Baxter Theatre

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The Baxter Theatre is a theatre venue situated on the University of Cape Town campus, on Main Road Rondebosch.

Today the venue as a whole is known as the Baxter Theatre Centre while the main theatre is often referred to as the Baxter Theatre.


Designed by Jack Barnett, opened on 1 August 1977, it came into being as the result of a bequest from the late Dr W. Duncan Baxter who, in his will, bequeathed an amount of money to the University of Cape Town for the purpose of establishing a theatre which would, in the words of Dr Baxter, "develop and cultivate the arts in Cape Town and the adjacent districts". Renamed the Baxter Theatre Centre in 19**. It was initially run by John Slemon (1977-199*), followed by Rodney Philips (199*-199*, Mannie Manim (200* -2008) and Lara Foot (2009-). **

Since its opening in 1977 the complex has continued to provide a stage for all types of professional entertainment - music, drama, ballet, opera and intimate theatre. Even through the difficult years of racial segregation its doors remained open to everyone and it thrived, drawing on indigenous talent and creating a uniquely South African theatre tradition.


The Baxter Theatre Centre consists of:

The Theatre

The largest venue in the complex, with 666 seats.

In 2022 the theatre was refurbished and renamed The Pam Golding Theatre, after the founder and life president of Pam Golding Properties, as part of the company's five-year sponsorship of the Baxter Theatre.

The Concert Hall

with a fine Von Beckerath organ and seating for 638

The Studio

The intimate Studio Theatre with 172 seats. (Later renamed ther Golden Arrow Studio Theatre after its sponsor, and after that the Sanlam Studio Theatre or simply Sanlam Studio)

Restaurant and Bar

The Bookstall

The Baxter Theatre Centre has a bookstall, situated in the main foyer, which specialises in play scripts and texts that have a theatrical connection, but also stocks novels, poetry, short stories and children's books, amongst other genres. Also on sale are CDs and DVDs, as well as branded Baxter merchandise such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, peaked caps and lanyards.

There are well over 100 different titles on sale, including the scripts of several plays by Athol Fugard, and a number of other South African plays such as John Kani's Nothing But the Truth and Lara Foot Newton's Hear and Now. There are also classics such as Waiting for Godot and various Shakespeare plays, as well as other books such as Primo Time, Antony Sher's account of how Primo came to be written.

DVDs on sale include District Six, Karoo Kitaar Blues, Joe Barber and Marc Lottering's Big Stakes and Slap Chips and Hallelujah, and there is the CD of Ghoema, amongst others.


Baxter Theatre Company

Baxter Theatre Children's Company

Staff and management

The founding director was John Slemon (1977-1995), followed by Rodney Phillips (1996-1999) and Mannie Manim (2000-2009) and Lara Foot (2010-).

In 2009 the staff was as follows:

Administrative Director Stephen Jaffe Associate Producer & Planning Manager Nicolette Moses Marketing Manager Fahiem Stellenboom Production Manager Patrick Curtis Administrator and Webmaster Linda Louw Fundraising and Sponsorship Manager Johann Davis Front of House Managers Maeve Slemon, Lizette Nyathi Sales and Block Bookings Sharon Alexander, Carmen Kearns


