A Conversation with Susan Danford, Lesoko Seabe & Claire-Louise Worby: The Women of Clybourne Park- Part 1

There’s a new neighbour in town! Clybourne Park which opened at The Fugard Theatre on August 16th has been making waves in Cape Town. Billed as Bruce Norris’ acclaimed black (and white) comedy, Clybourne Park tells a complex story of race relations in America. What makes the story so unique is that act 1 and 2 take place 50 years apart from one another requiring the same group of actors to portray entirely different characters in the second act.

Sarafina Magazine had the immense privilege of chatting with the female ensemble of the show: Susan Danford, Lesoko Seabe and Claire-Louise Worby. Please note that due to length this conversation has been edited and split into 2 parts. Part 2 will be posted on Thursday.

Lets jump right in, In the first act I noticed that the initial conflict takes place mainly between the two male characters while the female characters are for the most part silent, Claire your character is written as deaf, but in the second act, which jumps 50 years, the women get to be more vocal and hold their own during this heated debate. I wanted your opinion about that and if you think it is an accurate representation of women now vs then?

Susan Danford: I do think that Norris deliberately in the writing strapped the first act as being 1959, so the piece as he says ‘has been written for white audiences to see themselves.’ It feels to me like a very accurate representation of the white male voice being heard and the women being silenced in so many ways and it’s endorsed by some of the characters because Karl says in the first act ‘Bev I didn’t come to talk to you, I came to talk to your husband’ and later on he says ‘Bev is your husband silencing me?’ And I think there’s an echo that Bev gets silenced with Norris deliberately doing that which of course for you to witness is quite a shock. 

Lesoko Seabe : I think for Francine and Lena’s characters the racial evidence of the silencing can’t be ignored either so theres always two things working at all times; the time period and the politics of the time that its set. So just speaking specifically for Francine, she feels a lot like a presence in the house but never really gets a chance to say anything. When she’s asked to speak on behalf of the family that is moving in, she’s not even speaking on behalf of herself necessarily but on behalf of them as a whole, she’s silenced then and then encouraged to ‘tell us what you really think’ but then when she starts to open her mouth to speak ‘no no no no, thats not what we’re asking.’ I think maybe the shift isn’t as dramatic for Lena in the second half because even then she does get a chance to speak and is constantly interrupted to let the other voices shine which is a very clever device for Norris because he builds up some of the tension that arises between the characters.

Claire-Louise Worby: I guess Betsy’s a bit of an obvious representation which is basically not even as an observer, well as an observer but its interesting in trying to discover the world of being deaf. Watching whats happening but no one is including you in what is actually being discussed and I did have that time as well while kind of working with Betsy’s character and looking at Karl and wondering if it was because she was deaf that he wasn’t including her or if she was a hearing woman, if she would have been included either because her character in comparison to his character, in fact Bruce Norris even had said that one of the reasons that he believes Betsy is married to Karl is because she cant hear him. So she doesn’t know how insufferable he is. It’s interesting for her because I do actually believe there’s a part of me that thinks, yes she is deaf and she has to kind of try and follow whats going on by the attitude and the reactions of everybody around her but I also think he would also silence her the way he silences Bev if she was fully hearing. He probably just would have shushed her and she probably would have just been sitting there knitting anyway.

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L-R: Claire-Louise Worby, Susan Danford, Lesoko Seabe. Photo Credit: Jessica Ross

SD: I think what I find interesting about Bev in the first act is that she says ‘I choose to remain powerless.’ That’s her line, however you see Bev constantly holding it all together. Norris has empowered her in that she’s the one that says ”What’s the problem if they could become our neighbours, we could care for them.” She voices what Russ never actually gets to voice even though Russ is the one being consulted and Russ ultimately loses his temper.  Whereas Bev is the one that is trying to negotiate a sense of community even if she’s naive and gets it wrong, she’s trying to fuddle her way through it.

