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Covid-19 axe falls on Fugard Theatre as it announces permanent closure

Renowned playhouse forced to halt productions due to the pandemic

17 March 2021 - 13:18 By Khanyisile Ngcobo
The Fugard Theatre has announced it will be closing permanently with 'immediate effect'.
The Fugard Theatre has announced it will be closing permanently with 'immediate effect'.
Image: Shelley Christians/Sunday Times

The Covid-19 axe continues to fall on businesses in the arts and culture industry, with the Fugard Theatre its latest victim.  

On Tuesday, the theatre’s founder and benefactor Eric Abraham announced the permanent closure of the popular playhouse “with immediate effect”.

This comes a year after the theatre was forced to suspend productions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We are not persuaded it will be Covid-19 safe or financially viable to reopen as a theatre in the foreseeable future.

“The theatre will be handed back to the owner of the freehold of the building – the board of the District 6 Museum – as a working theatre and we hope they will be able to use it for the benefit of the museum and the District 6 community,” Abraham said in a statement on the theatre’s website.

Abraham ended the statement by thanking the theatre’s “extraordinary staff for all their hard work and you, our patrons, for your support over the last 10 years”.

The Fugard Theatre opened its doors in 2010 and was named after celebrated playwright Athol Fugard.

The 320-seater located in Cape Town’s District Six area has hosted iconic plays, including West Side Story, Cabaret, Shakespeare In Love and Kunene and the King

Many fans of the theatre have taken to social media to express their shock and sadness about the closure of the theatre, including celebrated musician Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, actress Masasa Mbangeni and radio personality Eusebius McKaiser.

Mabuse urged arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa not to “sit and do nothing” as criticism mounts against the minister over the department’s inaction to the pandemic’s impact on the industry.

The theatre said it is “not available for comments at this time” when Sunday Times Lifestyle reached out to them.