Playhouse Theatre

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Playhouses and Playhouse Theatres

Over the years a number of theatres and cinemas have used the term Playhouse or Playhouse Theatre as their name (or part of it).

The Playhouse Theatre, Cape Town

The original name of De Hollandsche Kerk Zaal ("Dutch Church Hall"), a church hall built on Kerkplein, Cape Town in 18** , was bought/rented by ** in 19** and renamed the Playhouse Theatre. In 1916 it became the Afrikaanse Koffiehuis. ** Originally built in 18** as the Hollandsche Kerk Zaal ("Dutch Church Hall") on Kerkplein ("Church Square"), it was bought/rented by ** and renamed The Playhouse Theatre in 19**. An intimate venue, it was described as "cool, well lit and comfortably furnished" in a review by the Burger of 4 October 1915, though Bosman (1928) differed later, calling it "utterly unsuitable". It was used by local amateurs and professionals and performances include **, **, and Ann by ** in 1915, ***** In 1916 it became the Afrikaanse Koffiehuis, to be used as a venue for concerts, skits and performances, including the famous Koffiehuiskonserte .


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The Playhouse, Durban

The name of two theatres in Durban:

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See further the Natal Playhouse, The Playhouse and William Mitheson Timlin.


Malcolm Woolfson, 1986. The Long Road that led towards the Natal Playhouse. Durban : The Natal Performing Arts Council.)

Marilyn Martin, 1995 (Catalogue: W.M. Timlin)

The Playhouse Theatre, Johannesburg

Situated in Braamfontein, had its inaugural production in October 1960 was For Love or Money, by Adam Leslie. Michael Finlayson directed this show starring Leslie himself, Joan Blake, Olive King, and comedian Garth Meade. Leonard Schach’s production of The Aspern Papers ran here after their season at the Hofmeyr Theatre in 1960. Michael Redgrave’s adaptation of this Henry James story saw the British actress Flora Robson in the lead opposite Canadian actor Robert Beatty. In December 1960 Leonard Schach announced he had signed a two-year lease with the Playhouse. Schach’s Cockpit Players maintained a high standard at the Playhouse in 1961 with Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker with Siegfried Mynhardt, Michael McGovern and Nigel Hawthorne, and Paddy Chayefsky’s prizewinning The Tenth Man, starring the same actors. Schach did William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker here in 1961, starring Reinet Maasdorp and Fiona Fraser. Leonard Schach presented Beyond the Fringe here in 1962, starring New Zealand-born Kerry Jordan and David Beattie. Leonard Schach directed Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, followed by Tennessee Williams’s The Night of the Iguana which was staged here by the Cockpit Players in 1962. In his company of actors for these plays were Siegfried Mynhardt, Michael McGovern, Margaret Inglis, Marjorie Gordon, Diane Wilson and Kerry Jordan. This saw the end of Schach’s lease of the Playhouse, and so the end of the Cockpit Players. The use of the Playhouse dwindled until it ceased to function as a theatre a year later. Leon Gluckman and Colin Fish presented Sir Donald and Lady Wolfit (the actress Rosalind Iden) in an evening of Shakespeare at the Playhouse in 1962. Wolfit and the producers replaced the programme with Ibsen’s The Master Builder when ticket sales dwindled. Brian Brooke’s Pyjama Tops was staged here in 1963. It starred Shirley Firth and John Hayter. **** (Tucker, 1997)


Percy Tucker, 1997

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The Playhouse, Somerset West

The was founded in 1947

The Hottentots Holland Dramatic Society (HHDS) established in 1947, opened The Playhouse on 26th May 1973. Designed by Harry Hargreaves, the original building consisted of a control room, auditorium, a small foyer on the west side, the stage and dressing room. The workshop was added at a later stage and then finally the Green room.

All through this period some exciting theatre was produced and their reputation as one of the leading dramatic societies in the Peninsula was established.

Over the past 12 years, more improvements have been made to the theatre including the tarring of the parking lot, the interior redecorated, new signage and a host of other small things. The Society does not receive grants from anywhere and has to generate income from shows & hires to survive.

So here they are, in the 21st century, with the Society still intact and moving ever onwards.


The Playhouse, East London

Later known as The Alexander Playhouse it is a theatre venue in East London.

Founding, function and history

Originally built as a rehearsal venue for the Dramatic Society of East London (DRAMSOC) in 1963, eleven years after the society had been founded, it was designed by architect Bennie Shapiro and was originally called The Playhouse. Later re-named The Alexander Playhouse, after the Society's long-time chair and founding member, Lynette Alexander.

Aside from DRAMSOC utilizing the venue, the venue was used for various workshops and the Junior Dramatic Society used to meet there once every fortnight. Initially DRAMSOC rented the land on a 20-year-lease but later raised sufficient funds to buy it outright.

During the period that the Guild Theatre was closed for refurbishments, Lynette Alexander and her daughter Michele Bandenburger introduced dinner/theatre productions at the venue.

The revenue that was much needed for DRAMSOC was provided by the series of Showstoppers productions - the first of which was presented in the theatre in 1987. The venue was then able to improve on many things including an upgrade to the sound system, adding air conditioning, a dressing room, bathroom and increasing the size of the stage.

For the production of Hairspray in December 2011, DRAMSOC designed and created their own little orchestra pit, utilizing the area under the stage. In December 2012 the Alexander Playhouse celebrated DRAMSOC’s 60th anniversary with a Showstoppers Diamond Jubilee, directed by Michele Brandenburger.


Aside from the popular Showstoppers productions, DRAMSOC has staged many different types of shows at the venue, including musicals Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease and Hairspray, Valentine's cabarets, drama and comedy productions, Shakespeare and staged play readings.

The theatre also presented productions by visiting artists, and some of the first shows were Circle of Love, featuring Judy Page and her daughter Kim Callie, and Good Vibrations, directed by Themi Venturas and starring Lisa Bobbert and Aaron McIlroy. Other early cabaret artists who performed at the theatre include Kevin Feather, Elzabe Zietsman and Casper de Vries.


'A history of East London’s theatres', ShowMe (online), 1 August 2019 (

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