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August 28, 2012

Masque Theatre brings drama to Muizenberg

The marvellous Masque Theatre brings entertainment to Muizenberg. Photo courtesy Coleen van Staden

The marvellous Masque Theatre has been bringing drama and the arts to the magical shores of Muizenberg for more than 50 years but what exactly inspired the creation of this theatrical venue?

In 1957, local Muizenberg attorney, Bertie Stern, chairman of the South Peninsula Dramatic Society purchased the land adjacent to the False Bay Station, Muizenberg, with a view to converting the derelict building with no roof and four walls (previously a bowling alley), into a modern, multi-racial theatre.

Battling the council and naysayers, Bertie persisted for two years, forming the Masque Theatre Club to allow for multi-racial attendance, and overcame every obstacle placed in his way. The Masque Theatre Players combined the best players of all races from both amateur and professional theatre who were interested in the creation of a group with a permanent repertoire.

Some well-known performers of the early days included, among others, Alec Bell, Zoe Randall, Yvonne Bryceland, Percy Sieff, Frank Lazarus and more recently (1997), the original Kat and the Kings show before its successful launch on the West End.

That same year (1997) disaster struck and the Masque Theatre was gutted by a fire. Led by the acting chairperson of the Masque management board, Celia Musikanth, a dedicated team of Masque Theatre members, resident dramatic societies and community members from all over the peninsula, rallied, worked, performed and raised funds to get the Masque Theatre building fund going and growing. Many donations were regularly made - small, medium and large - but the most phenomenal and generous donation came from the late Joan St. Leger Lindbergh who simply said: "I am in for a million", and was!

The theatre was re-built and two years later re-opened its doors. It is now a first-class venue, seating 174, hosting a variety of performing arts, (musicals, dramas, dance, etc.), seminars, presentations, film shows and children's theatre and drama school.

Recent shows include Alan Ayckbourn's comedy, Season’s Greetings.

Alan Ayckbourn's comedy, Season's Greetings, at the Masque Theatre, Muizenberg, June 2012. Featured are Barrie Howard, as Uncle Bernard and his puppets, Angela Lee-Wright as Pattie and Shaun Browne as Uncle Harvey. The show was directed by Coleen van Staden for the Masque Theatre.

A mix of amateur and professional shows are on offer throughout the year and young performers continue to use this popular and well-loved theatre as a springboard for their careers.

For more information about the Masque Theatre, contact  +27 (0)21 788 6999 or visit www.masquetheatre.co.za.

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