In response to the impact of Covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown, the Baxter Theatre Centre has launched an initiative called Baxter Radio, aimed at recording school setworks, children’s books, new South African works and classics.
These will be made available to the Baxter’s subscriber database and to community radio stations as free content for their programming.
The initiative hopes to provide children with an alternative education and entertainment option. It also aims to give some artists the opportunity to work and provide an outlet for their creative talent.
Baxter Radio has brought together 40 local artists, including Marc Lottering, Susan Danford, Jennifer Steyn, Faniswa Yisa, Andrew Buckland and Nicky Rebelo, as well as young theatre-makers Tiisetso Mashifane, Khayalethu Anthony and Kanya Viljoen.
“I was concerned about the artists who are losing income during this lockdown and the many learners in communities who are unable to play outside and who do not have access to the internet,” says Baxter chief executive officer and artistic director, Lara Foot. I wanted to find a way for the Baxter to bridge the gap and create a platform that would contribute to a solution for both these challenges. I’m not a fan of live-streaming because I believe that theatre doesn’t exist without the special connection between actor and audience. To distil theatre through a screen is what I call anti-theatre. However, the old and trusted medium of radio asks the audience to listen and engage, which is comparable to the form of theatre.
“When I listened to the first editions of Baxter Radio, I was delighted and moved, and fondly remembered my childhood obsession of listening to stories on the radio.”
Susan Danford reads popular children’s stories which include the Zambian tale The Hare’s Revenge from Madiba Magic, Nelson Mandela’s Favourite Stories for Children, Tacky The Penguin written by Helen Lester and Julia Donaldson’s A Squash and a Squeeze.
Additional children’s stories in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and isiZulu were supplied by Jacana Publishers.
Pupils in Grades 10 to 12 will be able to tune in to listen to the reading of the isiXhosa setwork Buzani Kubawo, co-ordinated and directed by Faniswa Yisa and featuring 14 actors. Classic plays such as Harold Pinter’s Landscape and Herman Charles Bosman’s Street Woman will be performed by Jennifer Steyn and Nicky Rebelo.
Brand-new works by Tiisetso Mashifane and Khayalethu Anthony make up some of the new South African works content. Mashifane has created original content narrated in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans, which is a series of comedic short stories titled A Guide to Understanding Smaller Humans and is an attempt at understanding the world of young children through testimonies of amused older members of their families.
Marc Lottering will read Yusuf Daniel’s award-winning book Living Coloured (Because Black and White Were Already Taken), a series of short stories which are a fond remembrance of an era growing up on the Cape Flats.
It pays homage to everything from the culinary offerings between neighbours of different faiths during religious festivals, to evening entertainment at popular nightclubs.
The Baxter’s in-house production team assisted with technical support and sound effects for some of the stories.
As part of the theatre’s efforts to ensure its sustainability, a new fund-raising campaign urging the public to “Buy the Baxter a cup of coffee every month” has also been launched.
The request is simply to donate R30 or more a month.
For more information on how to contribute visit www.baxter.co.za/Baxter CoffeeAngels