The Baxter Theatre Centre has launched Baxter Radio to offer an alternative education and entertainment option for the children and learners who are at home during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The initiative aims to record school set-works, children’s books, new South African works, and classics.

Baxter Radio hopes to reach a wider audience and bridge the gap for communities who do not have internet access. It will be available through radio broadcasts and will also be accessible to those who support The Baxter’s fundraising initiative.

Baxter Radio also gives artists the opportunity to work and provides an outlet for their creative talent. Forty local artists have teamed up with The Baxter to provide the readings and plays.

The artists include Marc Lottering (Aunty Merle, The Musical; Aunty Merle, it’s a Girl!), Susan Danford (John Kani’s Missing, Still Breathing), Jennifer Steyn (The Goat, or who is Sylvia?; The Inconvenience of Wings), Faniswa Yisa (Knuckle City; Ityala Lamwele), Andrew Buckland (Endgame; The Inconvenience of Wings) and Nicky Rebelo (Aunty Merle, It’s a Girl!; Scenes From an Execution), as well as trailblazing  young theatre-makers Tiisetso Mashifane (Sainthood), Khayalethu Anthony (The Champion; Solomon and Marion) and Kanya Viljoen (Raak).

Baxter CEO and artistic director Lara Foot says she is not a fan of live-streaming because “theatre doesn’t exist without the special connection between actor and audience. However, the old and trusted medium of radio asks the audience to listen and engage, which is comparable to the form of theatre.”

What to expect

Susan Danford reads popular children’s stories which include The Hare’s Revenge from Nelson Mandela’s Favourite Stories for Children, Madiba Magic, Tacky The Penguin written by Helen Lester and Julia Donaldson’s A Squash and a Squeeze.

Learners in Grades 10 to 12 will be able to tune in to listen to the reading of the isiXhosa set-work 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.

The Baxter’s production team assisted with technical support and sound effects for some of the stories.

How to help

As part of The Baxter’s efforts to ensure its continuity and sustainability for years to come, a new fundraising campaign urging the public to “Buy The Baxter a cup of coffee every month” has been launched. Donating to this campaign is simple and will enable the iconic theatre to continue creating cutting-edge and new South African works and support talented artists. The request is simply to donate R30 (or more, where possible) a month, through a scheduled payment (debit or stop order).

For more information visit www.baxter.co.za/BaxterCoffeeAngels.