African Theatres Trust

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The African Theatres Trust was a theatrical importing and distributing agency and management company founded by I.W. Schlesinger and A.H. Stodel (Harry Stodel).

Known colloquially as the ATT or The Trust.


Africa's Amalgamated Theatres had been established in 1911 and the Empire Theatres Company (Empire Theatres Company (South Africa) Ltd) by Edgar Hyman in 1912.

In 1913 Isidore W. Schlesinger bought both these companies, as well as several other companies, thereby forming the African Theatres Trust Ltd on 10 April 1913, with A.H. Stodel (Harry Stodel) as partner. The aim was to set up a theatre circuit in South Africa and then import international shows to tour the country.

Schlesinger also formed a film importing and distributing agency called African Films Trust and African Film Productions Ltd (1915), with a studio in Killarney, Johannesburg, thus creating a huge and influential empire that would dominate professional theatre and film in the country for many years under the combined name of African Consolidated Theatres (ACT).


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.): p. 435.

"A History of the South African Film Industry timeline" 1895-2003, South African History Online [1]

"Chapter 4 - Another Victory for Trade Unionism: The 1918 Cape Town Musicians’ Strike", South African History Online[2]

Percy Tucker. 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

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