new works for under seven year olds; upskilling 6 theatre makers from other parts of Africa in the Early years theatre making module, and creating a further 2 productions; establishing creative relationships for young theatre makers across the continent; and developing and performing 6 new high quality Early Years works at Magnet Theatre as part of a Mini Early Years festival. The project also culminated in a week long touring of the South African Early Years Works; reaching the poorest, least serviced parts of Cape Town communities: crèche’s, child care centres and preschools. This tour allowed for these already created works to reach a wider audience.


In order to achieve these objectives, the Early Years Incubator Project trained each of the participants to have a deeper understanding of the psychology of a very young audience. To learn effective methods to create a special environment that invites children to actively discover and explore; while uncovering techniques to sustain children’s interest and concentration. To develop an understanding behind the principals of Helios’s use of Material Theatre and Magnet Theatre’s use of Physical Theatre in order to create indigenous age appropriate African Theatre for Early Years audiences.



Jennie Reznek  (BA Perf. Dip in Speech and Drama, UCT; Ecole Jaques Lecoq, Paris; MA ,UCT) is a graduate of University of Cape Town Drama school and studied in Paris with Jacques Lecoq for two years (1984 -1986). She is a director of Magnet Theatre and  has lectured in movement at University of Cape Town. She has worked as an aerialist and clown in the circus; a movement director; choreographer; a puppeteer with Handspring Puppet Company and is responsible for the bulk of the  creative and teaching programs at Magnet.

Artistic Director/ Magnet Theatre

Jennie Reznek


Asiphe Lili is a Magnet Theatre graduate. She was a EPWP intern in 2013, where she focused on stage and set design. Under the program she designed Inkanuko by Spenathi Mayekiso, Purpose by Lwanda Sindaphi and a design exhibition of the Black Hermit by Ngungi wa Thiong'o, under the mentorship of Craig Leo. Her other work includes, Kudu by Lwanda Sindaphi, Knock by Jennie Reznek and Aha! by Nwabisa Plaatjie.


Asiphe Lili

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Puleng Lange-Stewart is a writer, playwright, filmmaker, director, designer and illustrator. In 2016, she was one of three shortlisted writers in the national PEN student writing competition. As a queer, feminist, artist and mother of colour, she hopes to find ways to explore and question the practices and hierarchies that continue to erode human dignity and self-determinacy for so many within the context of South Africa and Africa as a whole. Her work is deeply embedded in a decolonial framework which hopes to elevate and recentre African bodies and voices as a response to its violent historical negation.


Puleng Lange-Stewart

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Barbara Kölling is a theatre-director from Germany who has extensive experience in the area of theatre for young audiences and in the last 8 years has developed a lot of work for the very, very young in the 0 -1 year age group. She is one of the artistic directors of the internationally acclaimed and award winning HELIOS Theatre in Hamm, one of the most important free theatre groups in Germany. HELIOS Theatre has a “children’s-theatre-house“, where theatre for and with the young audience takes place. 

Artistic Director/ Helios

Barbara Kölling


Anna-Sophia Zimniak discovered her passion for theatre in school. After an excursion into the field of psychology she graduated as a B. A. in theatre pedagogy at the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrueck. Interested in the process of creating plays with and for children and teenagers and fascinated by performance art and physical theatre, she joined HELIOS Theater in 2012 as a theatre pedagogue and performer. 

Assistant Teacher/ Helios

Anna-Sophia Zimniak



Themba Stewart  graduated from University of Cape Town as a theatre maker in 2008. He has since worked as a freelance production manager, director, designer and performer. Themba has managed multiple shows in theatre/site specific festivals, venues and site specific spaces in the country and internationally. He started working with Magnet theatre in 2011 and has been a production, tour, stage and venue manager for shows in Cape Town and abroad.

Production Manager

Themba Stewart


Andi Colombo completed her honours degree in Theatre Making at the University of Cape Town in 2017.

She is a multi-disciplined artist, finding immense joy in song, poetry, movement-based work and object manipulation. Working as an actress, director, writer and stage manager, she has already coveted nominations and awards for her work PAN, and most recently, performed in a body-focused exploration piece called Fill. Andi has been involved in technically operating and stage-managing numerous productions by highly acclaimed directors over the last few years. 

Stage Manager

Andi Colombo

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Jaqueline Dommisse is the Artistic Director of a small independent theatre company, Hearts & Eyes Theatre Collective. She has numerous accolades under her belt as both a theatre maker, director and teacher. In 2015 she was appointed Festival Director for The Cradle of Creativity, an international festival of theatre for children and young audiences.

Project Manager

Jaqueline Domisse


Nomsa Mbothwe is a qualified Public Relations Officer with background in Marketing, Advertising and Banking. With this diverse background, fitting in the world of Arts was exciting. She joined the Magnet Family in 2017 as the Magnet Trainees Manager, looking at the training programme in a holistic manner.

Trainee Manager

Nomsa Mbothwe



Jayne Batzofin completed her Honours degree at WITS University, majoring in directing and stage & costume design. She completed a further two years of training at l’ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. She has worked with prestigious visual theatre companies: FTH:K and Conspiracy of Clowns. Over the past four years she has specialised in making inclusive theatre for Early Years audiences.

UCT MA Dramaturgy/ Internship

Jayne Batzofin


Lily Odekirk comes to Magnet from the United States, where she recently completed her BA in English Literature and Theatre Studies from Wellesley College. She is an actor, writer, director, and huge reader who particularly finds passion in theatre that elevates and promotes young girls and femme folks. She is thrilled to be a part of the Magnet family as an artistic and administrative intern.

Madeleine K Albright Global Affairs Fellowship/ Internship

Lilly Odekirk


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