LS: And I think as an actor, and I can’t speak for anyone else, I found this a very big challenge because the text is so challenging. Its so beautifully written and the language is so slick that it could be very easy just to play the surface and just to play the language. We’d just be staging the play, just doing an oral version of the thing but it was the work of trying to get inside of the thought, constantly trying to find out what is the life of this character and playing the truth of that and always fighting for the character’s legitimacy. So whilst the mechanism might be to show how people are silenced, that’s what the audience is experiencing, I’d be doing Francine and Lena a very big disservice if I played the deficit, had to play the power, had to play those strong women so that when they are able to speak, how are they being heard? The same thing with Bev, I feel that she really displays so much intelligence right at the beginning. She’s not a stupid woman. She reads a lot, she’s interested in and constantly being challenged by it but the time’s dictating how she’s able to express that.

SD: It was, and that was a lovely thought about how to take ownership of your characters. You are the guardian of these voices. I think it was also very clear to me from the get go that even though Bev was being silenced, she was not stupid. She was not, and I don’t mean stupid in a joke, thats not the right word but she’s not disinterested. She had opinions and she had a sense of even though she was very clumsy in how she deals with Betsy’s deafness, there was a sense of camaraderie. We seemed to discover that. I think that’s the interesting thing about the play is that as actors, to allow the script to come to life you really need each other. You need to hear each other and its interesting because the first and second half echo each other and it’s like what has changed? Are we really not listening to each other? But the craft of actually pulling this off required us all to listen to each other.

CLW: Absolutely.

SD: For Bev not to hear Francine, as Susan I always heard you, its like I’m very aware that Lesoko is standing behind me and I constantly want to engage with her so it just felt like the oddest thing to not respond. A long answer to a short question!

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Left to right: Susan Danford and Lesoko Seabe in Clybourne Park. Photo credit Jesse Kate Kramer

You all get to portray two different characters. Which one, if any, was sort of easier to understand first? Or did more of a challenge getting to know as an actor more than the other?

CLW: I found both slightly difficult. It’s a long process, character, from your first connection with them, what you automatically respond to and understand and then theres the growth of really getting to know who they are, who this person is and finding their reasons for what they are saying and who taught them that way and all of these things. But for me Betsy was difficult because of the disability, really knowing how to try and navigate around the world where you don’t hear anybody and unless people are directly speaking to you and wanting you to be brought in and understood, you are an observer. That was difficult for me because you hear things, you hear things constantly, its kind of what you (Susan) were saying about having Francine right behind you and wanting to… and things happen and I found it difficult even when someone was speaking not to look at them automatically and that was really difficult for me to start looking at body language and really navigating that world. It constantly grew just little bit by little bit to try to navigate how you actually sit and observe something while you are hearing it but having to observe it as if you cannot understand a single word and also how that changed by what was going on in the room for you, even now, every night its different. Every night I see a completely different story unraveling before me and it’s never a racist one, it’s never a sexist one, it’s just these people who are feeling emotions and trying to figure out what emotion they are feeling and who its towards and what is going on. So that was interesting and I found that difficult because as a hearing person I understand. I don’t know how to really have to watch someone and also to feel that constant just being pushed on to the peripheral.I actually found Lindsey more difficult to connect with because I had such an opinion about this woman when I first read her. As an actress, you see this and you read this character and you go ‘she’s a piece of work.’ She’s probably the most racist person in the room. Well her husband kinda actually exerts it, but she’s such a stereotype for me. When I first read her, she was a stereotype. Ignorant, white woman of money, quite focused on her own story, her own wealth and benefit and understanding so much theoretically and educated but really not being able to see the trees from the forest. So for her I really had to find her truth, which also brought up a lot of sadness for me because there’s a lot of people who think this way and there’s a lot of people that are so incredibly ignorant of how they’re presenting themselves and how insensitive they are in the environment that they are faced in and really finding that truth of where that’s coming from and digging in and finding out who she was and why she was was so ignorant and why she was so self-righteous was very hard to identify and once I did, it was quite sad for me because its real and there are a lot of people in the world who are navigating around that and we all are. We are all doing the best we can but when you read someone who I did find very offensive when I first read her as an actress, you can’t do that. You have to get to a place where its truth and finding that truth, yeah it was a little heartbreaking at times to really try and find that…but also a lot of fun because she is a lot of fun to play in that almost childlike ‘What? What? What’s going on I don’t understand’ is almost like you get to revert back to being a teenager. Going back to being just like 16 in a way and ‘Did I say that? Did you say that? No I can change my mind at the drop of a hat. Now that I’m in this environment I can be this person because I can do that.’ Its just really interesting dynamics around her character that I found difficult and heartbreaking and fun.

