My goodness, it’s been a long time since I updated things around here. So much so I had to dust off the cobwebs, pull up a chair, and speak to you directly!
In two years, so much has happened – some experiences I’ve written about, some experiences I will write about, and some experiences will be just that, experiences. And right now, we are all in the middle of a global pandemic, and our freedom of movement has been restricted, so some of us (if we aren’t the key workers keeping the rest of us alive and keeping the country going) have more time on our hands than we are used to.
After finding a way to adjust to this totally abnormal situation (as best as you can, anyway), I got my creative mojo back and I’ve made a radio play! Last year, I was an artist-in-residence at the Birmingham Rep Theatre. My debut play, ‘Layila!’, took to the stage in June and November 2019. My plan for this year was to bring the play to London… but it was not to be!
Theatres are now shut for the foreseeable future, so I had to accept staging this play again is one for the now distant future. That said, if the people can’t get to the theatre, we must bring the theatre to the people! And with that energy, I assembled an amazing team of creatives to put together an audio version of my play to make Sierra Leone’s 59th Independence Day.
I promise you I will be updating my website regularly again – in fact, this website will be re-designed/ spruced up really soon, so changes are coming. Thanks to all who remain interested in and encouraging of all my work. Rest assured, even if you’re not hearing from me, I’m beavering away in the background.
Enjoy listening to this one – we’re really proud of it. Trust me, making theatre whilst in quarantine is a real creative and logistical challenge but we did it! Listen, share, and let me know if you’re loving it on social media – @Sianaarrgh everywhere (I’m most active on Instagram these days):
‘Layila!’, by Siana Bangura is the story of Aminata, a 15-year-old Sierra Leonean-British kid living in South London with her family.
Following the sudden death of her grandmother, the family’s world is shaken.
One night, grandma comes back from the afterlife with a final request for Aminata and so begins a coming-of-age adventure, exploring the delights of Freetown and uncovering personal – and political – histories.
‘Layila!’, by Siana Bangura was first performed on stage at the Birmingham Rep Theatre in June 2019 and November 2019.
The audio edition of this play has been written and directed by Siana Bangura.
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The cast of ‘Layila!’ – audio edition are as follows:
Ophelia Gayle as ‘Aminata’ and ‘Zainab’
Anni Domingo as ‘Grandma’, ‘Fatmata’, and ‘mum’
Abu Yillah as the ‘Taxi Driver’
Princess During as ‘Cousin Aggie’
Produced by Juliette Nicholls of Pineapple Audio Production
Additional voiceover contributions from Kadiatu Bangura, Maya Bangura and Sam Bangura
Cover art by Letty Wilson
Siana Bangura – Writer and Director
Siana Bangura is a writer, producer, performer, theatremaker and community organiser hailing from South East London, now living, working, and creating between London and the West Midlands.
Siana is the founder and former editor of Black British Feminist platform, No Fly on the WALL; she is the author of poetry collection, ‘Elephant’; and the producer of ‘1500 & Counting’, a documentary film investigating deaths in custody and police brutality in the UK. Siana works and campaigns on issues of race, class, and gender and their intersections and is currently working on projects focusing on climate change, the arms trade, and state violence.
Siana was an artist in residence at the Birmingham Rep Theatre throughout 2019, working on her debut play, ‘Layila!’
She is also a workshop facilitator, public speaking trainer, and social commentator. Her work has been featured in mainstream and alternative publications such as The Guardian, The Metro, Evening Standard, Black Ballad, Consented, Green European Journal, The Fader, and Dazed. Her past television appearances include the BBC, Channel 4, Sky TV and ITV and Jamelia’s ‘The Table’.
Siana is also co-founder of the Sierra Leone Arts & Culture festival.
Across her vast portfolio of work, Siana’s mission is to help move marginalised voices from the margins, to the centre.
Anni Domingo was born in London but grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone. She has worked extensively in the UK and abroad in Theatre, Radio, TV and films as an actress and a lecturer. Anni teaches English, Drama and Creative Writing in schools and colleges around the UK and works regularly as director. She also runs her company ‘Shakespeare Link,’taking Shakespeare workshops to schools and colleges. Anni is a writer and some of her plays have been performed and several of her workbooks on Shakespeare are now used in many schools. Her poem ‘Empty Cradle’ is published in the anthology Secret and Silent Tears and her short story ‘Empire Girl’ has been published in Words and Women Anthology One. She has just finished writing her first novel, ‘Breaking The Maafa Chain’.
Ophelia Gayle is a British actress who began acting professionally at the age of 17. She has completed over 4 years of training at various part-time drama schools including; American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Middle-week Newton Academy. She has established herself as a versatile actress performing not only in theatre but also in TV and film.