The Fugard Theatre is one of Cape Town’s premier theatre, cinema and event destinations. Located in the heart of Cape Town’s District Six, it was born from the vision and philanthropy of esteemed theatre stalwart Eric Abraham a mere seven years ago. The recipient of two Academy Awards, Abraham chose to share the prestige and name the theatre after ‘the greatest play-write of all time’, according to Time Magazine – Athol Fugard, as a gesture of humanitarianism.
This is the ‘golden thread of humanitarianism’ that governs the operation of the theatre as a whole, from the productions that are showcased to the treatment you receive once you walk through the door. “We want to create a space that celebrates a common humanity”, says Executive Director Daniel Galloway. The plays that are held at the Fugard are those that are meaningful; they connect with people and reflect the state of the society in which we live.
The theatre’s namesake, Athol Fugard, was a definitive figure in anti-Apartheid activism, who used theatre as a means to give a voice to the oppressed and ultimately unite people of different colours and creeds through the arts. This philosophy is still strongly endorsed today, as the Fugard aims to change the face of theatre to one that is more inclusive and representative. “We want to open the platform of theatre to a more diverse crowd. Be it through affordable ticket prices or a convenient time of day, we want to make theatre accessible to everyone”.
In the short time that it’s been around, The Fugard Theatre has seen a notable shift towards this transformation. In addition to the multi-racial and multicultural elements, a wave of younger patrons have infiltrated the space. “Our social media presence has definitely allowed us to reach a new generation”, says Daniel. They are also pulled into the Fugard through recognisable titles of cult classics such as The Rocky Horror Show or West Side Story. But, it is the “one hundred percent experience-focused” business model that keeps them coming back. It is more than just about the production being good. “We want people to feel good; through great service and comfortable atmosphere.”
The theatre offers productions that are stimulating and entertaining, yet also provides a space where people can come to meet up with friends, meet new people or mingle with like-minded individuals. The Fugard rooftop bar offers breath-taking views of the city and is often filled with an after-work crowd on summery weekday evenings. The in-house cafe adds to the homely ambiance too, as does the hardwood walls and flooring. Nestled on the bustling corner of Caledon and Buitenkant streets, you immediately feel an aura of calm and cosiness as you step inside.
The decision to build the Fugard in the historical District Six was a conscious decision to celebrate the multi-cultural melting pot that is South Africa. “We are very proud to pay homage to the legacy of the area.” The popular David Kramer production District Six – Kanala was a long-running musical tribute specifically targeted at the local community, and the hard-hitting A Human Being Died That Night another depiction of crimes against humanity in South Africa.
In each production showcased at the theatre, whether it’s a light-hearted musical comedy or tragic re-enactment of our country’s dark past, there will always be a message of substance within it. “We try to avoid unnecessarily frivolous entertainment. What we aim to achieve is to get the audience to reflect. People need to leave the theatre and think.”
Through Eric Abraham’s relationship with the arts and his vision of creating a home where world-class entertainment can be presented, the Fugard has developed a brand of high quality and exceptional content. The aim is to leave behind a legacy of humanity, kindness, care and transparency.
Audience’s can enjoy works that embody these characteristics every week from Tuesdays to Fridays at 8 pm and on Saturdays at 4 pm and 8 pm. The different theaters range from 280-seater, 150-seater and a bioscope. Forthcoming highlights include a brand new production of legendary South African musical King Kong, set to be a box-office hit when it opens on 25th July 2017.
Where Corner Caledon & Lower Buitenkant Street, District Six
Contact +27 (0) 21 461 4554, thefugard.com