The Playhouse Theatre at 231 Smith Street Durban was opened on 7th June 1935 by
Mr. C.F. Clarkson O.B.E., Minister of Posts and Telegraphs as a live theatre and was
later (1950s?) converted into a cinema. The building was designed by architect P.
Rogers-Cooke in a striking English Tudor style and the establishment quickly became a
landmark in Durban
The seating capacity of the Playhouse was 1862 which was accommodated in
both a stalls and circle section.
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE PLAYHOUSE
The Playhouse in Durban is the only South African atmospheric theatre that
has somehow managed to survive fairly intact. When the venue was closed in
the 1970s, it was taken over by the Natal Performing Arts Council and after an
expensive 'make-over' of both the auditorium and foyer, emerged as a
magnificent venue for the presentation of live shows.
The outside facade of the Playhouse as it appears today - very much the
same as it looked when it opened in 1935
The re-vamped auditorium that has mercifully preserved and retained the
Tudor-style walls from the original architectural design by P. Rogers-Cooke.
Photo below shows the Playhouse on the left and the old Prince's Theatre on
the right (adjoining the Playhouse). This theatre's facade was restored to its
original state after a false facade was erected in 1964 when the theatre was
refurbished as the Colosseum.