A special feature of RedFest this year is our very own Redhill Old Girl Lesedi Job’s direction of Helen of Troyeville, a production that has wowed theatregoers throughout South Africa.Lesedi occupies a special place in Redhill history. Having been dismayed to find no choir in high school, she formed an a cappella group that regaled for many years with her at the helm. Nominated as a prefect on the back of her status as head of the students’ Cultural Committee, she has taken a somewhat roundabout route to a career on stage.
Soaking up acting, dancing and public speaking, Lesedi nonetheless started out studying journalism after leaving Redhill. This left her completely unfulfilled as a pursuit, and she very bravely entered Idols in 2003, propelled by her absolute compulsion to let her talent fly. Faring well into the top 32 contestants, she realized she had ‘come home’ and decided to formalize her love of the arts by enrolling at Wits University, studying both music and drama and graduating with an Honours Degree in dramatic arts some years later.
Lesedi is well known as a singer, voiceover artist and actress. Her current foray into the realm of directing has all of hallmarks of a Lesedi Job pursuit, namely the unavoidable dedication and charisma she exudes wherever she goes. Debuting in James Ngcobo’s The Lion and the Jewel (2008), this initial foray into theatre was followed by more collaboration with Ngcobo on Touch my Blood (2009).
Further collaboration followed, with memorable productions such as Coloured Museum (2014), the hugely popular Ketekang (2014), Letters to Mandela (2015), I almost remember: a tribute to Maya (2015) and A Raisin in the Sun (2016) for which she received a Naledi Theatre Award nomination for her role as Ruth Younger.
In so many ways, Lesedi epitomises the spirit of growth encompassed by Redhill. Modest and unassuming, she nonetheless demonstrates the tenacity and strength of purpose so valued on the Campus and has had a well-deserved rise in theatrical echelons.
Theatregoers all over the world will remember her in a number of other productions too, notably her international collaboration with actors from the USA, Sweden and SA in an excerpt from A Raisin in the Sun for World Theatre Day, in Washington DC. Probably most notably for local fans, the inimitable Curl up and Dye (2013), directed by Sue Pam Grant, starred Lesedi too.
Performing in Lara Foot’s Fishers of Hope (2014) which went on to be performed in Vienna and Germany, Lesedi received a Naledi Theatre Award nomination for best performance by a leading actress. To further highlight her roots at Redhill, Lesedi is currently starring in a two-hander with Fiona Ramsay, If we Dig, directed by fellow Redhill Old Girl Megan Willson.
It seems it was only a matter of time before Lesedi extended her talent to the director’s chair, and in 2016 she availed herself of an opportunity to assist director Adrian Noble during a workshop of the new musical Sousatzka which was staged in 2017 at the Elgin theatre, Toronto. The same year marked her solo directorial debut with the premier of Mike Van Graan’s When Swallows Cry, followed soon thereafter by her direction of Omphile Molusi’s Itsoseng, both of these productions being staged at Johannesburg’s famous Market Theatre.
Amongst many accolades, Lesedi is also the fourth recipient of the Sophie Mgcina Emerging Voice Award. To quote the Director herself: “Helen of Troyeville is the third theatre production I have directed as well as my second Mike Van Graan script. It is brave, bold and slightly uncomfortable, but in my years of study at Redhill I was constantly supported for my bravery and boldness. I am aware that the motto “Free to Build” has stayed with me on my journey.”
Come one, come all, and enjoy, as Lesedi does us all proud at RedFest this year.