South Africa’s Baxter Theatre Centre - whose production of Hamlet, starring John Kani and directed by Janet Suzman, receives its UK premiere on Thursday (27 April 2006) in Stratford as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works festival - says the show must go on in tribute to actor Brett Goldin (pictured), who was due to play the role of Guildenstern but was murdered this month.

The company was performing open rehearsals in Cape Town when the incident happened. Goldin had performed two showings of the bard’s famous tragedy when he and a friend went missing after the Saturday matinee on 15 April 2006. He was found dead in a field outside Cape Town that night, with a gunshot wound to his head. The Monday 17 April performance of Hamlet was cancelled, but the company continued with the remaining two scheduled performances on 18 and 19 April.

Fahiem Stellenboom, marketing manager for the Baxter Theatre Centre, told “We are all grieving, but we are very much of the opinion that the show must go on. Brett was one of those actors who really loved the stage very, very much. He would walk out onto the stage saying ‘I love what I’m doing’. He would want us to continue with the performances."

Goldin acted professionally since the age of 11 and had extensive experience in theatre, television and film, both locally and internationally. He completed his BA degree in English and Drama and later a Performer’s Diploma in Speech and Drama at University of Cape Town. His most recent local television credits include Yizo Yizo 3 and the Canadian/South African co-production, Charlie Jade. He starred in and co-wrote the series Fela’s TV and appeared in Cavegirl, Stokvel, Madam and Eve, SOS and Scoop Schoombie.

Goldin’s film credits include Slash, Proteus, Racing Stripes, Citizen Verdict, Adrenaline and the short film Stimulation. On stage, he appeared in Macbeth, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Tale of Two Cities and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. His self-penned one-man show Bad Apple played at the Cape Town Festival, the Schools’ Festival at Artscape and the NSA Festival in Johannesburg.

Nicholas Pauling now plays the role of Guildenstern. He had to step in on the Tuesday morning at 10.00am to open that night. Stellenboom continued: “There was incredible electricity in that performance, both among the audience and the actors, because, I know it sounds like a cliché, but we felt as though our friend was there.”

According to Stellenboom, nine people have been arrested in Cape Town in connection with the murder. Investigations are continuing. He added: “The whole company was completely devastated when we found out what had happened. We are doing this for Brett.”

Hamlet runs at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Swan Theatre from 27 April to 6 May 2006, as part of the RSC’s just-opened, year-long Complete Works Festival involving companies from around the world (See News, 21 Apr 2006).

- by Caroline Ansdell