The novel Beka Lamb was first published 30 years ago in March of 1982. Since then, it has come into its own as a Caribbean Classic - and has earned admirers and devotees worldwide.

Now, Saint Catherine's Academy is turning it into a play. In a sense, that is taking it back to the start because the idea for Beka Lamb first came to Zee Edgell when she was teaching at the all-girls Academy.

That was back in the 60's - and 13 years later, she birthed a novel that would come to define Belizean literature for a generation and become the first Belizean novel accepted into the CXC curriculum.

Now, it's been adapted for the stage and our intern, Robin Schaffer got a preview yesterday. Here's her report:..

Robin Schaffer reporting
Beka Lamb is a celebrated Belizean novel that focuses on many social issues that are prevalent in Belize and the rest of the Caribbean. So, was this the reason that it was chosen by Saint Catherine Academy to be performed as a play? Melissa Espat, the director and cowriter of the play says, yes.

Melissa Espat, Director and Co-writer
"We're looking at something like maybe Grease or some american play but then we were thinking why venture into an american play when we have our own local artist as creative as those american writers and the first person who popped into my mind was Zee Edgell and Beka Lamb."

"Beka Lamb has never been on stage, nobody has ever written a ply for it and so that is how we ventured into it."

Robin Schaffer
"This is the 30th anniversary of the book right?"

Melissa Espat, Director and Co-writer
"This is, 30 years ago they first publishing of Beka Lamb, that's the book with the picture of the girl with the braids; that was the first publishing that came about followed by the second one with the white cover with the hurricane scene and then finally the third one with the black cover."

"So, we have parents who have been reading Beka Lamb. It has been passing on from generation to generation which is very interesting to see how the generation gap comes together and we all enjoy Beka Lamb as one."

Robin Schaffer
"Who are you focusing on in this play?"

Melissa Espat, Director and Co-writer
"Definitely Toycie is a special character because whatever happens to her in the novel affects her friend Beka. But really again the play is Beka Lamb and how she goes through her own problems; how she grows up, her epiphany. What is her point of realization that she needs to appreciate the things that she have. So really the focus is on Beka and the people around her who affect her into becoming a better person."

The last time SCA did a play was in 1999 when the students performed Westside Story, but that already had a script. Beka Lamb, however, is a novel which had to be rewritten and adapted for the stage.

Melissa Espat, Director and Co-writer
"Zee Edgell gave us the creative rights to re-construct her novel. Of course with her permission we too some of the events and we look at what was more important; what really was this story about Beka and there were minor characters who we didn't include in the play and of course the major characters who do make Beka Lamb what it is. For example we kept granny Ivy and Illa, Beka, Toycie, Bill Lamb, Leila Lamb and Sister Virgil who is a very instrumental character in the play and all the other sisters who were instrumental in making Beka see the things that she has to be grateful for."

"We divided the play into two main acts; the first act looking at cultures and the different themes which include ethnicity, friendship, racism, women in politics and the second act is looking at the themes that occur at St. Cecilia's; Toycie's pregnancy, her loss of education, black girls in a school like St. Cecilia's, which is a bog taboo in the 1950s."

"Beka Lamb has so many settings and so many themes and for us to get all of that into one play is a bit difficult. We got into different debates, we even had to call Zee Edgell to please explain to us; how you want this character and who is this character. It's very interesting to see that they themselves got into the whole organizing and directing of the play."

This play has been a year in the making - the planning began from March of last year, but why all the preparation? Well, it is first and foremost, a fundraiser for the school's multi-purpose building.

Melissa Espat, Director and Co-writer
"We want to remind audience that this is a contribution to SCA especially if you are a graduate of SCA. Come and support us. It is worth the price and you are going to get a good show for the evening."

Beka Lamb is being played by Leandra Flowers, and you can see it tonight or Saturday at 8 at the Bliss Center. The prices are $30 for reserved seating, and $20 for general.

Channel 7