Covid-19 axe falls on Fugard Theatre as it announces permanent closure
Renowned playhouse forced to halt productions due to the pandemic
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.
The Fugard Theatre goes dark forever today . My heart breaks for all the people she employed & took care of . A country without art is soulless but keep quiet while one by one the theatres go dark 💔💔💔 you will see— Bhut’ Masasa (@MsMasasa) March 17, 2021
No @NathiMthethwaSA u cannot sit and do nothing a theatre I never played in 🤷♂️— Hotstix (@siphohotstix) March 17, 2021
After a year of Covid closure it is with great regret and sadness that I have to confirm that The Fugard Theatre will close permanently with immediate effect. Eric Abraham.. Founder 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/4pyNRFxaKy
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.