LS: About a week before we were about to open to an audience I basically had like a breakdown during a rehearsal and I was just frustrated with the process that I just described to you, especially the importance of trying to find out who these people were and it was difficult because I felt like the text wasn’t giving it to me and I think trying to give this woman life and make sure that she’s not a stereotype which I know all of us were working very hard not to do that. These had to be 3D living, breathing people in order for the audience to connect to the issues that are being discussed here. So both characters were incredibly difficult and I think with just last year I played in a show called Siembaba which is all about the relationship between a domestic worker and the family that she works with and so trying to find how do you play ‘you are part of a family but you’re not.’ To find a dignity because you are still a mother of 3 children, you have hobbies, you have friends, probably a really great sex life. You have all of these things. You are a full person and not having the text to offer that information to the audience so how do you move through the space when you aren’t give the chance to speak? How do you transfer those kinds of things? The humanity of the character. Both were incredibly difficult. Incredibly different. Also I think the thing that I’ve learned to be quite a bit of a challenge is that the play is in two completely different styles. Just as an acting exercise its completely wild because sometimes it felt, and sometimes we joke about it in the dressing room, it felt as if we were doing two completely different plays every night. The first one and now lets go run the second one. 

SD: The more we run them side by side they become integral obviously…

LS: Absolutely.

SD: …But we had to rehearse them separately so at first it was like ‘oh now we have to go do the other play now.’

And for you Susan? 

SD: I think the natural segway from Lesoko’s Francine you know particularly for me for Bev to play this 1959 woman who in the hierarchy of domestic staff and in that I really felt that also I didn’t have the words for it but I felt like Bev and Francine had a lovely friendship. I had a lovely feeling that the closest person that Bev would be to is Francine and yet there wasn’t expression for it, there wasn’t a place for it and because its so accurate to 1959 it made it really sad for me because actually this was the person who knew ‘my son’ and so when she says ‘Do you remember we’ve shared the most …’ and then she makes a lighthearted comment about the squirrel coming through the window but it’s actually because Bev can’t say it in the so called neighbourhood social but it’s actually about two mothers but the horror that Bev can’t quite remember if she (Francine) has 2 or 3 children. I mean to wrap my head around that its crazy but the sad thing is that its true and its present. Its not to say ‘oh that was then.’ That is now. As an actor we have to play flawed characters. I think it’s so current now. All of this is so current that it hurts to play it as funny as it is. We’ve got the safety of each other’s genuine friendship that you feel that you have to do it with trust. Gosh it’s really hard. And Cathy for me is just so un-mysterious and she’s just so like ‘I worked my ass off getting myself through law school so therefore I have a right to the world and therefore I don’t have to think too deep and too far. I am a lawyer but I’m a right-jack.’ If there was more to Cathy I’d like to go investigate it but sadly I think she’s just, she’s got the gift of the gab and doesn’t always know it. She sits on the fence. I mean the positive side to her is that she can be incredibly social. She’s a lawyer but she’s not a human rights lawyer. She’s certainly going to take the side of whoever is paying her bills and I think she does it well. She is smart but she’s not deeply routed in any one thing. Clybounre3.jpg

LS: Not to speak on behalf of Ms. Danford but one of the most beliefs I’m going to take away from this process, just as an actor, is that Susan was the only one who was in every single scene. It is a long play. It is a wordy play and she has the most number of lines by far to remember. Never complained. Was always on top of her game. 

SD: Thats so sweet. 

LS: No but it’s incredible because you as a young actor, watching older actors work and seeing them in performance is an incredible thing but then having the incredible privilege of being in the room with highly experienced and really kind and incredibly generous actors and really watching how they come into the room, what they are doing when they are in the room, how they are interacting with each other. Watching Andrew Buckland and Susan Danford work together was just like alchemy. There’s so much work that’s going in there. It was a really terrific thing, so talking about the kinds of challenges we’re dealing with the same kinds of challenges all of us on stage because we’re dealing with these two different acts, two different styles but the person who I think had an added mammoth task was Susan Danford and she deserves an award for it. Truly! Truly!

