The Coronavirus crisis has had a devastating effect on the performing arts the world over, with no exception to Namibian theatre, but in the words of the iconic band Queen, “the show must go on.”
Since the start of the pandemic, many theatres have been streaming theatre productions on various online platforms and even premiering shows on these platforms. Boet & Sus, from writer and director Lize Ehler’s will be the first live-streamed offering from the National Theatre of Namibia in its 2019/20 theatre season under the Premier programme.
The show, previously scheduled to premiere on 23 April 2020, was postponed after national coronavirus regulations closed theatres and prohibited public gatherings. Now, with things gradually getting back to normal, the show is back and this time with a determination and in the words of of Ehlers, the cast and crew of this production are incredibly charged and excited for how it will turn out.
“Rehearsals are tough for actors who wear masks or face shields but we are taking all necessary steps to make this work, safely,” Ehlers says.
Boet & Sus, which stars Ehlers, Adriano Visagie, Rodelio Lewis and Roberto Menneguzzo, is a multimedia theatre production that melts the commonalities and differences between “kallids” coloureds and drag queens in present Namibia. The part talkshow-part-dragshow is in Afrikaans and English and features live musc from Imms Nicolau.
“I hope the audience sees how important it is for us to embrace ‘kallid‘ and drag culture and see how important representation of minorities is,”
On the look and feel incorporated in the production, Ehlers highlights that turquoise and white have always been staple colours in the “kallid” community and that she wanted to honor that.
“I wanted to stay authentic to the story by only casting coloured actors. Adriano Visagie plays Boet aka Alaska. Rodelio Lewis plays Miss Mavis & Roberto Meneguzzo plays Gigi has Arrived. I play Sus. It is a necessary story of friendship & kinship that cuts through a community of prejudice and ignorance,” Ehlers explains.
Ehlers says she was inspired by her own life experiences, the lives of her coloured drag performer colleagues, friends and family, including Netflix’s Pose.
“It is because the queer community is so brave and creative that we see the urgency and need in telling these stories. As an ally, I see it is as a necessity to tell the stories of our ‘kallid‘ and queer communities in Namibia.”
The creative team is also made up of Marchell Linus as Choreographer, Martin Amushendje with Video Documentation support, Miss Jey Arts as Make-Up Artist and costumes by Ingo Shanyenge.
The tickets, dates and times of the show are yet to be announced. Join the online Theatre Talk on the National Theatre of Namibia’s Facebook page on 18 August 2020, at 18h00 to meet the creative team and cast, and learn more insights into the production.
Rodelio Lewis knows how to deliver stage presence and how to demand your attention on screen all through his vibrant personality. The actor is now lending his perky self to the #TheDTour show on Touch FM Namibia.
Lewis, who works on the set of the sitcom ‘The Polanas’, says the show gave him the tools to be ready for different scripts and constant on-the-ball thinking, explaining that the momentum brought him back to a time when he was in school.
“Because of the daily requirement of procuring and co-writing a script for #TheDtour, filled with facts that carry substance, my brain is consuming so much knowledge again. And it’s quite a ride to be on,” Lewis says.
Namib Insider caught up with the award-winning actor and now, radio presenter:
How do you juggle radio presenting and acting?
I live by many quotes, but the one that has proven it to be a compulsory life mantra when it comes to juggling everything that I do, is ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ I was raised to understand that if something is important to you, you have to work for it.
Have you always wanted to be a radio presenter? What was the dream? How did you launch a career in radio broadcasting?
Radio was not at the foreground for me when it came to which aspects in the entertainment fraternity I would pursue. I had an interest, but I was never compelled to pursue it, until 2016. I had moved back to the coast and with all the creativity bottled up I needed an outlet and my friend, Odile Gertze and I had a lovely lunch date and she told me about her uncle who was the station manager for a radio station in Swakopmund. She convinced me to try it out and one interview later I was welcomed into the wonderful world of radio.
As a radio presenter, what does a typical day look like for you?
Well, I get to studio latest by 12:30 to compile and read the 13:00 o’clock news and then straight after that I go into beast mode: where I start to do research, cross-referencing and script writing for the show. This lasts until 16:00 when it’s showtime and the voice has to deliver.
Where did your love for music spark from and who are your favourite Namibian artists at the moment?
My family loves music because it fuels our vibe whenever we’re all together. So I’d have to say I learnt about music from them. At the moment, my favourite Namibian artist is Sally Boss Madam, hands down!
Radio presenting takes a lot of energy, how do you keep fresh, energised and inspired?
I dubbed 2019 as ‘The Year of Presence’ for myself. The reason being, that I wanted this year to have a focus on being present among individual interactions where I get to be myself. Last year was ‘The Year of Completion’ and I was so set on my goals that I lost touch with myself. I ran through every interaction because I had a deadline for everything and it crippled me mentally. But I’ve had time to heal and refocus my energies on consuming information that I believe is growth-centered. And with the current blessing of being on radio, I now have the opportunity to spread that growth, through quirky and exciting new avenues. And knowing that by saying the right words on air, I can positively alter someone’s life that keeps me fresh. It keeps me going.
Radio presenters all have different qualities, personalities and believes and these make them likable to certain listeners. What makes you unique?
I’ve learnt so much, from so many strong Namibian icons and legends and the one thing that all of them have taught me is that, collaborations and unity should lead your decisions. So with my time on radio, I want it to feel like a place where you feel at home. I want anyone that adds their magic to the show to feel like they’re at home with me and my co-host, MC The Dragon.
Tell us more about your on air show, #TheDTour. What happens, how you do it…the works?
Scheduling is super important and we have daily themes set in stone for the show. Before we start a week, we decide on a theme for it, which we then break apart throughout the week as follows. So, Mondays are all about motivation and taking ownership of your life. Tuesdays are all about speaking up and speaking out. Wednesdays are our money talk days. Thursdays are all about travelling and Fridays, are our entertainment and events day.
What would your closest friends say your best and worst habits are?
So I asked two of my friends to answer this question, because me answering on everyone’s behalf is probably on somebody’s list:
– Steffie: -Best Habits: “Ambitious and crazy determined”.
-Worst Habits: “Being late.”
– KD: -Best Habits: “Tenacious and you’re always looking out for others”.
-Worst Habits: “I can’t think of any”.
– Kinah: -Best Habits: “You’re there when you’re needed and you don’t mind when someone unloads onto you. No matter how long we’re apart, whenever we’re together we can just pick up where we left off. We’re always the same”.
-Worst Habit: “That you ‘aren’t at home right now”’.
– Zavatini: -Best Habits: “Being A Virgo” (I was born between two signs Virgo And Libra.)
-Worst Habit: “Not letting Libra Have too Much Fun”.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve done or had happen while your mind was wandering?
The day I was so late for work, I rushed everything to the point where I didn’t realize that I was wearing my shirt backwards… Thank heavens for Khadijah Mouton who made wearing your clothes backwards a fashion statement.
If you could know the truth behind every conspiracy, but you would instantly die if you hinted that you knew the truth, would you want to know?
I would like to know what the story behind Area 51 is…
Listen to #TheDTour Monday to Friday from 16:00 to 19:00 (CAT) on Touch FM, frequency 91.7 in Namibia or stream it here: Touch FM Namibia Stream.