Cape Performing Arts Board

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The Cape Performing Arts Board (Afrikaans: Kaaplandse Raad vir die Uitvoerende Kunste) was one of the four state-funded performing arts councils instituted in 1963 to replace the old National Theatre Organization (NTO). Best known between 1963 and 1998 by its acronym: CAPAB (KRUIK in Afrikaans).

In 1999 CAPAB was restructured and renamed Artscape, as was the theatre centre they were housed in (the Nico Malan Theatre centre).

(For more on the history after 1999, see the entry on Artscape)


In 1961 the National Theatre Organisation was disbanded and replaced by four provincial performing arts councils. In Cape Town the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) was instituted in 1962 with the aim to promote the performing arts in the Cape Province and South Arica. The arts councils received sufficient government subsidies to fund various art forms as well as the operational requirements of the theatre facilities. Staff could be taken into permanent employment.

Since 1994 government policy changed dramatically. All performing arts boards were transformed to managers of playhouses and the various arts companies had to become independent. The CAPAB Drama Department staged its last production in May 1997 with a final performance of David Mowat’s The Guise, a play which has as its theme the survival of the theatre.

The new organization, Artscape, was launched on 27 March 1999 to replace CAPAB and the Nico Malan Theatre Complex was renamed the Artscape Theatre Centre.


Theatres and other facilities

Nico Malan Theatre Centre

The Nico Malan Theatre Centre was opened on 19 May 1971 , to be programmed and managed by Cape Performing Arts Board as a production house with four arts companies – orchestra, opera, ballet and drama. These companies had full-time artistes, technical and administrative staff.

In line with the new South African the political dispensation and the concurrent changes, the complex was renamed the Artscape Theatre Centre in March 2001.

Port Elizabeth Opera House

Maynardville Open-air Theatre

The Arena

Later a third venue, the Arena, was built on the side stage of the Drama, originally as a space to house the work of CAPAB's experimental company, the Theatre Laboratory.

Nico Malan Rehearsal Room

The companies

The Theatre Laboratory

Also referred to as the CAPAB Theatre Laboratory or The Lab

"One of the prime aims of Theatre Laboratory, presented by CAPAB Drama, is to experiment with different forms of production and staging. It emphasises the actor/spectator relationship. Shedding many of the trappings of conventional theatre, and brings the actor back to basics in order to evaluate his work. The group, founded early in 1971, will present productions in low key ; in direct contrast to, but in association with the high key productions at the Nico Malan Theatre. Acceptance of this theatre (stripped of all that is not essential to it) will, we think, reveal to the actor and the spectator the backbone of the medium and the riches which lie at the nature of the art of acting. We are in too early a state of development of theatre in this country to say how this might develop or in what direction. The first project from Theatre Laboratory was Orestes by Athol Fugard. This experiment (featuring Yvonne Bryceland, Wilson Dunster and Val Donald) evoked varied and vivid comment from critics and audiences alike. The second project was Strindberg Without Tears." (Programme notes,Strindberg Without Tears)


A bi-monthly newsletter sent to patrons and the media.


CAPE PERFORMING ARTS BOARD (CAPAB) (Afrikaans: Kaaplandse Raad vir die Uitvoerende Kunste - KRUIK). Founded in 1963, after the dissolving of the National Theatre Organization, with Danie van Eeden*?? as its first director. (He was followed consecutively by Gé Korsten, George Loopuyt and Michael Maas.) Registered as a society not for gain, it was headed by a policy-making council chaired by the provincial administrator and representative of all interested parties, including the province, the city municipality of Cape Town, the department of national education, the business sector as well as representatives of the various performing art forms. Their function was to provide provide artists and artisans with a secure career option, to develop and promote drama, ballet, music and opera by offering audiences in the province with regular professional productions. Its first productions were Becket (Anouilh) and Hedda Gabler (Ibsen, in Afrikaans) in the Hofmeyr Theatre in November 1963. Their first opera (The Bartered Bride by Smetana) was done on 8 February 1965 in the Alhambra Theatre. Their first indigenous in play Afrikaans was *** in 196*, while the first indigenous English play was The Year of the Locust by James Ambrose Brown (1966).

Initially renting theatres in the various cities, CAPAB purchased the Opera House in Port Elizabeth in 1967, and refurbished it for use as a base for their work in the Eastern Cape. In 1971 they opened a new playhouse, the Nico Malan Theatre Complex in Cape Town, with a performance of the ballet Sylvia (after the original opening production, Christine, commissioned from the Afrikaans playwright bartho Smit, had been banned) followed by Dieter Reible's controversial production of an Afrikaans Othello. The opening of this theatre "for whites only" - despite the protests of artists, critics and many of the population - was to be one of the most troublesome issues for the council over the next twenty years, as it was actively boycotted by the Cape non-white population as well as their supporters. It was belatedly opened for all on 21 February 1975, but this had little effect on the boycott, which lasted for many more years.

The first head of drama was the long serving Pieter Fourie, followed by Johan Esterhuizen in 19**, and later by***. CAPAB also had a very sucessful youth company, founded to do educational work and originally led by Robin Malan*? Followed over the years by i.a. Eileen Thorns, ** and Ivan Abrahams and. . the CAPAB:Cape Provincial Arts Board. . Together with PACT and the Phoenix Players, they staged Athol Fugard’s Boesman and Lena and People are Living There, both directed by Fugard and starring Yvonne Bryceland and Glynn Day in 1970. Peter Curtis and Pieter Fourie ran this drama company circa 1971. They staged their plays at the old Hofmeyr Theatre. They acquired their own theatre and opera house in 1971 in the form of the Nico Malan. The Nico’s first performance infront of an integrated audience, the Academy Theatres’ Who Saw Him Die took place on 21 February 1975. Their production of Dalene Matthee’s Fiela se Kind starring Shaleen Surtie-Richards was staged at the Nico Malan in 1986. Basil Rubin in association with CAPAB staged William Luce’s Zelda at the Adcock-Ingram in August 1987. Together with Volute Productions they staged Robert Hewett’s Gulls which Keith Grenville directed in 1987. Together with the other three performing arts councils they staged The Great Walt for their Christmas production in 1987 and Singin’ in the Rain for their Christmas production in 1988. They staged My Fair Lady in 1989/90. They presented Michael Drinn’s The Phantom of the Opera in 1990. Together with PACT, the Johannesburg Civic Theatre Association and NAPAC they presented A Chorus Line in 1992. Together with NAPAC and PACOFS they presented Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! in 1993. **** (Tucker, 1997) CAPE PERFORMING ARTS BOARD (CAPAB) (****-****). Cape Town. Chris Swart was the director (from 19** to 19**), Peter Curtis the artistic director of English drama(from 19** to 19**) and Pieter Fourie the artistic director of Afrikaans drama (from 19** to 19**).


Strindberg Without Tears programme notes

SACD 1973, 1974

Tucker, 1997

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