The Alexander Theatre

36 Stiemens Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

About

Named after the late talented actress, director, teacher of speech and drama and founder of the Johannesburg Repertory Players (JRP) Muriel Alexander, The Alexander Theatre first opened its doors in 1951.

The idea for the Theatre was born in 1929 by the JRP who dreamed of who dreamed of having their own space to unleash and share their creative energies. It took 22 years however before this dream could be realized as R100,000.00 (an excessive amount in those days) was required to build the Theatre. These 22 years were spent raising funds through life memberships, donations and bonds and as a result R35, 000.00 was raised through life memberships and donations from the public; R20,000.00 came from the Johannesburg Municipality; R10, 000.00 from the Department of Education, Arts and Science; and the balance came from a bond.

Once it opened, it played host to a myriad of productions and plays ranging from English to Afrikaans; classics to moderns from the likes of Tennessee Williams to Arthur Miller. And of course it saw a few familiar faces (Patrick Mynhardt) gracing it's stage. In the years following it's opening, the Theatre hosted plays, drama's and musicals such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (which was seen for the first time in Johannesburg), West Side Story, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Cry the Beloved Country€the list goes on and on€

Unfortunately, the increasing fears about crime and grime saw less and less people commuting to the inner city - which greatly affected the attendance of shows. This proved to be the demise of the Theatre as it became increasingly difficult to operate without a regular strong audience base; and as a result had to shut down in 1997 - the last stage production was Ipi Ntombi (the story of a mine worker told in song and dance).

Thankfully, the area started to change which led to the theatre's rebirth.

The man with the plan to inject life back into the Alex is property developer Adam Levy. It was he who bought the Alex andheaded up the renovation that has put The Alex back on the map - in a big way. The re-vamping was done in such a way so as topreserve as much of the original design as possible. This approach unearthed a few unexpected gems; one of which is the nowsignature black and white vinyl checkered floor that was literally hidden under the old carpets all these years. The classy and stylish new make-over is certainly one of the reasons for the theatre's newfound popularity.

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