Shannon Esra is thrilled to reprise her ‘My Left Breast’ role after almost two and a half decades

Renowned actress Shannon Esra will star in the one-woman play, ‘My Left Breast.’ Picture: Supplied.

Renowned actress Shannon Esra will star in the one-woman play, ‘My Left Breast.’ Picture: Supplied.

Published May 7, 2024


After starring in the internationally-acclaimed one-woman play, “My Left Breast” almost two and a half decades ago, award-winning actress Shannon Esra is thrilled to be reprising the role.

The production, which was written by Obie Award-winning author Susan Miller and explores the universal themes of loss, love and rejection, is set to make its South African debut this week.

Esra, renowned for her leading performances in movies and TV shows like “Lioness”, “Still Breathing” and “Do your Worst!”, is now set to take centre stage in this theatre show.

She told Independent Media Lifestyle that she decided to take up this role again after first starring in “My Left Breast” during her first year at university, back in 2000.

She explained that late last year, she was contacted by Janet Baylis, her high school drama teacher and mentor about taking the role in this one-woman show, which is simply staged with just two chairs.

“To be given the opportunity to revisit the full text in its entirety and to work with my mentor was a dream I never knew I had, but one I knew I needed. It was a no-brainer.”

Renowned actress Shannon Esra will star in the one-woman play, ‘My Left Breast.’ File picture.

And while it goes without saying that the seasoned actress has significantly grown into her craft since she first starred in this production as a teenager, she is now relishing the opportunity to reprise the role.

“From a very pragmatic standpoint, I was only 18-years-old, what did I know about life?”

“So much has changed and I have, over the past 24 years, become intimately more experienced in the realms of loss and grief and heartache and disappointment.”

“I feel far more capable as a woman, no longer a girl, to stand in Susan’s shoes and to speak her words with truth, care, love and authenticity.”

Esra also admitted that being in a one-woman theatre show is both “terrifying and exhilarating.”

“Having spent the majority of my 27-year career in television and film, I am accustomed to being on set for long, intensive periods.”

“But theatre is live, immediate and all-encompassing. There you are, up on stage, on your own and it truly is one of the most exposed, raw and vulnerable spaces to exist in.”

“I have nowhere to hide. If I make a mistake, only I can correct it and pray no one notices.”

“In this particular production, there is a palpable immediacy and intimacy. On top of that, the adrenaline, the high, the connection... it’s potent and almost indescribable.”

She also believes that the audience will be able to resonate with “My Left Breast” because it is “so honest and so raw.”

“Susan Miller pulls no punches. It’s her truth, in that time and space and she wears her heart on her sleeve without being self-pitying.”

“It is an account of love, motherhood, womanhood, heartbreak, grief, healing and transformation and it's achingly heartfelt and funny.”

The play’s subject matter suggests an age restriction of 16.

Where: The Theatre On The Square, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton

When: May 7-11.

Cost: Tickets start from R200 and are available through Computicket.

Here are some other theatre shows to enjoy in Johannesburg this week:

“My Children! My Africa!”

This stark and moving production, which was written by renowned South African author, Athol Fugard, delves into the deep scars and lasting damage caused by Bantu education.

Set in the tumultuous 1980s at the height of apartheid, it centres around the complex lives of three South Africans - Thami Mbikwana, Isabel Dyson and a school teacher known as Mr. M.

“The narrative vividly portrays the educational crisis faced by black people in that era, set against a backdrop of persistent student boycotts and the formation of the National Education Crisis Committee by concerned parents in response to the devastating 1976 massacre,” producers explained.

They added that “My Children! My Africa!” is not just a play, but an “educational experience designed to provoke thought and stimulate discussion.”

“Particularly tailored for matric students, it seeks to shed light on the power of education and the struggles faced by their predecessors in securing it.

Where: The Roodepoort Theatre in Florida Park.

When: Currently on until May 10.

Cost: R70 and block bookings are R60 from Webtickets.

‘The Brothers, Number One and a Weekend Special’ is written by political analyst, Richard Calland. Picture: Facebook.

“The Brothers, Number One and a Weekend Special”

The gripping play explores the dangerous world of South African politics.

Written by respected political analyst. Professor Richard Calland and directed by Greg Homann, this production takes the audience through a labyrinth of personal gains, politics, manipulation, suspense and intrigue.

It also explores how the new South Africa has been moulded by power, corruption and tumultuous events.

The audience will witness high-stakes manoeuvres, clandestine dealings and the manipulation of public sentiment that fuelled further racial division across the nation.

Where: The Mannie Manim Theatre at The Market Theatre, Newtown.

When: Currently on until May 19, with some shows starting at 7pm and others at 3pm.

Cost: R160-R200 from Webtickets.