Where the Audiences are

A list of Theatre Capacity in the Mother City

Ever wonder where the audiences are? I don’t have an answer for you, but I know where they could be…

425 are sitting in the Fugard (145 in the Studio and 280 in the Main) while 372 are at the three theatres on Hiddingh campus: 72 in the Arena, 75 in the Intimate and 225 in the Little. 225 are in Camps Bay at Theatre on the Bay while next to the other ocean 78 are chilling in Kalk Bay Theatre and 171 are at the Masque. Over in Obs there are 60 at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, 55 at Obz Café and 148 sitting in the old match factory that is home to Magnet Theatre. For the outdoorsy types Maynardville can pack 690 folks on cold chairs with warm sherry. 1674 could be inside the tower of brick work that is the Baxter Theatre Centre, but only if they ran the Flipside (200) at the same as the Main stage (666), more likely that they’ll just run one of them with the Golden Arrow Studio’s 172 and the Concert Hall’s 636. But if all the theatres I’m counting are full then chances are that Wally would be hiding out among the 2157 strong crowd at the Artscape. Maybe with the Arena’s 129, or the Main’s 541, but most likely he’d be half hidden by the woman with the ugly hat in the Opera House where it’d be almost impossible to spot him among the 1487 people.

All numbers are subject to variations, some more than others, for instance empty box spaces like Hiddingh’s  Arena or Fugard’s Studio have completely changeable seating, while bigger theatres like the Artscape or even the Little take out or add rows of seating depending or orchestra pits and aprons.

Have a pie Chart!

A colourful Pie!



Hiddingh Little Theatre


Hiddingh Intimate


Hiddingh Arena


Theatre in the District


Fugard Main


Fugard Studio


Baxter Main


Baxter Flipside


Baxter Studio


Baxter Concert Hall


Artscape Main


Artscape Opera


Artscape Arena


Theatre on the Bay


Masque Theatre


Kalk Bay Theatre


Theatre Arts Admin Collective




Obz Café


Fugard at the Fugard

a post that’s actually about writing and not really a review at all

Drive or walk around the city and you can see my work. A blazing sunset with a thorn tree silhouetted against it. Three small figures can be seen under it, while a flock of birds pass overhead. “Athol Fugard’s The Bird Watchers” the title states in letters taller even than municipal regulations would have them. It’s not the kind of poster I generally like, I’m not a fan of landscapes and the iconography is a touch too clichéd (I should probably mention that I am the designer, but I’ll leave that hanging). But it does make sense in the context of the story Fugard tells, if not with the scenography of Saul Radomsky. Fugard is a writer driven by the wisdom: “write what you know” and in the Birdwatchers he draws on the setting and memories of his conversations with Barney Simon and Yvonne Bryceland. The Central character is Garth, a writer revisiting a time with Lenny, a director, and Rosalyn, an actress. But these roles don’t sum up the relationship between the 3 of them. The play comes in two acts split by an interval and an understaffed scene change. The first half is set in the real world, under the unGwenya tree of Garth’s home and the second is a return to that place and time by an aged Garth in his imagination. The stark simplicity of the stump of the tree and the sear decay of his re-imagined home was biting. The story is a self-flagellation as Garth regrets words, attitudes, selfishness and wasted potential. What I found to be greatest flaw and also the most thought-provoking aspect of the production was this self-absorption, a feedback loop of pain. At one pointed I wanted to give Uncle Athol a hug, in part because a lot of his cutting words I’ve used on myself many times.

There’s this tremendous ego at work when I’m writing.  I’m creating a world of events that I think, believe, know are fascinating to others, are relevant, important and irreplaceable. Did I say Unique? Yes, I believe that too. Against the cacophony of cries that nothing is original, I believe my work is. We are all snowflakes. All writers believe it although they don’t all admit it.

I wasn’t absorbed by the story on stage, either emotionally or intellectually and at the close I wasn’t moved to my feet. But the naked self-portrait followed by the man himself blew the top off my head. Fugard emerged to handle the Q&A with a sneaky and witty answer to anticipated questions of autobiography: he was wearing the same clothes as the character Garth. Justin Cartwright lead the Q&A with Fugard, but we struggled to hear our host, even though Fugard was as clear as the actors had been.

Essentially my thoughts were caught up in this question: Why do we write what we write? Fugard tackles this quite early on. “Love her.” He tells us, referring to all the ugliness, despair and human decay the world has, personified for him in an encounter with a homeless woman. This idea, that writing needs to be driven by compassion, clicked for me. Looking at the plays I’ve seen recently I think that audiences have always known this. While the political satires become shrill or petty and the beautiful, witty pieces of escapist fantasy struggle to be understood, stories of simple compassion genuinely touch people. Look at London Road, look at …miskien. When writing doesn’t let itself love something, or when the director doesn’t see it or the actor doesn’t feel it can still be a lot of things, but it can’t change the audience.

There are a lot of other ideas I’m still processing, about performance styles, politics and morality. For now, let’s leave it on the lesson learned.

“Love her.”

The Fugard Theatre

From the outside the Fugard looks like a church that the city has grown up around. The other buildings are tightly packed around it and loom a little over it, giving its stone façade an out of place feeling that captures the magic of the whole place. It feels like a old and trusted place, rather than the new kid on the block in the little theatre world of Cape Town.

On these grey winter days that feeling is even more powerful as you walk into the foyer. The yellow wood warms up the interior and sets off the exposed old brick and concrete. The designer perfectly balanced hard and soft, cold and warm to create a welcoming and stylish space.

But what really make this place special is that this quality, this style and care is everywhere. From the dressing rooms to the operating booth, the rehearsal room to the bath rooms. This is a theatre as much for the people who make theatre as the patrons. Mark and Manny have built a home. Everyone of the staff who I’ve met there is amazing, welcoming and energised. They have a family feeling about them.

Bringing London Road into such a space is such a pleasure. The play itself is so centred on connection and bonding that it feels like it just wouldn’t work in one of the dinosaur theatres squatting around Cape Town.

Technically the theatre is also top notch with an extensive rig and an advanced lighting board. All the conveniences and technological essentials have been built into the auditorium. Although I must confess that as an operator I love being out in the auditorium and working analogue sliders. That’s my style, hearing and seeing from the audience’s perspective and adjusting levels and timing to the little changes in performance.

I’m sorry that I’m only going to be here for the week, Tara Notcutt will take over from next week. But on the upside Lara Bye has been very understanding about my commitments. Next week Yawazzi opens Twofold at Tabula Rasa. This is a very exciting project for the team and everyone is nervous – it’s a big project with a lot of elements. But we’re ready to pull it out of the hat. Magically speaking, of course.