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Productions throughout the year will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Joburg Theatre Complex, one of the leading theatre venues in the southern hemisphere.
THE Joburg Theatre Complex is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year; looking back over the past five decades, it has been a long road, well-travelled, in positioning the theatre as the world-class entertainment venue that it is today.

Joburg Theatre CEO Bernard JayJoburg Theatre CEO Bernard JayTo celebrate this significant milestone, a series of productions will be staged throughout the year. Founded in 1962, the theatre was previously known as the Johannesburg Civic Theatre, until it was renamed in March 2009.

Without a doubt, the Joburg Theatre Complex forms part of the city’s rich history. When the municipality of the time announced its construction in 1959, the city was less than a century old and the contours of its cultural landscape were nothing compared to what it has become.

Initially funding for the construction of the theatre came from the R100 000 set aside by the city council in 1959 for an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the Union of South Africa. Upon completion, it was seen as a building of culture that was worth Johannesburg‘s ascendancy on the continent. It opened its doors on 27 August 1962.

In the 1980s, the complex was given a facelift, turning it into one of the most technically proficient theatre venues in the southern hemisphere, an accolade to which it can still lay claim.

Located at the top of Loveday Street, opposite the municipal headquarters in Braamfontein, the Joburg theatre towers over the hill. It has become one of the more significant landmarks of the city. Its shiny glass walls, distinguishes it from the rest of the buildings in the area.






Joburg Theatre
In 2000, the City was faced with looming financial failure at the theatre, along with financial and budgetary difficulties at a number of other City enterprises. In response, it embarked on a new relationship with these enterprises. Joburg Theatre was corporatised, entailing that its financing be separated from the City council.

The Nelson Mandela Theatre is the largest theatre in the complexThe Nelson Mandela Theatre is the largest theatre in the complexThe City appointed a new independent board of directors chaired by Cas Coovadia, the managing director of the Banking Association of South Africa, and Bernard Jay, a veteran of the United Kingdom theatre, producer and administrator. He was appointed the chief executive in 1993, a position he still holds.

Under the stewardship of Jay, a man who has worked in the entertainment industry for dozens of years, the Joburg Theatre keeps on reaching for greater heights in bringing out the best in entertainment.

It has more than 80 permanent and 40 casual staff. It has four stages – the Mandela, The Fringe, the People’s Theatre and

The Mandela Stage is the biggest venue, seating 1 069. Nelson Mandela agreed to the re-naming of the main theatre in his honour, saying it would be the only Mandela theatre in the world. Its facilities are among the most sophisticated in the world, with computer controlled stage lifts, stage wagons facilitating the movement of sets, adjustable proscenium and extensive sound and lighting.

The Fringe can seat 251 and People’s Theatre can accommodate 207 and Space .com houses 148.




What’s on
Productions throughout the year will celebrate the anniversary:

The Abba Show – 18 January to 5 February, Mandela Stage
Dusty, The Story – 26 January to 12 February, The Fringe
The Tallest Man on Earth – 11 February, Mandela Stage
American Anthems – 21 February to 11 March, Mandela Stage
Ilan Smith Imagine – 22 February 4 March, The Fringe
Swan Lake – 16 to 18 March, Mandela Stage
Bravo Opera Africa – 23 to 31 March, Mandela Stage
That’s Life – 28 March to 1 April, The Fringe
Adapt or Fly – 3 April to 29 April, The Fringe
Giselle – 12 to 29 April, Mandela Stage
Moscow Circus on Ice – 2 to3 May, Mandela Stage
Le Grand Cirque Adrenaline – 23 May to 17 June, Mandela Stage
Burn the Floor – 1 to 19 August, Mandela Stage
Essence of Ireland – 18 to 7 October, Mandela Stage
Jack and the Beanstalk – 31 October to 30 December, Mandela Stage
The ballet Giselle will be performed by the South Africa Ballet Theatre accompanied by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, while Swan Lake will be performed by the Universal Ballet of Korea.



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Related links:

Joburg: arts, culture and heritage
Joburg Theatre Complex