Radio Drama – The Imaginary Movie

Already more than 10 Million readers, spectators and first of all listeners have met Kadogo, her grandmother, Mwalimu Patricia and Mzee Lodyang. They are the heroes of a little SIF/Kituo Cha Sheria comic book “Real Talk – This can happen to anyone of us” that was published in 2017 and adapted to an animated movie and to a Radio Drama in 2018. In 2019 this Drama got 10 new episodes to be broadcast in the 40 Kenyan Community Media Stations. This new SIF radio drama that was launched during the celebrations of the World Radio Day February 13th 2019 at Ruben FM, Mukuru slums was produced in collaboration with CPS – Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET) project “Umoja – Radio for Peace and Ruben FM. Radio Drama for conflict transformation and community education, informationand empowerment is an interesting and innovative tool using the most widespread media in Africa: Radio!

Did you ever experience this? Your radio is on, you listen to a voice and in your imagination you seem to “see” this person, whether it is a tall and smart man, a younger lady, a bit shy, a gangster, a bad character. You hear a creaking door and suddenly the wind blowing and automatically you turn your head – shivering slightly – to look whether the door is closed or not. If this happens, the radio people did a great job. Radio Drama is like theatre for blind people, as you don’t see anything you must get the picture in your imagination: Voices, ambient noise, silence – different actors with different voices, a narrator, and the noise of everything else which you do not see. A splash of water – was it a stone thrown in a river or someone jumping into the water. You listen: It was Kadogo who just shouted “Look Grandmother!” and “SPLASH” she jumped in the river – she mustn’t say “Look Grandmother, I will jump in the river” – she does it and you hear/see it. And you feel that Grandmother is afraid calling her grandchild “Oh, Kadogo, be careful …!”

That’s Radio Drama – Theatre for radio listeners. In the “UMOJA – Radio for Peace” project we have experienced this with two previous radio drama productions: “Real talk – This can happen to anyone of us”. The story of Kadogo, her grandma, Mwalimu Patricia, Mzee Lodyang, Swalee and others talks and informs about displacement. In 2018 this first CPS-Radio Drama was broadcasted by 40 Kenyan Community Radio Media stations and reached about 12 Million Listeners. It is not easy to get a better outreach for information.

At the World Radio Day 2019, 10 new episodes with Kadogo have been launched – 10 stories which are talking about access to education and domestic violence, bad leadership and forced eviction, human trafficking and Trauma. Radio Drama can address serious topics in a light and touching way, it can entertain and inform at the same time with real people whom you can love or hate, they emerge in your imagination. Radio Drama for community information, education and empowerment is an inclusive and participatory tool cutting across separate lines – creating imaginary movies with individual pictures and common messages.

The scripts were developed in a unique approach in a 3-days “Creative Writing” workshop with community actors and stakeholders, radio people, CPS and KCOMNET staff. The technical production was done by Mukuru kwa Rubens community Radio known as RUBEN FM.

Radio Voices are magic: Every listener will hear the same words when Kadogo claims her right to access form 2 with a bursary, everybody will imagine his own Kadogo, “see” his own pictures, giving her an individual face – that’s Radio Drama.

A last question to be answered: Is Radio Drama expensive and complicated to produce? A clear answer: NO! Radio Drama production need not be expensive; it needs time and a systematic approach – Radio Drama is not “Comedia del arte”,  an early form of professional theatre, originating from Italy, that was popular in Europe from the 16th to the 18th century.. The basic need is a well elaborated production script with different columns: dialogues, noise and narrator. Noise can be recorded or found in online databases. To get the noise of a Tuktuk taxi we did some kilometers squeezed in a tricycle to record the typical noise of this engine in the traffic, bleating sheep and goat can be found in sound-databases**.For the voicing we worked with actors of 5 community theatre groups, chosen after an audition to find the best voice for every role. The edit with a multitrack sound editor*** is business as usual for trained radio people.

*The Radio Drama “This can happen to anyone of us” can be listened at section RADIO DRAMA. The 10 new episodes will be accessible through the same link from March 2019


***An excellent open source sound editor is “Audacity”

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