Sad goodbye to Armchair Theatre

2008-05-05 16:07

Cape Town - The Independent Armchair Theatre, situated in the heart of Cape Town's vibrant Observatory community, has closed its doors.

Despite playing host to South Africa's best musicians, as well as providing a platform for comedians, plays and film festivals, the venue was suffering severe financial problems and was forced to close.

The Armchair's owner, Gilad Hockman, broke the news in a press release posted on the theatre's Facebook profile on Saturday.

"I've been avoiding this press release for about a month now. To cut straight to it, after little more than eight years of existence and an eternity of good times The Armchair has closed," Hockman wrote.

According to Hockman he bought The Independent Armchair Theatre in March 2005.

"At the time the business was heavily in debt and about to close," he recalls.

"Since then we have fought tooth and nail to not only keep The Armchair going but to make it the best venue for live music that we could offer.

"But three years later with my debts and stress levels reaching dangerous proportions, I had to take the decision, like my predecessor, to sell the business," he said.

Expensive renovations

Hockman told News24 on Monday that the City of Cape Town first closed down the theatre at the beginning of March due to noise complaints.

"Some expensive renovations were required to meet the City of Cape Town's noise pollution requirements, which would only have plunged the theatre into further debts," he said.

"I have had a potential buyer, but unfortunately the deal fell through. And so - with The Armchair not able to reopen without the soundproofing and no money to pay for the rental - the time has come to close," a very sad Hockman said.

Hockman told News24 of all the messages of support that he has received since his announcement. "The Armchair was important to many people in Cape Town. It is one of the finest things to have existed in this city and people are really very disappointed about the theatre's closure."

And what does the future hold for Hockman?

"I have no idea. All I know is that I would love to stay in the music industry. A few bands have asked me to help with their management. I will also continue to play in our band," says Hockman, who plays the bass guitar for Cape Town based band The Buckfever Underground.

Hockman added a special word of thanks to all who supported the Armchair during its eight years of existence.

"Thanks to anyone who ever set foot in the Armchair. Who made the times and enjoyed the times. The place was there for and because of you."