The Market Theatre in Johannesburg can definitely be regarded as the heart of the city. This art complex is a melting pot of cultures, a showcase of talent and the place where everything seems to be happening. Here one can enjoy some of the best theatre, dance and music that South Africa has to offer. Patrons come to savour the good food and to admire the beautiful artworks in the various art galleries. But most of all, they come to enjoy the wonderful, vibrant atmosphere.
The Market Theatre was once a very run-down Edwardian market hall. It underwent a complete metamorphosis, which began in 1975. A small group of dedicated actors got together and raised the funds to save the grand old building. They did the actual physical labour themselves.
This conversion into a cultural arena of international standard has become an important symbol of urban renewal. Over the years, the Market Theatre has provided a platform for the development of some of South Africa's best actors and playwrights.
The vast hall that houses the Market Theatre complex and the new Museum Africa has a very unusual roof construction. The roof is two hundred meters in length and the complex spans 36 meters. The metal trusses and other components were manufactured in Glasgow in 1922. They were shipped to South Africa and eventually assembled.The building was completed in 1913 and served as a produce market for more than 60 years. The main entrance to the Market Theatre complex is the grand Edwardian facade in Wolhuter Street, which has three arched windows, flanked by twin domed towers.
The complex has three theatres. The biggest is situated in the old Indian Produce Market. Some of the vendors'signs still hang from the gallery. Also within the complex are two art galleries that hold regular exhibitions of contemporary South African art. There is a small bar in the main theatre with a lovely atmosphere.
Kippies is another popular venue with a wonderful atmosphere, named after legendary saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi. Here live jazz is played late into the night. There are also several eateries to choose from.
On Saturday mornings there is a wonderfully colourful and offbeat fleamarket held at the theatre. It has a unique African atmosphere. Hundreds of stallholders sell crafts, clothing, antiques, printed fabrics, sculptures, beads and finely crafted curious and other artefacts from elsewhere in Africa. Come and experience the spirit of Johannesburg!
How To Get There
The Market Theatre is situated at the corner of Bree and Wolhuter Streets. It is to the west of the Central Business District. Tours of the Market Theatre are offered daily. For further information, contact the theatre at Tel (011) 832 1641.
Places to Stay
For a great selection of places to stay with discount prices visit Johannesburg Hotels for more information.