Siana Bangura – Interview
Swim, Aunty, Swim! The Belgrade Theatre

Interview by: Christina Nicole
Published: Tuesday 21 May 2024, 22:00pm

Swim, Aunty, Swim! is a profound, poetic story of friendship, loss, sisterhood, motherhood, ageing, starting again, and the sublime power of water.

Translation: The same rain that beats bitter-leaf until its bitter, beats sugar cane until it’s sweet.

Fatu is in search of a new life and a fresh start. Leaving London behind, she makes her way to Coventry. There she forms a friendship with fellow members of her new church, Aunty Blessing and Aunty Ama – a fiery, entertaining and sharp-witted duo of West African women in their prime, navigating changes and transitions in their own lives.

At Ama’s whim, the three of them embark on a watery challenge.  What begins as light-hearted fun and a distraction from the mundane routine of life and church, becomes a ritual of healing and rebirth, after a season of grieving.  Set across Lagos, Accra, Freetown, London, Birmingham, and Coventry, Swim, Aunty, Swim! is written by Siana Bangura and directed by Madeleine Kludje.

Siana Bangura is a writer, producer, performer, campaigner and community organiser hailing from South East London, now living, working, and creating between London and the West Midlands. She is the founder and former editor of Black British Feminist platform, No Fly on the WALL; 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 is also the founder of Courageous Films and Siana Bangura Productions and co-founder and co-curator of the Sierra Leone Arts & Culture Festival (SLACfest).

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, Tech Justice, and state violence. As a playwright, Siana’s recent works include the plays ‘Layila!‘ (2019) and ‘Swim, Aunty, Swim! (2024), produced by Belgrade Theatre in association with tiata fahodzi. Her short films include ‘Denim‘ (2017). Siana is the co-host of ‘Behind the Curtains’ podcast, produced in partnership with English Touring Theatre (ETT) and host of ‘People Not War’ podcast, produced in partnership with Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), where she was formerly a campaigner and co-ordinator. 

With three TED Talks to her name, and experience in indie publishing, journalism, campaigns and comms under her belt, Siana’s mission across her vast portfolio of work is to help move voices and experiences traditionally marginalised, from the margins, to the centre.

More at: @sianaarrgh | 
Need to know: Swim, Aunty, Swim! plays at The Belgrade from 20 May to 1 June 2024 | Find out more