Did you know?
Cape Town's first theatre was opened in 1801 at Riebeeck Square in the city centre.
When it comes to drama, the Mother City is a real prima donna. Whether it's Shakespearean period pieces, rousing dance, razzmatazz musicals, mirthful stand-up comedy, or alternative fringe theatre, you're bound to find something to suit your taste in the theatres of Cape Town.
Shakespeare buffs must visit the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre. It stages professional productions of Shakespearean plays. Comprising a striking wooden stage set under a canopy of foliage, with a statue of the Bard of Avon himself standing sentry, Maynardville is unabashedly the quintessential African home of all things Shakespearean.
If it's a verdant Winelands Cape Town theatre setting you're after, try Spier in exquisite Stellenbosch for its open-air amphitheatre.
Undisputedly, the Artscape is the chief theatre in Cape Town. With a huge opera-house setting, seating over a thousand, a large theatre seating over 500, and two smaller sets, this colossal theatre complex offers some of the best international and local shows on the theatre circuit.
The Baxter Theatre is another one of the Cape stalwarts. Situated in the leafy suburb of Rondebosch, this theatre house hosts some of the ritziest productions on the country's theatrical calendar.
If intimacy is on your agenda, then give the Theatre on the Bay a whirl. Set in the well-heeled Camps Bay locale, it offers a theatre-dinner combo worth experiencing. The Kalk Bay Theatre is housed in a heritage-protected church in the picturesque fishing village of Kalk Bay, and enjoys a cult patronage.
For community theatre, head over to Muizenburg's Masque Theatre. This theatre offers amateur dramatic performances, giving the work of lesser-known playwrights a chance to be seen.
The 280-seater Fugard Theatre – Cape Town's latest theatre asset – is located within the Sacks Futeran building in the historic District Six, with the renovated Congregational Church Hall in Caledon Street as its entrance. It is named after Athol Fugard, South Africa's greatest playwright.
Most tickets for Cape Town theatres can be booked at the theatres, or through national ticket-seller Computicket.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)83 915 8000
Maynardville Open-Air Theatre
Unit 1 Maynardville, 20 Piers Street
R310 Lynedoch Road, Stellenbosch
Tel: +27 (0)21 809 1100
DF Malan Street, Foreshore
Tel: +27 (0)21 410 9800
Main Road, Rondebosch
Tel: +27 (0)21 685 7880
Theatre on the Bay
1a Link Street, Camps Bay
Tel: +27 (0)21 438 3301
Kalk Bay Theatre
52 Main Road, Kalk Bay
The Masque Theatre
Main Road (M4), Muizenberg
Tel: +27 (0)21 461 4554
How to get here
The fair Cape's theatres are all easily accessible by road.
Best time to visit
Theatre is an entertainment mainstay all year long, but do check the local press for visiting shows or shows with great reviews. If it's Shakespeare you're after, visit in the balmy summer months for outside amphitheatre shows.
Tours to do
Any reputable tour company will be able to advise on must-see theatre shows in all the country's main cities.
Most taxi cabs will be able to collect you and drop you at the theatre door.
What will it cost
Cost of shows differ from theatre complex to theatre complex, and sometimes are even free! Consult each theatre's website, or check with Computicket.
Length of stay
Bank on an evening, and throw in a dinner and post-show cappuccino too.
What to pack
A shawl, or jumper to cover your shoulders during showtime.
What to eat
Some of South Africa's theatre complexes come replete with restaurants and coffee shops offering meals and refreshments. At some, for instance the Barnyard chain, you can even bring your own pre-packed picnic basket.
Look out for bang-for-your-buck student productions at the acclaimed University of Cape Town – these are often free to the public.