Good Hope Theatre
The Good Hope Theatre is one of a number of names used for what may have been three related theatrical venues in the Good Hope Lodge Gardens, Cape Town in the 19th and early 20th century. The history and relationship is not always clear from the sources
The Good Hope Masonic Lodge (1800-1875)
The lodge was built in 1800 and utilized as a popular venue for concerts. Musical concerts were held at the Good Hope Lodge Gardens on Friday evenings during the summer.
Later in the 19th century it played an important part in theatrical activities as well, when the Lodge acquired its own Exhibition Hall in 1875.
The Good Hope Exhibition Hall and Theatre (1875-1892)
In 1875 the Good Hope Masonic Lodge acquired its own Exhibition Hall, a huge barn-like structure made from wood and corrugated iron, constructed in 1875 in the Good Hope Lodge Gardens on the site of the Goede Hoop Masonic Lodge.
Officially it was named the Good Hope Exhibition Hall and Theatre, but it was referred to in theatrical circles and the public by many other names, including the Exhibition Hall, the Exhibition Theatre, the Good Hope Theatre, the Good Hope Hall or Goede Hoop Saal. The sources are unclear about the actual relationship between the "hall" and the "theatre" - whether there was an alternative, perhaps more intimate, theatrical spavce within the building, or whether the name simply reflected the range of uses for the hall.
Besides its role as a popular venue for public exhibitions, public meetings and musical events of all kinds, the hall was at times used for the presentation of larger scale productions, such as opera and musical presentations.
The hall burnt down totally in 1892.
The Good Hope Theatre (1897?-1910?)
Though also referred to as The Good Hope Hall or Goede Hoop Saal, the Good Hope Theatre does not appear to be the same venue as the former building, but most probably a new and custom built structure, erected some time in the late 1800s, probably after the destruction of the Exhibition Hall.
The venue was extensively used by the Wheeler Company, which had great successes with its musical comedies there. One of earliest performances was Charley’s Aunt (Thomas) by the Hawtrey Comedy Company under Wheeler Company management.
Other companies also used it from time to time, for example Door Yver Bloeit de Kunst did a production of there in 1897, a Gaiety Company presented musical works such as The Geisha and Kitty Grey there in 1902 (with for instance The Geisha and Kitty Grey).
Though the theatre had lost its flair by 1906 and seems to have closed as a professional venue by the end of that year, it appears to have continued as an occasional amateur venue. For example by Door Yver Bloeit de Kunst did a production of Het Geheim there in 1910.
Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg: p. 117
P.W. Laidler. 1926. The Annals of the Cape Stage. Edinburgh: William Bryce: p. 89
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