SD: Thats so sweet of you. It has been, I have to say, The volume of work has been enormous. When I was mapping the lines for Bev because at first it was like ‘oh my gosh there’s someone else in the room.’ Bev is handling it all cause Russ is sitting there. What helped me map the piece was Francine’s journey and Francine didn’t have words but I would go ‘Oh she’s packing’ now I’m talking about trips and capitals around the world and there’s Francine packing and cleaning and packing. So mapping the choreography of my dialogue was Francine’s physicality. So that added shape to Bev all the time, Francine’s entered, Francine’s exited. But thank you. But it, I think for the women and the men certainly the script is written as an orchestra piece. It’s an ensemble of note, men and women. If you don’t come in and you haven’t stayed in the pace of the room, if you haven’t stayed with the story telling, it’s like you are jumping on the treadmill at the wrong speed and you will send everybody flying against the wall. We do a full warmup everyday before the show there downstairs about an hour before the show. We need each other. 

LS: We need it. 

SD: We need each other physically, mentally and emotionally.

LS: Absolutely!

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Left to Right: Susan Danford and Claire-Louise Worby. Photo credit Jesse Kate Kramer

This is so great to hear because this is everything I want this publication to be about, is women supporting other women and so to hear this after seeing the show is like oh my god they all love each other and its just like you know…stereotype. 

SD: Ya what you see is not always who we are. 

LS: That’s true.

SD:  It’s not, I mean…again with the trust, I’ve never ended a rehearsal, and then I’m repeating myself here too, but I’ve never had a rehearsal have to end because we were laughing so much. The director didn’t do anything but we ended up laughing because he said ‘let’s just run the sequence’ but what we were saying to each other, you’re characters, is just so shocking that eventually it was ‘am I really saying this to another person with a smile on my face? Yes!’ So we kept having to repeat it and perfect it, do you know what I mean?

CLW: And there were a couple of those lines were everybody knew and we were working as an ensemble, you want to talk about ensemble work, and it would be one of those times, like your line about the pink ribbon… 

LS: Jeepers.

CLW: …As a company could not get over that line because it would start to come up and it would be the line before and the room would just go into a big inbreath…

SD: Here comes that awful line ‘I have the pink one for breast cancer.’

CLW: and nobody could take it for a long time. 

LS: A long time.

SD: It really flips PC. What are you really allowed to laugh at, not allowed to laugh at? You are laughing cause you are shocked. So some rehearsals we were all just shellshocked that we were sending these dangers out and Cathy’s lines are just like ‘where are you from?’

CLW: Yeah. ‘Who are you?’

SD: You know and also she encourages, ok she claims not to know it’s a racist joke coming up but how stupid can she be? And experiencing the audience is interesting. I want to protect them. I’m not saying ‘be careful, you don’t know what’s coming.’ 

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Having a laugh. Photo Credit: Jessica Ross

I think that as an audience member sitting in there being surrounded by other people you can kind of tell ‘ok this guy probably needs to get a little bit more educated about whats going on.’ And then there were some people who would kind of gasp when the racial jokes get traded and people were crying with laughter but yet ‘I shouldn’t be laughing.’ As an audience member you are going on that journey as well and that’s because you guys are obviously doing such a great job. 

SD: It feels like just because of who we are as a company it feels like a poker face show. It’s like we’ve put these masks on and you know you want this opportunity, this is the internal landscape that we are dealing with as actors actually and its not easy. It’s funny and it’s provocative and it’s funny because it’s provocative and as a headline was ‘Laughing away the rage.’ But maybe we need it. What do you think?

Well that sort of ties into my next question actually which was that this is an American play and now it’s being performed in South Africa and obviously we all know our history and yet it’s been able to almost seamlessly transcend from being just an America play to being something that so many people are understanding and you can identify so many people here even though you are watching ‘Americans.’ I guess my question is why do you think it’s able to flow so effortlessly between any country?

LS: I have so many opinions about this.

Yeah! Please share them. 

