The Joburg Theatre Complex
The Joburg Theatre Complex stands tall and proud atop a hill in busy Braamfontein. You can spot it for miles, with its gleaming glass exterior and the bright billboards advertising upcoming shows. I distinctly remember my first ever visit to the Joburg Theatre – on a Grade 2 field trip to see The Jungle Book. Since then, I have returned more times than I can count on two hands and two feet. I have also been fortunate enough to step backstage to discover all the secret workings of the mysterious theatre. Let me tell you, there is far more going on back there than you could imagine!
Nevertheless, to the average theatre goer, the Joburg Theatre is a seamless, well-oiled machine. Pumping out over 50 shows a year, this should be your go-to for a little inner city theatre magic. Boasting four separate theatre spaces, Joburg Theatre offers everything from Broadway-esque musicals to South African protest theatre classics and more. Here’s a little bit more about the Joburg Theatre’s four venues:
The Nelson Mandela Stage
The Nelson Mandela Stage is the Joburg Theatre Complex’s largest venue. Seating just over 1 000 audience members, The Nelson Mandela Theatre is an impressive auditorium, decorated in the trademark theatre reds and golds. The Mandela operates for over 55 days a year, often bringing in at least 75% audience attendance. The venue hosts the annual Janice Honeyman Panto, the Joburg Ballet, big-budget musicals and operas. If you are looking for a traditional theatre experience with a unique South African twist, this is the place for you.
The Space.com is the smallest of the Joburg Theatre’s venues. Nevertheless, this tiny space has played home to a number of successful productions. This is often the venue allocated to independent theatre shows looking to gather an open-minded audience. One man shows are the bread and butter of this venue, too. Visit the Space.com to see cutting-edge theatre on the brink of making it big.
The Lesedi Theatre
The Lesedi Theatre, formerly known as the Fringe, is the Joburg Theatre’s second largest venue. It is the theatre’s most versatile space, staging anything from student productions, to adaptations of Brecht and Chekov’s best known works. The Lesedi often hosts productions touring Joburg before they head off to big festivals, such as the National Arts Festival. So, pay them a visit if you are unable to make the great 969km trek to Makhanda, or if you are just looking to see some great theatre right here at home.
The Peoples Theatre
Joburg Theatre is also home to Jill Girard and Keith Smith’s Peoples Theatre Company. Housed just a short walk from the main complex, the Peoples Theatre stage children’s theatre pieces all year round to adoring young audiences. Catering to kids aged between three and 13 years of age, the People’s Theatre is the perfect place to introduce your children to the magic of live performance. Adults are welcome to join in on the fun, too, by singing along to hits from the likes of Shrek, Madagascar and The Cat in the Hat.
The Joburg Theatre Complex not only offers you great entertainment, but a great dining experience as well. Stop by Stages Restaurant before or after a show. Their menu features an array of contemporary cuisine offerings, including vegetarian choices. Stages is a great place to hang out and talk about the awesome show you have just seen. Plus, the actors occasionally pop in for a bite between shows, so you can thank them for their performances or sneak a quick selfie.
Dr Mbongeni Ngema’s Sarafina! will be re-staged at the Joburg Theatre in honour of National Women’s Month. This singing, dancing spectacular takes place in 1976 at Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto, where about 200 000 black students gathered in protest against the Apartheid government’s decree that they be educated solely in Afrikaans. If you have never seen Sarafina! live, get your tickets ASAP.
Sarafina! will be on stage at the Nelson Mandela Theatre from Friday, 19 July to Sunday, 11 August 2019. Book your tickets here.
Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero
Zakes Mda’s famed professional mourner Toloki, is brought to life in Gregory Maqoma’s new dance work, Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero. Based on Mda’s follow up novel to Ways of Dying, this dance production sees Toloki embodied by both solo dancers and by a group collective. The piece is performed by the Vuyani Dance Company. Confronting issues of life, death, fear and mourning, Cion is a must-see.
Cion will be staged from Thursday, 05 September to Sunday, 15 September 2019 on the Mandela stage.
Janice Honeyman’s Jack and the Beanstalk
Wrapping up the season, Janice Honeyman’s annual Panto rolls into the Joburg Theatre. This year’s fantastical story takes its cues from the classic Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale – there’s the poor country boy Jack, the family cow, some magic beans, an enormous beanstalk, one unfriendly giant and the enchanted hen that lays the golden egg. Of course, Honeyman will add a dose of South African humour for good measure. Take the kids along to see the Panto – it’s the perfect way to celebrate the Christmas season.
Janice Honeyman’s Jack and the Beanstalk will be on stage from Saturday, 02 November to Sunday, 22 December 2019.
For more information
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Contact the theatre Box Office on 0861 670 670 or via email at email@example.com