Library Theatre

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There is a general use of the term Library Theatre, and then there are a few venues in Libraries, referred to as Library Theatre.

Library Theatre as a concept

Library Theatre in the Cape Province

A subsection of the Cape branch of the National Theatre Organisation, founded by Laurie van der Merwe. ***

See National Theatre Organisation

Library Theatre or Little Theatre, Johannesburg

Its official name of this Johannesburg theatre was apparently the Little Theatre (or "Kleinteater"), but it became known as the Library Theatre (or Biblioteekteater in Afrikaans) since it was incorporated into the new Library-complex completed 1936. Used by the Johannesburg Repertory Society (Johannesburg REPS) as its venue from 1936 until 1941, and again on a part-time basis between 1945 and 1950?*. It is described by Percy Tucker as a “miserable apology for a theatre”, but it nevertheless provided a venue where work could be done in a time when venues were scarce. Shows seen there include ** The Library Theatre. Theatre situated in the Johannesburg Public Library. Referred to by Percy Tucker as a miserable apology for a theatre. (Tucker, 1997: 17) Love on the Dole was directed by Taubie Kushlick in 1946 and brought here after an extended run in Benoni. Jean Cocteau’s The Eagle Has Two Heads was performed here in 1949 starring Taubie Kushlick and Leon Gluckman, with Percy Tucker working backstage. Leon Gluckman staged the revue Xmas Box at the Library towards the end of 1949. Herbert Kretzmer composed five of the songs and cast included Marjorie Gordon and Johann Nell. Taubie Kushlick produced and directed Graham Greene’s play, The Living Room, at the Library starring Anne McMenamin in 1955. Margaret Inglis produced and co-starred in Love in Idleness with John Hussey at the Library in 1955. JAATS secured the rights to premiere the poet and playwright Uys Krige’s Die Goue Ring for their Festival production at the Library in 1956. The National Theatre did Shaw’s Candida for their Festival production at the Library in 1956 starring Margaret Inglis in the title role. Their Afrikaans arm staged Dirk Opperman’s Periandros van Korinthe, directed by Anna Neethling-Pohl. and a translation of Ferenc Molnar’s The Play’s the Thing (Gekonkel in die Nag), also directed by Neethling-Pohl, and also staged here for the Festival. Children’s Theatre staged Mango Leaf Magic for young audiences as their Festival production at the Library in 1956. Taubie Kushlick’s 1956 Christmans show, Listen to the Wind, was a children’s show for all ages. Starring Joyce Grant, Elizabeth Meyer, Brian Proudfoot, June Hern, Maureen Adair and Philip Birkinshaw, with sets by Pamela Lewis and staged at the Library Theatre. Cecil Williams’ production of The Strong Are Lonely was staged here in June 1957. The Company of Three presented the hard-hitting American drama, A Hatful of Rain, with Stuart Brown directing Marjorie Gordon, Ivan Berold and Jenny Gratus at the Library in 1957. Cecil Williams failed to draw audiences with Jean-Paul Sartre’s double bill, The Vicious Circle and The Respectable Prostitute at the Library in 1957. An anonymous author, later revealed to be the Rand Daily Mail theatre critic Lewis Sowden, wrote The Kimberley Train, which exposed the racist attitude of South African society. It was directed by Cecil Williams, and staged at the Library in 1958. Ruth Oppenheim directed German playwright Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening at the Library in 1960. She also directed A State of Innocence, written by Clive Hirschhorn and starring Marjorie Gordon and Johann Nell at the Library in 1960. Margaret Inglis and Robert Langford founded a new company circa 1962. Their first production was a revival of Gaslight at the Library in 1962. In July 1965 Children’s Theatre staged James Ambrose Brown’s The Three Wishes at the Library Theatre which proved to be their last production. Ian Bernhardt’s production of Athol Fugard’s Hello and Goodbye, starring Fugard and Molly Seftel was staged at the Library in 1965. The Gilbert and Sullivan spoof called An Evening with Goldberg and Solomon was staged here in December 1967.


Percy Tucker, 1997; P.J Du Toit, 1988 [TH, JH]

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