From Shakespeare and modern theatre classics to family-friendly musicals, edgy and alternative performance art and intimate one-person plays, Joburg's theatres offer it all. Here’s our guide to the city's best performance spaces.
THEATRE FOR KIDS
National Children’s Theatre
Best for: Entertaining young children indoors and outdoors (they have an open-air stage)
Through a kaleidoscope of lively and engaging performances, original and enlightening musicals, and interactive after-school programmes, National Children’s Theatre’s year-round programme of matinees is a delight. Shows are aimed at children aged 3 years and older with two indoor stages and the outdoor 'Imagination Theatre' stage, as well as classrooms for the theatre's weekend workshop academy for kids. If your kid has budding theatrical talent, this is the place for it.
Where: 3 Junction Ave, Parktown, nationalchildrenstheatre.org.za
People’s TheatreBest for: Fun and affordable interactive kids productions with weekday and weekend matinees
Where: Joburg Theatre complex, Cnr Loveday and Hoofd Sts, Braamfontein, peoplestheatre.co.za
THEATRES FOR STATE-OF-THE-ART PRODUCTIONS
Best for: Blockbuster musicals, ballet and opera productions, and gala concerts
Where: 163 Civic Blvd, Braamfontein, joburgtheatre.com
Teatro @ MontecasinoBest for: Big stage international musicals, dance shows and concerts
State-of-the-art Teatro @ Montecasino in Fourways opened its doors in 2007 with the international stage phenomenon 'The Lion King' that broke box office records with a 36 week run. The theatre has since staged scores of other Broadway musicals with top-flight local cast members. These include Chicago, Mamma Mia!, The Phantom Of The Opera, Cats, Dreamgirls, Stomp, The Sound of Music and Jersey Boys to name just a few.
Where: Montecasino Casino and Entertainment Complex, Cnr William Nicol Dr and Witkoppen Rd, Fourways, montecasino.co.za
ARTHOUSE PRODUCTIONS AND AWARD-WINNING DRAMA
Market TheatreBest for: 20th and 21st Century South African and international theatre classics and new works by upcoming writers
Where: Cnr Lilian Ngoyi St and Miriam Makeba St (Mary Fitzgerald Square), Newtown, markettheatre.co.za
The Centre For The Less Good IdeaBest for: Experimental and multi-disciplinary performances that mix art, dance, poetry, music and theatre
Where: Arts on Main, 264 Fox St, Maboneng, City Centre, lessgoodidea.com
Auto & General Theatre on the SquareGreat for: New plays and comedy by local writers in the heart of Sandton
Located on Nelson Mandela Square in the heart of Sandton City, this well-established independent theatre is a beacon of culture in what is often an extremely commerce-focused corner of the city. The theatre presents a full schedule of local comedy, classical music, award-winning international drama and plenty of South African theatre premieres. A great place to support new works by local playwrights.
Where: Nelson Mandela Square, West St, Sandton Central, theatreonthesquare.co.za
Pieter Toerien's Montecasino Theatre and Studio
Great for: Intimate theatre productions, cabaret and musicals
Following the closure of the historic and influential Alhambra Theatre in Doornfontein, Pieter Toerien opened this theatre at the Montecasino complex in 2000, presenting a mix of South African productions of stage classics plus cabaret, stand-up comedy, live music and the occasional musical. In 2011 the Main Theatre underwent a major refurb increasing its capacity to 400 while the smaller and more intimate studio theatre seats 150.
Where: Montecasino Casino and Entertainment Centre, cnr Montecasino Blvd and William Nicol Dr, Fourways, pietertoerien.co.za
UJ Arts Centre TheatreGreat for: New South African theatre and dance by emerging playwrights and choreographers
This large, modern and comfortable campus arts theatre at the University of Johannesburg Kingsway Campus has a solid reputation for staging interesting productions drawn from the arts faculty's students and alumni, as well as major shows by leading South African theatre and dance companies. Seating 436 it is a spacious theatre with a large and modern stage set-up capable of hosting surprisingly sizeable productions. Note that it is required to show a Covid vaccine certificate or a negative rapid test to enter the university campus.
Where: UJ Kingsway Campus, Auckland Park, uj.ac.za
Great for: Interesting student productions and occasional theatre festivalsSmall theatre and performing arts venue attached to the Wits University campus in Braamfontein, this venue is usually the host for the annual 969 Festival that sees productions from the annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown brought to Joburg for a special run. Since Covid the theatre's programme has been slow to revive to the regularity that it once had although it is worth keeping an eye out for their occasional student productions. Note that it is required to show a Covid vaccine certificate or a negative rapid test to enter the university campus.
Where: Wits University campus, Cnr Jorissen and Station Sts, Braamfontein, wits.ac.za/witstheatre
COMMUNITY STAGES AND INDEPENDENT THEATRE
Dunkelder Theatre Best for: Intimate stand-up comedy, one-person plays and Afrikaans-language theatre and poetry
Where: 63 Kent Road, Dunkeld, dunkelder.com
Theatre in the ParkBest for: Cabaret, stand-up comedy and live music in a unique location
Where: Delta Park Environmental Centre, Intersection of Rd No. 3 and Rd No 5, Victory Park, theatreinthepark.co.za
The Theatre LindenGreat for: Poetry recitals, live music and intimate performances that benefit from the building's grand acoustics
Soweto TheatreGreat for: Live music, poetry, theatre festivals and contemporary South African classics
The eye-catching Soweto Theatre building with its curved, colourfully tiled facade, opened in 2012 as a space for Soweto's burgeoning music and performing arts scenes. Operated by City of Joburg, the theatre is mainly used for concerts and poetry recitals and also occasionally stages plays produced by local writers. The theatre houses three performance venues, including an outdoor amphitheatre, and state-of-the-art acoustics.
Where: Cnr Bolani Rd and Koma St, Jabulani, Soweto, sowetotheatre.com
Other venues we recommend that occasionally stage theatre productions are The Bioscope at 44 Stanley, who offer a regular comedy night, and James Findlay's amazing bookshop at Rand Club which has been known to turn into a stage for intimate music performances and theatrical shows. We also would like to mention the Roodepoort Theatre, which we haven't had a chance to visit but hope to soon.
Please let us know if you think we should include any other venues in this list by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.