State Theatre

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The idea of a State Theatre

A National Theatre and State Theatre as concepts

The notion of a "national" or "state" theatre is an old one, and can have many meanings, from the notion of a specific building to a broad concept of state funded theatre. However the central idea has always been to obtain state funding and support for the professional theatre in a country, and that such a theatre would be an expression of the artistic and cultural soul and achievements of that country, state and/or nation.

The concept of a National Theatre or State Theatre in South Africa

The notion of a "national" or "state" theatre for South Africa also comes quite a way. Some of the ideas were visionary and grandiose (including theatre schools, orchestras, drama, ballet, opera and other companies, theatres in every town, and the like). However the central idea has always been to obtain state funding and support for the professional theatre. The interpretation of the notions nation and state though, have been singular in South Africa, over the 20th century.

So, though State Theatre refers to the national state-funded theatre of the country in general, in South Africa the term State Theatre has been specifically attached to the theatre built in Pretoria. Colloquially simply referred to as the State Theatre, it was originally called the State Theatre Pretoria, and since 1995 the South African State Theatre. ,

The State Theatre in Pretoria



The venues

The State Theatre complex operates and manages six world class theatres which with seating capacities range from 120 to 1300 seats.

The Arena

The Arena, the complex's third largest theatre, can double as the main opera rehearsal hall.

There is no set seating in the Arena except for the 88seats on the gallery. Movable and collapsible seating units can provide a further 200 seats for patrons.Fully equipped computerised lighting and sound control rooms form part of this highly sophisticated theatre.

The Opera House

This is the largest of six theatres, seating 1,300 patrons on three levels including a balcony. It has an orchestra pit that can accommodate up to 60 musicians. The size of the orchestra pit can vary by adjusting the back wall of the pit.

The seating has been arranged to have excellent views of the stage from any vantage point. Continental style seating has been adopted, which means there are two entrance/exit doors for every four rows of seats to facilitate the entrance and exit of patrons.


A venue which was opened at the State Theatre in March 1984 for experimental work. Their first production was Graffiti 84 in 1984.


Both the theatre and bar area of the Rendezvous has recently been revamped. The new modern interior contributes to the venue being excellent for hosting cabarets, jazz recitals, small and one-man shows. It is also and exellent venue for private functions and presentations

The theatre has seating for 260 patrons. It is situated off the car park on the upper level.

The Drama

The Drama Theatre with continental style seating for 640 on one level. An orchestra pit, which can accommodate up to 40 musicians, also makes it a suitable venue for smaller opera or musical productions.

It has three foyer levels. Ground floor foyer with an Art Gallery and conference facility; a main foyer with refreshment centres and a balcony mezzanine.



For more information

See also National Theatre and PACT

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