It opened with a production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, directed by Mavis Taylor and starring Mark Baker and Roxanne Folley. Pieter Toerien staged The Deep Blue Sea, directed by Joan Kemp-Welch and starring Helen Cherry and James Faulkner in 1977. Barney Simon directed Cincinatti – Scenes from City Life starring Vanessa Cooke, Marcel van Heerden, Danny Keogh, Lesley Nott, Barrie Shah, Thoko Ntshinga, Bo Petersen, Sam Williams and Robin Smith for The Company here in1979. Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy, The Norman Conquests, separately titled Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden, was staged here in 1979. Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, directed by Donald Howarth and starring John Kani, Winston Ntshona and Pieter-Dirk Uys was staged here in 1980. Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser starring Michael Atkinson, Michael McCabe, Shelagh Holliday, Paddy Canavan, Lynne Maree and Simon Swindell and directed by Leonard Schach was staged here in November 1980. In collaboration with the Market Theatre they staged Stephen Gray’s Cold Stone Jug, based on the book by H.C.Bosman, and directed by Barney Simon in 1981. The Academy hosted the Baxter production of Seer in the Suburbs, the English translation of P.G. du Plessis’ Siener in die Suburbs starring Dale Cutts, Trudie Taljaard, Bo Petersen and Marcel van Heerden in 1981. Pieter Toerien and Shirley Firth staged their last joint production at the Intimate in September 1982 namely the Baxter Theatre production of Robert Kirby’s It’s a Boy starring Dale Cutts, Bo Petersen and James Irwin with direction by Keith Grenville. A.R.Gurney Jr’s The Dining Room starring Gordon Mullholand, Amanda Strydom, Ralph Lawson and Patricia Sanders with direction by Bobby Heaney was staged here circa 1983. Pieter Toerien presented Agnes of God starring Fiona Ramsay, Pauline Bailey and Lena Ferugia and directed by Nikolas Simmonds here in 1983 before moving to the Alhambra. Julian Mitchell’s Another Country starring Sean Taylor, Neil McCarthy, Jeremy Crutchley and John Carson, directed by Nikolas Simmonds with lighting design by Pip Marshall opened here on 17 June 1983 before this Baxter production moved to the Market with minor cast changes in July. Keith Grenville directed Anyone for Denis? starring John Lesley and Erica Rogers at the Academy in 1983. They presented The Importance of Being Oscar starring Michael Atkinson, and Aleksei Arbuzov’s Old-World starring Zoe Randall and John Carson and directed by Rosalie van der Gucht, at the Leonard Rayne in 1984. Graham Wright brought the Baxter’s production of Steven Berkoff’s Decadence starring Bo Petersen and John Maytham (replacing Fiona Ramsay and Henry Goodman who had played the roles in Cape Town) with direction by Ron Smerczak to the Wits Theatre in 1984 after it ran at the Durban Alhambra. Bobby Heaney’s production of Strindberg’s Miss Julie starring Sandra Prinsloo and John Kani originated here and went to the Market in February 1985. Robin Levetan’s Skyf starring Sean Taylor originated here before playing at Upstairs at the Market in May 1985. Steven Berkoff’s Greek, directed by Mavis Taylor and Keith Grenville’s Not About Heroes, for Volute Productions was staged here in 1986. Esther van Ryswyk’s production of Hallo en Koebaai originated here circa 1987. David Kramer and Taliep Petersen’s musical District Six – The Musical ran here for six months in 1987. They staged Every Good Boy Deserves Favour starring Ralph Lawson, Roger Dwyer and the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra in 1988. Max Collie performed here circa1988. Fred Abrahamse’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was staged at the Market through a Market-Baxter-Handspring Puppet Company collaboration in 1989. They presented Guys and Dolls over the festive season in 1990. Pieter-Dirk Uys starred in his satire An Evening with Evita Bezuidenhout during the same time. Leonard Schach’s Baxter production of Beecham was staged at the Civic’s Youth Theatre in 1993. Paul Slabolepszy’s Pale Natives was staged here in circa 1994. *** (Tucker, 1997)



See Ikhwezi Outreach Programme and Ikhwezi Theatre Festival

Play>Ground Performed Readings


Baxter Theatre Centre website at

Brian Barrow and Yvonne Williams-Short (eds.). 1988. Theatre Alive! The Baxter Story 1977-1987. Cape Town: The Baxter Theatre.

Vera de Hen 1998. Baxter 21. Cape Town: Primavera Publications.

Percy Tucker, 1997;

Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography

For more information

Go to the Baxter Theatre Centre website at

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