Performing arts venues that are, in themselves, artistic by design are very rare. It’s a combination that offers an entirely different meaning of art for art’s sake and is best understood if viewed and visited as part of an audience. Come to the South African State Theatre and be moved – in more ways than one ...

Did you know?

Designed by architects Hans and Roelf Botha, the State Theatre in Pretoria was once the largest reception venue of performing arts in the southern hemisphere.

Surrounded by high-rises and the capital’s hustle and bustle, the South African State Theatre in Pretoria is not just devoted to the promotion of the performing arts, but is itself a major drawcard for tourists, thanks to its architectural splendour.

Occupying an entire block in the city centre, the State, as it’s commonly known, consists of five theatres, a large public square embracing pedestrian patronage, restaurants and a coffee shop.

More importantly, since staging its first show in 1981, the State Theatre in Pretoria has featured a wide range of productions including opera, ballet, musicals, drama, cabaret and children’s theatre.

In 2006, the South African State Theatre affirmed its position as the premier venue for large-scale productions when its production of Swan Lake by the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre drew packed houses.

As one of the principal receiving houses for ballet performances on the sub-continent, opening night of Swan Lake at the State played out like a who’s who of people from powerful sectors of sub-Saharan society.

But it’s not the only headline-making show that the State Theatre has catered for. Many curtains have been lifted here on world-class productions including Cats, Phantom of the Opera, The Sound of Music, and South Africa’s own Sarafina!, a musical tour de force by impresario Mbongeni Ngema.

Situated in a city known for its spacious performing arts venues, the State Theatre is unrivalled not only by any other dance theatre in Pretoria or any other city in Africa, but can hold its own against the best that the biggest has to offer, including the Sydney Opera House.

Its many spacious theatres, nooks, crannies and maze of connecting corridors offer audiences much more than a night of performing art.

A dramatic edifice in itself, going to the State Theatre in Pretoria is an experience that stays with people long after the show’s curtain has come down.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

State Theatre
320 Pretorius Street (for parking); 301 Church Street (physical address)
Tel: +27 (0)12 392 4000

Around the area

Pretoria has many museums, live music venues, restaurants, and even a world class zoo. Take your pick.

Get around

Take a cab, try Rose Taxi's in Johannesburg, or ask your hotel or B&B to arrange transport for you.

What will it cost

Check the price with the ticketing agent.

Length of stay

An evening should do it.

What to pack

A shawl, or a jumper to cover your shoulders.

Where to stay

Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs are plentiful in the major centres.

What to eat

Restaurants and eateries are never more than a stone's throw away.

What's happening

Check with national ticket tout, Computicket. Or check your local newspaper for listings.

Related articles