John Kani laments closure of The Fugard Theatre: 'Another icon has fallen'
“Another icon has fallen to Covid-19.”
This is how acclaimed South African actor John Kani has described the news of the closure of Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre.
The theatre is closing its doors permanently with immediate effect, after being shut for a full year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many performing arts institutions have experienced significant economic setbacks in the past year due to the lockdown regulations and this has resulted in closures of several popular theatre houses.
The founder of the 320-seater theatre, located in the historic Sacks Futeran building in Cape Town’s District Six, said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday it would not be safe health-wise or financially viable to reopen in the foreseeable future.
“The theatre will be handed back to the owner of the freehold of the building – the board of The District 6 Museum – as a working theatre and we hope that they will be able to use it for the benefit of the Museum and the District 6 community,” founder, producer and benefactor Eric Abraham said.
He thanked the theatre staff for all their hard work as well as patrons for their support of the Fugard Theatre over the last 10 years.
On social media, many people have come out and shared just how devastating and heartbreaking they have found the news that the theatre is closing.
Kani, along with other performers and also “Moffie” director Oliver Hermanus shared their feelings over the loss of the Fugard:
Sad news. Another icon has fallen to Covid19. The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town has closed its doors for ever. It was in this theatre that my new play Kunene and the King had its South African premier in 2019. The lights are out, the curtain has fallen and no more applause.— JohnKani (@JohnKani2) March 17, 2021
We didn’t know it at the time but MOFFIE would turn out to be the last ever piece of work to premiere at The Fugard.— Oliver Hermanus (@OliverHermanus) March 17, 2021
I can’t get over the closing of The Fugard 😭💔— Siphokazi Jonas (@Siphokazi_J) March 17, 2021
The Fugard Theatre permanently closing its doors is not the heartbreak I needed to start my day.— Siyabonga Beyile (@SiyaBeyile) March 17, 2021
Just saw that The Fugard was closing permanently & I can’t express how devastating this is —particularly because the theatre holds so many wonderful memories. It’s been the home to world-class performances by our local theatre scene & one of the most vibrant places in the city💔— Priyanka 💁🏽♀️ (@Priyanka101) March 17, 2021
Sad to hear about the permanent closure of The Fugard Theatre (@TheFugard). Thank you for the queer theatrical content you've been a home to. Kinky Boots and The Rocky Horror Picture Show are some of my all-time favorites thanks to your wonderful showings. You will be missed 💔— 𝕕𝕒𝕟 𝕙𝕒𝕣𝕥 (@DanPMHart) March 17, 2021
Wow, the Fugard Theatre is no more 💔- I don’t think people realise how many amazing performance venues have been lost in CPT over the years. Heck, we dedicated our 1st Seba Kaapstad album to a beautiful venue we lost called “Tagore’s”. So sad.— ZOË MODIGA (@Zoe_Modiga) March 17, 2021
I still cry about this production! I was obsessed with The Fugard Theatre and all I wanted was to be on that stage. When...Posted by Loren Loubser onWednesday, 17 March 2021
The closing of the Fugard is such an inditement on the ANC. The theatre relief fund was squandered and mismanaged....Posted by Andre Schwartz onWednesday, 17 March 2021