Soweto Theatre opens its doors

2012-05-24 07:20

South Africa will inaugurate the new Soweto Theatre in the country’s most famous township, a project that aims to bring world-class drama to the heart of the black community.

The R150-million playhouse will be inaugurated tomorrow and is a celebration of whimsical architecture made up of three shiny cubes – one blue, one red and one yellow.

The project aims to dismantle one of the most stubborn legacies left over from apartheid by bringing large black audiences to the theatre for the first time, 18 years after the elections that ended white-minority rule and brought Nelson Mandela to power.

“It should help us to bring down the walls which have separated our communities,” said Ishmael Mkhabela, chairperson of the theatre’s board.

“This building will make a mega-statement,” he added.

“Having a facility on land which I am amazed was not invaded by people who seek informal housing but was preserved for such a wonderful project – which adds to our community a new platform for dialogue, self-expression, dreaming and envisioning the future we all aspire for as South Africans – this touches my soul and heart.”

The theatre was designed to stand out from the monotonous rows of low-cost government dwellings built to meet the country’s crushing need for affordable housing.

Its acting chief executive, Steven Sack, said he hoped the theatre would become a symbol of Soweto, a township of 1.5 million people that was home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu and was the scene of the 1976 Soweto uprising against apartheid policies.

“This is a photogenic, an iconic building,” Sack said. “The theatre is a magnet. People will see what the new Soweto looks like.”

Clara da Cruz Almeida, the original concept designer for the building, said the idea was to make it accessible to local residents.

“The design is completely oriented to pedestrians, which is the majority of South Africans. We tried to make it open with completely clear glass, so when people walk past they could see everything,” she said.

“I don’t want it to be like in other theatres that have got a skin on them and you go inside and you get lost. It should be like a naked body, you just adorn it somehow but everything is visible.”

Initially scheduled to be finished in time for the 2010 World Cup, the theatre is opening two years behind schedule.

The board of directors says producers are already lining up to stage plays in its 436-seat main theatre and two smaller performance spaces.

The theatre will debut tomorrow with an adaptation of a 1954 story by Soweto writer Es’kia Mphahlele, The Suitcase.

Famed Malian singer Salif Keita is scheduled to perform on Sunday.

Tickets will cost between R40 and R60.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.