Final curtain for centre

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

The theatre community has been dealt a severe blow.

The Actors' Centre, which featured developmental theatre at the Civic Theatre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, is closing down.

The training institution, which provided a platform for alternative theatre, has been forced to close because its funds have dried up.

It filled a vital and unique role for seven years.

The centre was funded mainly by donations and sponsorships. It was founded by acclaimed director and actress Dorothy Ann Gould in 2001.

Under her guidance the centre created bridges between developing artists and professionals.

Actors and other arts practitioners could experiment in a safe environment, showcasing their work to audiences and getting feedback, all geared to education and and sharpening of skills.

Steven Feinstein, who took over as artistic director in March 2007, says: "We have worked hard to maintain the standard of classes that were historically on offer at affordable rates.

"We kept the platform for new work open to those who wanted a stage on which to experiment with their works.

"We staged readings, worked with community theatre groups and met the needs of individuals searching for a creative home they could call their own.

"We offered and coordinated special projects in order to reach an ever growing and important number of artists, not to mention their audiences.

"The battle to gain funding is constant, relentless and unforgiving and has been an area of primary concern since the centre first opened its doors.

" The industry has lost a limb, a limb that was so much more than a school or training organisation."

Bernard Jay, the Civic Theatre's chief executive, says: "It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to the centre.

"Actors are the very soul of any theatre building and the existence of the centre has provided a constant source of joy and gratification over the years.

We have admired the concept, the progress, the passion and the success of the centre in so many ways and there is no doubt in my mind that our theatre has benefited strongly from it."

Members will attend free classes this month to offer a sense of closure.

The centre will close its doors at the end of the month. There will be a final run of Doctor Faustus, directed by Feinstein, with Nick Boraine in the title role from September 1 to 13.