LS: I was interested in the choice for us to play in an American accent and I wasn’t sure about it just as an actor. I had confidence that the producers and Greg (Karvellas) had the decision to keep it in the American accent, I was like ‘we are in South Africa. We are in District 6. The themes are so relevant why are we not just playing in our accents so people are just going to have to suspend their disbelief and we know it’s in Chicago and whatever. Everyone speaks the same way.’ Just to root it in that kind of way but I think that even though we are 22 years into democracy, South African’s still have no way of finding the language to talk about the things that we need to focus on. We seem to live in the rainbow nation but we still have so many problems and the last 18 months, you just have to look at the news one day and see that that’s so true. From the Penny Sparrows of this world to those guys in KZN with the guesthouse to what’s been happening in the last few days with the hair policies in South Africa and listening to the radio and listening to people call in and you go ‘are you serious? Are we seriously having a heated debate for 4 days about how a girl’s hair supposed to come out of her hair naturally and how that contravenes some kind of like new policy.’ So what I think the play does very cleverly is that it allows audiences to engage with the content because it feels like it’s unrelated to today because it’s in the American accent. It feels like ‘oh this thing is happening, it happened in 1959 in that place, far away. Ha ha. Look at those people how ridiculous they are.’ Go away for a little drink, come back for the second act and suddenly the language and the act is a little bit more familiar and the characters are a little bit more familiar and you’ve already gone on a journey with them but suddenly it’s a little bit closer to the bone and you can’t escape the truth that these are your truths as much as those people’s truths. So some many argue that the politics feel old and playing an American play on South African soil doesn’t feel like a very honest choice but I feel that it’s a very very smart move and the shear volume of people who are coming to flock this theater, people are needing to have the conversation and don’t have the language in which to have it. This is allowing at least a dialogue to occur and then hearing the responses of them, whatever they are, it’s starting very necessary conversations that we need as South Africans. It’s so urgent. 

SD: I certainly think that comedy allows an entry point. It’s a really fresh way of addressing really very deep deep issues in this country that to be able to find a different brush stroke, and allows you to enter the conversation from a different angle, has given it its currency here in District 6. 

CLW: Yeah I think the same as what Lesoko says about it being both the comedy and the ‘being an American play.’ You know, because there is that danger too of getting too on the nose with people and saying ‘look at yourself!’ There’s a danger in making it too relevant that you make people go ‘I don’t want to watch this!’

SD: It becomes too confrontational. 

CLW: Exactly. It becomes too much of ‘we are trying to make a point.’ And like you said Lesoko ‘I can’t believe I laughed at this’ and that, kinda, let them do it on their own but that’s the really beautiful thing of how Clybourne Park, written in 2009, Obama was just made president, it was this incredible time in American history in that regard of race and America today. I was actually having a conversation with somebody just the other night of how incredible it would be to see the reaction of it now. Now that a lot of that racial tension is kicking into gear, high gear, in the States at the moment in the media and it’s not that it has changed because it’s always been that way but there’s a huge spotlight on it at the moment and more people are becoming aware and its becoming a much more broader publicised issue than it has been in the past, say 10 years. So it would be really interesting to see how funny people found this in America now or whether they would be condemning Bruce Norris for any of the racial jokes or anything, or how that sensitivity would work so I think in that way it’s one of those plays that I think it’s in a beautiful place here, right now because it is a little bit removed that it is American and it is different times but it’s just so poignantly true with what is going on in the culture here in Cape Town specifically but South African’s in general. 

SD: I think we are having a closer look into the play as South Africans because it is so fresh for us. So when it was presented in the states, I mean as you say going backwards a bit, but at that time felt like it was like trying to bring something into focus whereas here the currency of it is so present. 

CLW: It’s almost just like it’s a beautiful reminder because I think most people who come and see this play will know on some level of where they stand, but I don’t think, like Lindsey, I don’t think they really understand until they see themselves or hear themselves in a way that is removed from them. I would hope that people see and hear Lindsey and what she’s saying and don’t hear her words as she is trying to say them but rather how she is actually coming across and what her role in the community and her actions are showing up on everybody else about how everybody else is affected because I think a lot of people could say ‘I know what gentrification is, I know that we have racial issues here’ and they can kind of whitewash the whole thing. But once you start seeing people and hearing them and having that real…gosh I think I might have actually said something along those lines, have I? Yeah. I understand every word that woman is saying and that sounds right but you look at her and you look at how she’s effecting everyone else…

SD: That’s very true.

