Denise Newman tells the story of her history

Renowned actress and Athlone resident, Denise Newman, speaks about her role in the upcoming theatre production, What Remains.

Renowned actress and Athlone resident, Denise Newman, is excited about her role in the upcoming theatre production, What Remains, as she feels strongly that “we must tell the stories of our history”.

What Remains is the new play from award-winning writer Nadia Davids.

It is about the unexpected uncovering of a mass slave burial ground in Cape Town by property developers excavating the land to build a mall on the site.

“I feel honoured to have been asked to be part of this,” said Newman.

“The play is basically about big capital versus sentiment, and it is part of our history. Not all of our history is documented – only selected bits.

“I must add though, that this is contemporary. It is not a history lesson. Parents and their older children (as it has an age restriction for no under 10s) must come to the theatre for productions like this.

“We love the musicals and the comedies, but we get far too restless when it is stories like this.

“Young people should come to the theatre. You get transported into another world. We are so technologically-driven, and we must switch off our electronic devices, like our tablets, for a while. We don’t look people in the eye anymore. Come and look and feel what people felt like,” Ms Newman said.

Not only does she appreciate being part of telling this story – what makes her heart leap for joy is that it is being done through theatre.

“Theatre has always been my first love – the other one (television and film) pays my bills.

“The latter gives me the financial freedom to do the other. Theatre has always been underfunded. In theatre there are no second takes.

“You only have that one chance to do it, and to know whether you are taking your audience on this journey with you, or at least engage with them. An audience is very honest.”

What Remains is directed and choreographed by Jay Pather. Faniswa Yisa, Shaun Oelf and Buhle Ngaba star alongside Ms Newman.

Speaking about her role, Ms Newman said: “I’m The Healer. The prophetess who senses the spirits lurking around, and not given a chance to rest. She’s not an oracle-type of character though. She is humble and ordinary,” Ms Newman said.