Observatory Theatre

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The Observatory Theatre , Bloemfontein (also known in Afrikaans as Die Sterrewag Teater). A rather unique experimental theatre situated in a game reserve on a hill in the heart of the city. Constructed in the converted Lamont-Hussey astronomical observatory on Naval Hill in 1978 by PACOFS.


The Lamont-Hussey Observatory

The Lamont-Hussey was constructed by and belonged to the University of Michigan. Construction began in June 1927, installation of the 50 ton cupola and telescope was complete in March 1928 and the official opening took place on 28 April 1928. (Interestingly the Boyden Observatory, belonging to Harvard University, was also constructed at this time, at a site outside Bloemfontein at Maselspoort. The running of the observatory was later taken over by the University of the Orange Free State. By 1971 however, the observatory was not being used anymore and it was closed down in 1972.


Closure of the observatory

As the University of Michigan had no further use for the telescope or the building they offered it to anyone wanting it. It finally went to the Municipality of Bloemfontein, free of charge. Die gebou is aan die munisipaliteit gratis toegeken and it stood empty for a number of years. In 1978 the Municipality donated it to PACOFS to use as an experimental theatre space.

The Sterrewag Teater/ Observatory Theatre

The theatre is completely round, with a half moon open stage and 119 seats. It opened in 1979 with a PACOFS production of Die Huigelaar (An Afrikaans translation of Tartuffe by Molière). Still used by PACOFS, Bloemfonteinse Teatergroep, Bloemfontein Repertory Society and visiting artists.

Sources

http://www.assabfn.co.za/lamont_hussey/lamonthusseyafr.htm


(AW)

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