CLW: And its done in such a way that’s not ‘this is you!’

SD: Cause it’s done with a tight green dress and a belly! 

CLW: Yeah!

(laughs)

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But that is interesting that you bring up that it was done in America in 2009 and today it might have had a completely different reaction. 

CLW: Yeah and I think it would. 

SD: I think that’s what makes it an award winning script that it doesn’t matter where you are going to do it, the themes are human nature and it’s going to have a currency wherever. If you are playing it right its gonna have a currency, you can do it in Japan. You know what I mean? I’m just saying that as a random, I don’t know but I’m just saying that the currency of how people treat each other and talk over each other and there’s the inability to listen. That for me especially after having to learn all those lines, you just realize everyone is just going ‘blah blah blah.’ There’s just so much noise. Can you just sit and listen?

CLW: They are just shushing each other. Constantly.

SD: Can we not just hear each other? 

So my last question about the show is what do you hope audiences take away from it?

SD: A good night out! A thought-provoking good night out. Well they certainly have been removed, people have. I mean I get deep joy and I hear no matter whether people are offended, upset, engaged, want to disconnect, all those things but nobody can deny and that’s because of the ensemble and Greg’s vision as the director and The Fugard’s producing and the design and everything, nobody can say its not well done. I mean I think we can all feel really good about that. It’s good theatre. It feels so good to be a part of something you can be proud of. 

LS: Absolutely. It’s world class work. What was one interesting view you (Susan) shared was a story, I think it was in a preview, a lady stopped you and inquired whether we were the Royal Court Company from London? And I think that’s still the misconception that South Africans have is that if the work is really good it needs to have come and been produced from somewhere else. 

CLW: Yeah. 

LS: We have fantastic directors. Really fantastic directors, really fantastic playwrights, brilliant actors, set designers. I mean Birrie Le Roux’ designed a costume design, the detail and the craft work, our stage management who are the people that you don’t see, Kieran McGregor’s lighting, just in terms of seeing really great world class theatre you are definitely going to get that. And I hope people are moved, whatever that means for them. That they come away with something, that something has shifted in them at the end of the evening and I think everybody has been. 

I definitely think that I, personally, am guilty of being one of those people who think that because it’s being done here it might not be as good. I’ve just spent the past 6 years living in New York so I got to see quite a lot but after seeing this show it got me excited about South African theatre again. 

SD: Thank you. Thank you. 

It did. It really did. And I saw The Painted Rocks (Of Revolver Creek– the other show currently playing at The Fugard) actually in New York last year and to hear after seeing this, that it was being done here, made me so much more excited because there was one actor in the New York production who was South African but to know that people here are going to get a chance to see work like that by South Africans is truly incredible. 

SD: Its going to resonant on a cellular level. Thank you for that. It really, you know you feel like across the board people are on the music, on the sound, the design, I don’t think you could really fault anybodies talent because of how it all came together as an ensemble at every level. Don’t you think?

CLW: It was almost too easy in regards to I never had to fight for anything. It was so well organized. It was just all so professionally done. It just felt like you could just do your work. All of the fellow actors were there to support you doing your work and everybody really felt like they were throwing themselves one hundered percent into this to make this the best it could be. So many times you feel like there is some resistance and people are only giving a certain amount and it just felt like everyone just went ‘woosh’ and just really created this ensemble together, the whole team. I said to Birrie (Le Roux) when I put on my Lindsey outfit I said to her  ‘thats it!’ All I have to do is put on that denim, put on that dress and my jewelry that she’s given me and the amount of detail that she’s given that character literally I put that on and I just felt it go ‘voom.’ Its like all of my work, I don’t have to get in my head there to get to her, I put on my costume and I’m there with her. It’s work like that. The amount of thought and detail research. 


Part 2 of our chat with Susan, Lesoko and Claire-Louise, where they answer questions about their careers and the people who have inspired them, will be posted on Thursday at 9am. Make sure to ‘follow’ to be notified of new posts.

Clybourne Park will run at The Fugard Theatre, from 16 August until 1 October 2016 Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm. Please note: Strong Language, recommend 14 years and older.Tickets, ranging from R120 to R240 are now available and can be booked through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. Bookings can also be made at the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554. There is a generous 15% discount available for the Friends of The Fugard members.

