Stable Theatre

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The name Stable Theatre is used for two closely linked institutions, namely as a shorthand name for The Stable Theatre Company and for the three venues which the company used as a base and appeared in over the years.

The Stable Theatre Company

This was the first independent black theatre company in South Africa, founded by the late Kessie Govender who was a well-known multi-award winning Durban playwright, director and actor.

Govender launched his Stable Theatre Company with his first play Stable Expense which was produced in the mid-70's, a time when Indians were being relocated to low cost housing in Chatsworth from areas around Durban which had been rezoned for whites only. In 1979 Kessie Govender created and presented his well-known Working Class Hero with the company.

The Stable Theatre

The name given to the venues used by Kessie Govender and his Stable Theatre Company over the years.

The history of the venue

The original location was on Queen Street, then West Street and finally in a former disused electrical warehouse in Queen Street, Durban, opposite the bus terminal and situated between Alice Street (now Johannes Nkosi Street) and the railway lines that run parallel to it. Kessie Govender procured in the early 1990s and converted it into the Stable Theatre, where it still is.

Kessie moved in with his Stable Theatre Company to create a new community art centre and, although the Durban Municipality at the time continually tried to remove him and his organisation from the venue, he claimed squatters' rights and won his case.

Over the years, Stable Theatre has had a chequered history – moving from a thriving community arts centre to a neglected, poorly-run space with a bad reputation. However, it has continued to survive, like the phoenix which is part of the Indian culture that reflects its origins.

The Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism took the Stable Theatre under its wing three years ago and set in motion funding to run the venue. A hand-picked interim management committee comprising Mr Bongumusa Mtshali (Chairman), Mr Ramoll Bugwandeen, Ms Thuli Dumakude and Ms Caroline Smart was tasked with getting the centre back on its feet again.

Stable Theatre is now a Section 21 company. With the exception of Mr Mtshali who now heads the Department of Arts & Culture KZN: Eastern Region, the members of the interim management committee now serve on the board of directors along with Mr Musawenkosi Lembede, Ms Pearl Dwayisa, Ms Lindiwe Rakharebe and Ms Brenda Toko.

New administrative and financial systems are in place and the Stable Theatre is on track to reclaim its rightful place as a vibrant theatre venue in the city centre that is open to one and all

See also Kessie Govender

Productions in the Stable Theatre

(2014) Mine Boy (Lionel Abrahams/ Roel Twijnstra and Jerry Pooe)


Loren Kruger, 1999: 148

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

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