Gossip and its discontents in Golgotha



NOT there, any longer. Photograph courtesy

SOMETHING RATHER EXTRAORDINARY happens to the New Testament narrative around the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ under the pen of Helena Hugo and in an Afrikaans radio drama. Die Lëe Graf tells the story of Easter from the perspective of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and with the sanction of the Bible Society, it is acceptable to the original yarn. However, articulated unabashed in beautiful Afrikaans without ponsy airs and graces or crass theatrical melodrama, the tale hits with a contemporaneity that will rock your sense of time.

Featuring everything from conspiracy theories and community scepticism to gossip shared behind the hands of the unbelievers, the work shimmers with relevance. It is handled with gentle charisma and an account of ritual details such as the washing of a body before its burial. And of course, you know how the story will end, but it is the gutsy texture in between which gives this Easter play the credibility of a Nikos Kazantzakis novel dealing with arguably the best known hero story in western culture, or that of Colm Tóibín’s astonishing play The Testament of Mary.

Without kowtowing to popular tricks, gimmicks or lurid tales of bloodshed and trauma, this is a play worthy of the religious holiday on which it broadcasts. It brings you the biblical tale to deftly told life and weaves between its interstices a healthy dollop of food for thought.

  • Die Lëe Graf (The Empty Grave) is written and directed by Helena Hugo. Featuring technical input by Neria Mokwena and Evert Snyman, it is performed by Pietie Beyers, Charlie Bougeunon, Lochner de Kock, Francois Stemmet, Ria Smit and Richard van der Westhuizen, and broadcasts on RSG on Good Firday, April 10 at 1pm on Radio Sonder Grense. There will be a repeat broadcast of this play at on RSG’s Deurnag programme, at 6pm on Good Friday, April 10, and it is also available on podcast:

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