Written by on August 9, 2023

ANANSI: the spider, the trickster, the man. His tales of cunning and mischief have interested children for generations, from the tales dating back to African folklore in places like Ghana. The stories of Anansi have managed to survive and become a part of Guyanese and Caribbean culture as we know it and, in recent times, have made their mark by stepping out of mere storytelling tradition and becoming a part of the curriculums taught in schools.

Some time ago, members of the National Drama Company (NDC) saw the profound need and opportunity to produce the plays taught in schools. It was done with the curriculum of schools in mind, and as such, they worked together to create captivating recorded versions of plays like ‘Ti- Jean and his brothers’ and ‘The Tempest’. Al Creighton, Ayanna Waddell, Tashandra Innis, along with the actors and various other members of the NDC, are now in the making of the legendary story of Anansi.


Ayanna Waddell (Photos by Shaniece- Bamfeild)

Ayanna Weddell, who is a part of both the NDC as well as at EDYOU FM, played a primary role in connecting drama and education. She explained how, after seeing the need for the dramatic re-enactment of the plays at EDYOU, she turned to the NDC with a chance to educate and perform. “Here at EDYOU FM one of my tasks is that I have to ensure we have programming for the schools. We are now venturing into secondary schools. So we have evolved as a unit and we have to fill that gap,” she said. “We focus on the primary level with broadcasts to schools. So now we have the higher secondary levels to reach. And that was where the NDC came in, because I know we do drama for schools. But because of COVID, we, the NDC, haven’t returned to the stage as yet. And knowing that I still have the means to reach the students through radio, it was a ripe opportunity to bridge those two things. And next year, we are hoping to do a stage performance.”




Bringing the story to the radio

Director of the production Al Creighton expressed just how big of an influence productions like these have on the students. Catering to both theatre arts and English B students, Al stated that although not a stage performance, it serves many of the same purposes. And it is just as captivating. “We have a history of doing plays that will help students doing English B. We have done ‘Lion on a Jewel’, ‘The Tempest’ and we have done ‘Ti-jean and his brothers’ on stage so that the students could actually see the play live and that always helps when studying the play as literature,” he explained. “Anansi is now on the syllabus and we decided to start by doing it on the radio. To help the students, we said let’s do it on radio so that they could at least listen to it. For the theater arts students, they could listen to Aansi because it is a performance and that would help them fulfil the obligation of critiquing performances.”

Al Creighton plays the drums on set

Whether on stage or on the radio, putting together performances have its own host of unique intricacies. The different major factors, as Ayyana explained, lay in the technical aspects of radio production. “On stage, you marry everything live and you see it and hear it. But on the studio, you have the unique opportunity to have the actors come and lay down their voices. The musicians can come and do what they have to do and then the editor can put that in the software and put everything together,” she said. From a playwright’s perspective, Al emphasised that radio is an entirely new discipline that requires different tasks from the actors. ”When you are doing a play on stage, there are certain things you take for granted because there is an audience looking at it. But for radio, the audience can only hear. So everything that you want to tell the audience, you have to tell them through sound. So you have to do the play in such a way that the audience can follow it clearly without seeing anything.”



Actor Nickose Layne stands recording in the EDYOU FM studio as he
reads his script

Also sharing his views was Nickose Layne, who plays the role of Anansi himself. As an actor, he stated how drastically different radio productions are for him. “I want to do more plays on the radio. It kind of feels like marrying some elements of the stage with some elements of film. With filmmaking, you rehearse and then you shoot. With radio you rehearse and then you record. With stage you are big, with film your acting is more laser-sharp, stage is more flood lights. I think radio for the acting wasn’t like film, it was like stage. Because people can only get what you convey through your voice. It feels like marrying a film with a stage play and putting it on the radio. And it was so cool,” he described.

The team now moves into the final production stage, adding music and perfecting the sound and editing.

Caribbean-wide interest in the new radio production.

Stay tuned to EDYOU FM for the release date.

Credit: Chronicle   


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