BY BILLY SUTER
SOUTH African radio drama may not be anywhere near as prolific as it was in its heyday but it is still alive, well and living in Durban, Lotus FM’s drama producer, Raeesa Mahomed, is keen to point out.
Also, she is delighted to announce that Durban performers Roger Service, Michael Gritten, Tom Read and Philippa Savage are teaming talents for a new radio drama serialisation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet soon.
“It’s that time of the year when Lotus FM rolls out its annual Shakespeare production. Last year, the station introduced the initiative with Othello, the 2016 matric setwork, translating it into modern English to make it more accessible to Grade 12s who are battling with the Bard’s language” she says.
“This year’s matric Shakespeare is Hamlet and the station has already started recording the drama with a top cast of local actors.”
Last year Mahomed did the translation herself but opted this year to rope in award-winning actor and writer Rory Booth to do the honours.
The powerhouse cast will have Michael Gritten as Hamlet, Roger Service as Claudius, Tom Read as Polonius and Philippa Savage as Ophelia.
The first 15-minute episode will air on Monday, July 3, and the drama will play every weekday at 9.45am.
“For those who miss it, the same episode will be repeated at 9.30pm. It will be the start of the winter holidays, making it easier for learners to tune in,” adds Raeesa.
The drama is being recorded at the specialised radio drama studios of the SABC in Durban and is accompanied by sound effects which enhance the production.
This, together with the dialogue, results in a product that is of immense assistance for students trying to come to grips with a play that is centuries old but with deep and valuable messages, and universal appeal.
“Last year our Shakespeare production was a huge success, with great feedback from schools and learners. They were particularly appreciative of the high standard of the production and the translation which facilitated the learners’ studies,” explains Raeesa.
“Shakespeare is one of the most well known writers in the English language and special attention has to be paid to do justice to his work – and, from all accounts, we’ve achieved this.”
Santosh Beharie, the station’s programmes manager, is also pleased at the reception of last year’s Shakespeare production and expects the same this year.
“Radio drama is well established at the station and for years we have produced work that was of a high standard and very entertaining. This is just taking it to a new level and also speaks to our public service mandate,’ he says.
Raeesa points out that the station has been producing radio drama since 2006, its many successes, of course, having included the long-running Lollipop Lane serial created by Durban’s Clinton Marius.