Biblical heroine inspires Savoy play

Lynne Gadd–Claxton

LOCAL playwright and producer Danie Matthee is bringing his award-winning Afrikaans musical Rut to the Savoy Theatre.

Matthee first wrote the play, an adaptation of the biblical story of Naomi and daughter-in-law Ruth, 11 years ago, for the Summerstrand Dutch Reformed Church.

Matthee said the production was a church affair with the assistance of congregation members.

“The lyrics for the beautiful love song were written by one of the congregation members Koot Pieterse,” Matthee said.

The following year the gospel musical production was staged to a wider Port Elizabeth audience at the Opera House, and Matthee received a Showtime award.

In 2006, Rut was well received at the KKNK and it earned him national recognition in the form of the Kanna nomination and ATKV Afrikoon award.

Matthee said he was inspired by the Old Testament women and their fate in a patriarchal society.

“The widow, Naomi, is worried about her future. Widows were outcasts with no financial options available to them. Women in biblical times, who had no support from men, were outcasts,” Matthee said. Choreographed by Chireen Ferreira, the Obed Production depicts Naomi’s sadness after she has lost her husband and two sons. She wants to leave her married home, Moab, to return to her birthplace, Bethlehem, and tries to convince her two daughters-in-law not to join her.

“Naomi is depicted as not listening to her daughters-in-law. She is so overwhelmed by her own grief and is unable to see their pain,” Matthee said.

Ruth promises to stay by Naomi’s side and follows her to Bethlehem. There, Naomi is too old to work but Ruth says she will provide for the family of two.

The law of the time allowed for peasants to gather the left overs from the harvest, Mathee explained. Ruth would go out to a field to gather what she could.

As fate would have it, she met landowner Boaz, who was related to Naomi’s late husband. Boaz – played by Matthee – is a bachelor, and portrayed in the play as a fumbling love-struck farmer.

“Adding humour to the show, Boaz is shy. When he meets a woman he likes, he is all over the place.”

However, the women convinced Ruth to lure Boaz.

“The play has a tragic beginning and is filled with twists, humour and the journey of love to beautifully written music composed by Wikus Janse van Rensburg,” Matthee said.

Matthee has written, produced and starred in ‘n Bhoer Maak ‘n Plan, Eendag Op ‘n Reendag and his one-man show, Vry.

While English theatre is well supported in Port Elizabeth, Afrikaans productions are not always well received, he said

“Afrikaans audiences will tell me after a show it is the first time they are seeing an Afrikaans theatre production. Some will say they have seen Afrikaans singer Kurt Darren.”

Matthee has also been selected as a finalist in RSG’s radio drama competition. “I wrote the radio drama a week before the submission date and received a phone call to say I was selected in the top 12.

“I was shocked as it was something I quickly put together but I will be working with an RSG producer to make improvements.

“The radio drama will be aired on the station,” he said.

Rut started last night and runs until next week Sunday at the Savoy Theatre on the corner of Diaz and Stirk Roads in Adcockvale. Shows are at 7.30pm daily with 3pm matinees on Saturdays.

Tickets are R90 at Computicket.

There are no shows this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

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