Designed by monument architect, Mr F. Lamond Sturrock who initially referred to it as the "Memorial Hall", the planners ultimately turned it into an auditorium seating 920 people with a 50 piece orchestra pit. The stage, with 15.5m revolve, included side and rear spaces with a loading bay. With a 25m high fly tower and a computerised lighting system, the theatre boasted facilities among the best in Southern Africa. There is a ballet rehearsal room and dressing rooms for 68 performers. Extensively refurbished since the fire gutted it in 1994, improvements to the auditorium include: state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology, significantly improved acoustics, a new 700 squre metre stage floor with loading access optimised, and 941 fireproof seats.
Inaugurated with the Monument itself on 13 July 1974, it opened with a CAPAB production of Shakepeare's King Lear, directed by Roy Sargeant, designed by Ken Robinson, with Michael Atkinson as Lear. The theatre is used for dramatic, musical, amateur and professional productions, for conventions, prize-givings and university graduations. It serves as the offices for the 1820 Settlers' Foundation and the Grahamstown Festival Committee. It is also the hub of the annual festival.
It was badly damaged by fire in 1996 and after being rebuilt was renamed the Guy Butler Theatre
Boltt J. Fire damage to the 1820 Settlers' National Monument. Grahamstown Foundation Media Office, April, 1996.
Butler G. 1820 Settlers Monument Neville, T. More lasting than bronze: a story of 1820 Settlers.
For more information
the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Arts_Festival
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