Cape Town’s vibrant performing arts scene is a theatre-lover’s dream, with performances across a myriad of genres at playhouses across the city. From Shakespeare under the stars to spectacular opera, thought-provoking drama and hilarious comedy, the stages of the mother city offer something for everyone.
1. The Baxter Theatre – Rondebosch
The Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch, just east of Cape Town’s CBD, has played an important part in South Africa’s rich performing arts history, defying censorship during the Apartheid years by putting on sharp-edged, multi-racial performances. Today the Baxter continues this legacy by playing host to cutting-edge local and international productions, including drama, ballet, music, and comedy.
On the other side of the Mountain Pieter Toerien’s Theatre on the Bay serves up great food and great theatre. Just off Camps Bay’s main strip, it offers audiences an array of both local and international dramas, comedies, dance, cabaret, pantomimes and musicals.
3. Maynardville Open Air Theatre – Maynardville Park
Shakespeare’s Cape Town home is the Maynardville Open Air Theatre which hosts the Artscape’s annual Shakespear-in-the-Park sessions, where you can enjoy professional Shakespeare productions under the stars. The theatre is located in Maynardville Park in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs.
If you’re looking for great community theatre The Masque Theatre in Muizenberg is just the place for you. Featuring a well-equipped, 174-seat venue, this community theatre hosts amateur performances of all genres.
Named after world-famous South African playwright Athol Fugard and located in historical District Six, the Fugard Theatre is one of Cape Town’s most beloved theatres. Featuring two intimate theatres and a bioscope, it has hosted a number of celebrated local and international performances, including The Rocky Horror Show and Waiting for Godot.
Right in the middle of Cape Town’s CBD is the popular Alexander Bar and Café. The theatre upstairs is known to be a hotbed of up-and-coming local talent and hosts an array of diverse productions from comedy, live music, drama, poetry readings and much much more.
Established by renowned theatre director Nicholas Ellenbogen to serve as a platform for up-and-coming artists and seasoned theatre veterans alike, the Rosebank Theatre is especially known for comedy and musical performances in its intimate, 50-seat venue. When visiting the theatre, please bring cash to purchase refreshments, as they currently do not have card facilities available.
This unique little theatre is the only permanent puppet theatre in South Africa. Situated in the kindergarten building of the Constantia Waldorf School just south of Cape Town city centre, the little playhouse puts on puppet productions inspired by classic Grimm fairy tales every Saturday morning. The shows rotate every month and is recommended for toddlers aged four and up.
Cape Town’s premier performing arts venue is the magnificent Artscape theatre complex. It features four theatres that play host to everything from large-scale operas and internationally renowned ballet performances to popular musicals.
Established in 1987 as a space to develop unique, topical and innovative African theatre, the Magnet Theatre in Observatory just outside the Cape Town CBD, is known for its critically acclaimed stage productions that inspire audiences of all ages.
The Willowbrigde Barnyard Theatre in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs offers highly entertaining in-house productions enjoyed in a friendly family atmosphere. Guests sit around large wooden tables and can bring their own picnic baskets or order from the cash bars or coffee stations.
Just off buzzing Bree Street you’ll find the Purple Palace known as Gate 69. It’s Cape Town’s home of cabaret and good times are guaranteed! You’ll also be treated to a double layered Lazy Susan filled with delicious tapas as well as soup and a dessert of decadent ice cream while you enjoy world-class entertainment. It’s a glamorous affair so be sure to dress up for the red carpet. Cathy, Holly and Molly, South Africa’s favourite Trolley Dollies, will have you and your table in stitches as they wow you with their vocal talents, big hair and dashing good looks.