New theatre to revive the arts in Soweto

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Soweto - The construction of a R110 million professional theatre in Soweto is expected to increase cultural and creative activity in the township.

The new theatre, which will be able to accommodate various types of productions, will be situated between Jabulani Mall and the Jabulani Amphitheatre and is expected to comprise of three performing venues, seating 420, 180 and 90 people respectively.

Speaking at the sod turning ceremony marking the commencing of construction on Tuesday, Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan said the new theatre was expected to revive the arts in Soweto.

"It is our hope that what we are doing today is the commencement of a comprehensive programme of renewal and initiatives that will see us create and open up more and more spaces for cultural activity and creativity in the townships," said the minister.

The new theatre is expected to be completed in 2010.

Also speaking at the event, Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg Amos Masondo said through the theatre, more and more cultural activities will be created.

"We seek to ensure that all kinds of entertainment become a reality in the Greater Soweto community, there is a clear need to question the conventional wisdom and encourage new ideas and thinking on this particular issue," Mayor Masondo said.

The design of the theatre references various international theatres, including the Northern Stage in Newcastle and Young Vic Theatre in the United Kingdom. One of the key design elements was flexibility so that a wide variety of artistic product could be accommodated at the venue.

According to the department, the theatre will provide equitable access to arts and culture facilities for the residents of Soweto and surrounding areas, to ensure access to arts and culture services to the citizens of Johannesburg.

The theatre will be fully accessible to people with disabilities. The three stages will be wheelchair accessible from the foyer and there will be a number of wheelchair spaces in the auditorium.