The inspiration for my fifth play: A President in Waiting … came from watching Yael Farber and Thembi Mtshali’s A Woman in Waiting at the Baxter Theatre last crisp September. The latter is a play which should be compulsory viewing for school learners and adults alike, not least because after the show two members of the audience engaged me in animated conversation in the Ladies about the subject matter. I was gone so long that my husband almost sent out a search party. Farber and Mtshali’s one woman play re-visits the landscape of a Zulu woman’s childhood and her growing up in South Africa during apartheid. I wondered if I could write a sequel. If a young Xhosa woman could ask Madiba one question, what would that be?

I have to admit, I was looking for a vehicle for an exciting young actress who was an intern at the Desmond Tutu HIV Youth Centre Foundation in Masiphumelele, Fish Hoek. We both felt our bus had arrived. So, being a swallow, on my return to the UK, emails flew back and forth between Khuls Nkatshu and me with a script beginning to emerge. During your last, long, hot SA summer and our miserable, UK wet winter something of great momentum, happened politically in your beautiful country. If you come and see A President in Waiting … this November then you will see and hear how the events which unfolded during your last summer had an impact on the one woman play I was writing.

I started a couple of rehearsals with Khuls on my trip here last autumn but it became clear that in my swallow’s absence a director would be needed. As if transported By Magic Wand, Amy Leigh Vermaak who runs the ALAS Academy in Fish Hoek appeared with a request that I ‘surrender’ the script: something all scriptwriters should ultimately do.

With the help of Earl Mentor, Sport and Recreation Coordinator in a producing role at the Desmond Tutu Centre and gently guided by Dante Robbertze, Youth Centre Manager A President in Waiting … awaits performance and an audience. Please come and watch the next generation of black African women take the baton and the platform.

A President in Waiting … Performances: Friday 14th November at 3.00pm and 5.00pm. FREE ENTRY

Guinea Fowl Rd, Sunnydale,

Cape Town, 7975, South Africa

Tel: +27 21 785 4570

Cell: +27 82 740 4400

A President in Waiting …has been written as part of Jan Moran Neil’s Masters’ course in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge.


A President in Waiting - a play by Jan Moran Neil