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A Bio-vaudeville house was a venue utilised in South Africa for the showing of bioscope films and for music hall and vaudeville performances.

See also Music hall and Bioscope


The introduction of movies as an entertainment form led to the conversion of many theatres to enable them to host both stage performances as well as films. Examples include the Grand Theatre , Bloemfontein (1906).

In the early years of silent movies, films shows often formed part of a longer evening's entertainment, often preceded by variety style performances as well as being accompanied by music. Gradually a specific combined form of entertainment evolved, a form known as Bio-vaudeville or Bio-varietyin South Africa, since movie houses were known there as bioscopes. The practice lasted in some form or other into the 1960s.

In view of this development, the early 20th century soon saw not only the adaptation of existing theatres, but also the construction of new, custom-built venues to serve as Bio-vaudeville houses and present such variety shows. Examples include The Criterion, 1912, Durban; The Palladium, 1913, Johannesburg,

Late examples of bio-vaudeville include Basil Rubin's Pinewood Cinema where Pieter Toerien became involved in offering Bio-vaudeville programmes from 1963 onwards.


Percy Tucker, 1997.

For more information

See Film and Music hall

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