Big Theatre: Reps Theatre

By Chelsy Maumbe

The Repertory Players will have been in existence for 90 years in 2021 and in their home, Reps Theatre, situated on Sam Nujoma Street extension, for the last 60 years – proudly flying the nation’s theatrical flag. What began as four people forming a play reading group in 1931, has now grown into a nationally acclaimed space for the production of plays and a home for teaching and enhancing the craft of theatre. 

Since its public opening in 1960, Reps has produced more than 760 of its own shows, the majority of them under the directorship of Adrian Stanley (one of the two men who had a profound effect on the fortunes of Reps, the other being George Barnes). The theatre has two stages in the venue; the Theatre Upstairs which houses 54 seats and the Main Stage with 461 seats in an acoustic venue that houses bigger productions of up to 100 performers on stage. Also available are three rehearsal spaces which include the George Barnes room, The Adrian Stanley room and the Theatre Upstairs.

In the 1960s and 70s, Adrian Stanley secured the first rights outside Britain and the US to Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. Reps have also staged various versions of well-known musicals such as Lion King, Phantom of The Opera – The Concert, Les Mis – The Concert and Oliver in the last decade to full houses and many standing ovations. 

Even with the economic downturn, Reps has remained a vibrant venue for different events ranging from film screenings, training and small play development theatre, album launches or festivals. Reps was, for many years home for Theatre productions for the acclaimed HIFA. It has also become the resident home for Almasi Arts’ conferences and for the Zimbabwe Theatre Academy. The Theatre has been highly involved in the technical training of Undergraduate Theatre students from the University of Zimbabwe.

Within the theatre are diverse groups centred around the training of all theatrical enthusiasts. Reprobates, Repteens, and Preps are among some of the groups of workshops available. The theatre also has a fantastic wardrobe filled with outfits that can be hired for a variety of occasions. There are many social events held at Reps Theatre, including twice-monthly darts nights and the monthly pub quiz. The annual AFDIS awards ceremony is the theatre’s very own mini-Oscar night, sponsored by African Distillers, which recognises the talent and dedication of the unpaid volunteers who give their time and resources taking part in productions or keeping the spirit of the theatre alive.

Images and article provided by Reps Theatre

Copyright : Ndeipi Magazine issue 117

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