Many thanks to Jessica Ross, Christine Skinner, Lamees Albertus and everyone at The Fugard.

Production Photos courtesy of The Fugard.
Other Photo Credit: Jessica Ross.

BIOS

SUSAN DANFORD 
In August, Susan Danford returns to The Fugard Theatre for Clybourne Park directed by Greg Karvellas.  The last time Susan appeared on stage at The Fugard was in Arthur Miller’s, Broken Glass , for which she received a Fleur du Cap nomination for Best Actress, (directed by Janice Honeyman, opposite Sir Anthony Sher. ) Susan’s multi -award South African & international career in film, television & on stage spans close on three decades. She has just completed filming on Mandela, a 5 part BET series, directed by Emmy award winning director, Kevin Hooks. (Prison Break), playing opposite Michael Nyqvist. (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo & As it is in Heaven).   It’s the second time she has worked with the Emmy award winning Hollywood Director, Kevin Hooks. The first time was in Toronto, Canada, The Colour of Friendship. Susan has built up a strong body of international film and television credits including; Invictus directed by Clint Eastwood, (Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon) Catch a Fire dir Philip Noyce, with Tim Robbins.Very early in her career she played Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham daughter in the comedy The Adventures of Laurel and Hardy. In 2015 she played in the German series, Cape Town, directed by Peter Ladkani as well as Lady Canarvon to Sam Neill’s, Lord Canarvon’s  inTutan-khamun’, a 4 part series  soon to be aired on ITV. Susan recently returned from Bogota, Columbia, after being invited to perform at the Iboamericana Theatre Festival with John Kani and the cast of Missing. She plays the female lead, Swedish character, Anna Ohlson, opposite Kani’s,  Robert Khalipa. Missing has been touring for over 2 years.Notably for stage, she won the Fleur Du Cap, Best Actress Award for her portrayal of Emma, in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal,directed by Lara Foot. Her recent work has garnered Fleur du Cap Best Actress nominations for Broken Glass (Fugard Theatre opposite Anthony Sher), I,Claudia ( one-woman show), & two Naledi Nomination’s, one for Best Actress for Missing and the other wearing her producing hat with Stephen Jennings & Graham Hopkins,  Best Production Nomination and Best Supporting Actress winner ( Vanessa Cooke)  for Vigil. On South African screens , Susan has played leads and featured roles in over 12 television series, in both English and Afrikaans. For Mnet, League of Glory,  Grace Foster in Known Gods. Other highlighted S.A. TV credits include; Land of Thirst, Meester, Onder Draai die Duiwel Rond, Annette in 7de Laan, Binnelanders, Die Laksman, Kelebone .Susan is a Director of NPO,  KaMatla. Susan lives in Cape Town with her actor husband, Stephen Jennings and their 12 year old son. Susan Danford is represented by Moonyeen Lee & Associates and Artists Personal Management.

LESOKO SEABE
Lesoko V Seabe graduated from the University of Cape Town with a degree in Theatre and Performance in 2008. She later returned to the university to read for an MA in Performance (distinction in the thesis). Whilst Lesoko is most well known as a sought after Voice Artist for radio and television, she works in a variety of performance-related fields as a lecturer, acting coach, actor and academic. As an actress Lesoko has performed across South Africa, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and The United Kingdom.  Her recent stage credits include Siembamba (Phil Radermeyer and Penelope Youngleson) which was nominated for a Best New South African script at the 2016 Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards and won the Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award in the previous year. Lesoko is based in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

CLAIRE LOUISE WORBY 
Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Claire-Louise Worby studied theatre in London, graduating from the Italia Conti Academy of Dramatic Arts.  She kicked off her career in Los Angeles, performing in sketch comedy shows and taking on roles in indie films (Cereal, Lossed) and TV (Real Cowboys: Wyatt Earp). In Cape Town theatre, Claire-Louise has worked with Canned Rice Productions as the director of Vacancy and recently appeared in Court. Other Theatre Performances in the US and UK are: Arsenic and Old Lace, Desdemona in Othello, Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Poppy.

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “A Conversation with Susan Danford, Lesoko Seabe & Claire-Louise Worby: The Women of Clybourne Park- Part 1

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