Good Hope Theatre

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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 Good Hope Masonic Lodge was a lodge in Cape Town in the 19th century. Also known as the Good Hope Lodge, or in Dutch form as the Goede Hoop Masonic Lodge or the Goede Hoop Lodge.

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)

The Exhibition Hall, Cape Town

The Exhibition Hall was a huge barn-like structure made from wood and corrugated iron, constructed in 1875 in the Good Hope Lodge Gardens. Also referred to as the Good Hope Exhibition Hall and Theatre, it was and was at times used as a venue for opera and musical presentations. Best remembered perhaps for the Italian operas performed by Signor Carli’s Opera Company, of which Carli was the impressario.

The hall burnt down totally in 1892.

The Exhibition Theatre or Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town(1875-1892)

The full name was apparently the Good Hope Exhibition Hall and Theatre. Likewise situated in the Good Hope Gardens, it seems to be a linked theatrical venue which evolved from the Exhibition Hall, and was referred to variously as the Good Hope Exhibition Hall and Theatre, the Good Hope Theatre, the Good Hope Hall or Goede Hoop Saal. With the hall, the theatre must have 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 and used to a great extent by the Wheeler Company, which experienced 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.

It was also used by other companies such as Door Yver Bloeit de Kunst (1897) and a Gaiety Company 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.


F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.

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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