Saira Essa

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Saira Essa. (1957-) Actress, director, dramatist, radio and TV presenter and model.


She was married to the actor Charles Pillai. She later married Mark Corlett.



She has a BA Honours degree in Drama and is a Licentiate of the Trinity College of Music, London.


Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Among her plays are The James Commission (1989), A Woman Alone (198*), Mahatma Ghandi (198*) and You Can't Stop the Revolution (1987).

Saira has played leading roles in Macbeth, The Primary English Class, The Revenge (at the Market Theatre), The Good Woman of Setzuan, Inherit the Wind, Uncle Vanya, In Camera, Call me Woman (at the Market Theatre), Dutchman, and her successful one woman play A Woman Alone.

She has directed Christie in Love, Canterbury Tales, Statements, The Island, Pinnocchio, Bad Day at Black Frog Creek and a musical based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. She wrote and directed Steve Biko: The Inquest.

As director she is best known for The Biko Inquest (by John Blair and Norman Fenton), done in Durban and at the Laager in 1985. (Also performed in Bombay in 1985).

She founded the Upstairs Theatre in Education Company in 1982.

Awards, etc

In 1982 she was awarded the Durban Critics Circle Award for her contribution to theatre in Durban.

Voted The Star Woman of the Year circa 1987.


SACD 1980/81.

Steve Biko: The Inquest programme notes, circa 1986.

Tucker, 1997.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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