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Seane making waves in theatre as she branches into directing

Actress reimagines The Suite through a feminist lens

The director of The Suit Concer-tized, Warona Seane
The director of The Suit Concer-tized, Warona Seane
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Actress Warona Seane is one of the female directors making waves in the theatre field.

Seane, whose acting credits include For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, The Alchemist’s Heart, Nothing But The Truth and Nongogo, is directing The Suit Concertised, which will open at Joburg Theatre on September 15. 

The play is adapted from a short story by Can Temba called The Suit.

First published in the inaugural issue of The Classic, a literary journal founded by Nat Nakasa and Nadine Gordimer, it was immediately banned by the apartheid regime. 

As the play returns to celebrate 60 years, Seane works with a cast that includes Vusi Kunene, Khutjo Green, Job Kubatsi, Brian Temba and Alistair Dube.

The Suit Concer-tized features movement, music which comes in the form of orchestra and acting. Seane explains that by reimagining this iconic story through a feminist lens, the aim is to amplify the voice of women in the story.

“We hope this will help curb the silencing of the female voice in society, which often leads to increased abuse against them, whether by their intimate partners, as was the case in this particular story, or in other spheres of women’s lives,” said Seane. 

“Those who have seen The Suit original, should look forward to an amazing performance on how the story has been interpreted. People who enjoy the music will be treated to it.  It is a beautiful take on it. We have a different ending that the original.

“The focus of the story in the musical adaptation is on Matilda, a violinist and leader of a symphonic orchestra in Johannesburg in the 1950s, which breaks from previous approaches that portrayed Matilda as a victim.” 

Seane, who is also a lecturer at the University of Cape Town, says everything has come together  and the cast is ready. 

“It has been interesting, the three branches – performances, movement and music. Movement sequences, it has been quite interesting and challenging. We got a really good team. I am working with Khaya Ndlovu, movement architect. 

“It is musical director in the rehearsal room, we know how the concept sounds like, and we can create moments for the music to take over as opposed to the show. Swap in the show. We’re trying to make it balance; you need an equal dose of both narratives. After all, it is The Suit but it is concertised, it is narration within a concert.” 

On working with an experienced cast, Seane says: “They are amazing performers, they bring energy, person. Their generosity to the stage and playful and quite inquisitive about the character. But we are having a good time.” 

Seane, who has tackled theatre, film and TV equally, has been focusing on her studies in the past few years.

In 2018, she decided to do a master’s degree in dramaturgy.

Focusing on her studies has made her scarce, and the last time she acted on television was when she appeared in Zabalaza.

Seane’s directing credits include Sacred Thorn, Yes Medem, Nelisiwe Xaba’s solos Fragments of an Orgy, Mute Echoes and Romeo and Juliet.

The play is staged in conjunction with Sowetan.

bambalelep@sowetan.co.za

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