Open-air theatre

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This is sometimes written Open Air theatre

Open-air theatre as concept


See See also Arena and Stadium


See See also Amphitheatre and Stadium

Found-space theatre


A modern stadium (plural stadiums or stadia) is a place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event. This may at times be used for festivals, pageants and other large scale theatrical events. (see

See also Arena and Amphitheatre

Street Theatre

Open-air theatres in South Africa

Happy Valley Open-air Theatre, Humewood, Port Elizabeth.

Before the construction of the open-air theatres, bands, such as the band of Prince Alfred's Guard would entertain beach-goers, first loosely seated with spectators sitting around in an informal manner and then with the band seated in an enclosure surrounded by a low fence.

An open-air theatre was later constructed in Happy Valley.

The theatre, built in 1938, was known as Happy Valley Theatre, and consisted of a raised covered stage with chairs arranged on the grass.

On January 6, 1938, Jock Duff and his Vaudevillians started their nightly run at the Happy Valley Theatre. In the event of bad weather, the show was moved to the nearby Humewood Cafe which had a restaurant/theatre inside known as the Lido during the Second World War years. It was later renamed the Dolorico Cafe. In the 1960s the venue was known as the Palm Grove. The building was demolished after the 1968 flood.

January 16, 1938: A "Grand Special Concert" was staged starring vocalists Mr I B Shaw, Miss Nellie Daly and Mr Arthur Bevan (The Great Comic). The musical director was Herr H Schneider. The show included songs such as Jolly Fellows Waltz by Robert Vollstedt, The Right o' the Line by G O Walker, A Happy Song by Tereses del Riego and While old times rolls gaily on by Hutton.

The Happy Valley Theatre was used in the afternoons for free Punch and Judy shows.


The Happy Valley Amphitheatre, Humewood, Port Elizabeth

The the Happy Valley Amphitheatre, was constructed under the supervision of John Shelton after the devastating flood of September 1968 during which Happy Valley was totally destroyed.

In February 1971, the Happy Valley Amphitheatre opened with the newly formed Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival's production of The Merchant of Venice. Produced by and starring Leslie French as Shylock, it was staged to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Republic of South Africa.

Starring: Reg Hicks (The Duke of Venice), Wilhelm van der Nest (The Prince of Morocco), Rocky Mann and Paul Mann (Attendants to the Prince of Morocco), Derek Scarr (Prince of Arragon), Philip Jackson (Antonio), Jeremy Baylis (Bassanio), Philip Godawa (Solanio), Roy Williams (Gratiano), Neil Graer (Salarino), Trevor Hicks (Lorenzo), Leslie French (Shylock), Avery Dorward (Tubal), Bruce Sanderson (Launcelot Gobbo), Alfred Porter (Old Gobbo), Michael Bateson (Leonardo), Ronald Hicks (Balthasar), Dawson Whitehead (Stephano), Helen Mann (Portia), Helen St C Wilkins (Nerissia), Margaret Gillmore (Jessica).

Lords, Ladies, Servants and other Attendants: Michael Bateson, Dawson Whitehead, Lenel van den Berg, Ronald Hicks, Dennis Slattery, Colleen Channon, Maeve o'Regan, Yvonne Howell, Claudine Johnson, Sue Donald and Maureen Huber.

Elaine Bateson (Assistant to Producer), John Shelton (Technical Consultant), Waldie Bartie (Stage Manager), Yvonne Howell (Choreography), Edith Porter (Wardrobe), Evelyn Barnes (Makeup), Billy Fletcher (Lighting), Helen Wilkens (Production Secretary), Leslie French (Costumes and Settings).

The Happy Valley Amphitheatre was only used for one production as it was found the damp sea air and wind made conditions very unpleasant.

In 1972 the Shakespearean Festival was given a new venue in St George's Park which was named Mannville after Bruce and Helen Mann. The first production staged there was A Midsummer Night's Dream produced by Leslie French.

King's Beach Amphitheatre - Humewood, Port Elizabeth.

This entertainment complex was built in the 1960s and consisted of the amphitheatre with a raised stage, kiddies paddling pool, a miniature train, ablution facilities, change rooms and a cafe. The sea air took its toll on the buildings and the complex was eventually demolished in ????.

The stage was used for many free functions, especially during the festive season, and also for the Miss Port Elizabeth competition.


Found-space theatre


St George's Park Swimming Pool.

In 1938 Taubie Kushlick produced William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on and around the swimming pool. Oberon and his court made merry with the revels of Puck and the Fairies. The Mechanicals played their music on a raft floating on the water and fears were expressed that it would capsize, but fortunately, this never happened.

Street theatre

Theatres in the park

Mannville Open-air Theatre

Founded in 1971 in St George's Park, Port Elizabeth.

See Mannville Open-air Theatre

Maynardville Open-air Theatre

Founded in 1950 in Maynardville Park, Wynberg, Cape Town.

See Maynardville Open-air Theatre

The Open Air Theatre, Durban

Open Air Theatre Durban Botanic Gardens Durban, 02 South Africa

Oude Libertas Theatre, Stellenbosch

Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre, Durban


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