It’s hard to believe that the bustling metropolis which is now the City of Johannesburg was once a site which drew hundreds in their search for gold. Whether it was panning for nuggets in the streams or working in the mines, Egoli (the Zulu word for ‘place of gold’) offered the ultimate utopia.
These are not a series of articles which reflect on the hardships and family repercussions this influx caused, but on the magnificent variety of architecture, historical sites and places to visit which arose due to the influencers leaving their indelible imprints.
The Johannesburg Civic Theatre: Now known as the Joburg Theatre Complex
As a child growing up in Johannesburg, it was always a treat to be taken to the theatre… and the Civic was an absolute highlight with its plush velvet seats.
Situated at the top of the hill in Braamfontein, approximately 4-minutes-drive away from the Johannesburg CBD, the Johannesburg Civic Centre was erected in the early 1960s. One always knew an exciting adventure awaited. These were the days when one dressed up for the occasion. Takkies (tennis shoes) and jeans were certainly not the norm!
In 2009, the facility underwent a ‘facelift’. It was rebranded as the Joburg Theatre Complex comprising four theatres (each with their own unique identities) and dance studios.
The fusion of the Joburg, Soweto and Roodepoort Theaters under one umbrella, namely the Joburg City Theaters produced in 2013. (Soweto has a rich history all of its own into which I will not delve into this article. Roodepoort, which originated as a mining town next to Johannesburg, has now also become a city in its own right.)
Nelson Mandela Theatre and others theatres
Within the Joburg Theatre Complex, The Nelson Mandela Theatre is the largest, with the capability of seating an audience of over 1000. With the most lavish of productions, one can view the performances of the world’s best ballerinas or by opera productions. And, of course, it’s home to the annual end-of-the-year pantomime.
The Lesedi Theatre, formerly known as the Fringe Theatre, caters for smaller productions. It can seat an audience of approximately 250.
The People’s Theatre caters for children’s productions. Unfortunately, this is one of a couple of venues in Johannesburg which realise the value of introducing children to the arts at an early age. The stage is small – only 56m2 and it can only seat approximately 175 people.
Space.com is exactly what it says. It is a versatile area, used for a variety of art styles, experimental work, game readings, and much more.
Last, but not least, there are two dance studios with glass frontage which enable visitors to view ballet classes in action.
One drawback of being situated near the Joburg CBD is the prominence of loiterers. However, that should definitely not deter you! As with visiting every country in the world there will be an element of danger, but providing you are careful and stay within the precincts of the venue you are visiting, you will be perfectly safe.
Security teams are on alert to aid and protect you. The City of Johannesburg is working hard towards encouraging visitors.
That’s the beauty of our suburbs. By choosing a hotel in Rosebank, for instance, where the Jack Rose is situated, you are a mere 5 minutes away from the Gautrain which can take you to the CBD or Sandton, Midrand, Pretoria or even the airport.
The Rosebank Management District has the safety of residents and visitors alike as its priority. To make every street scrollable and not having to constantly be vigilant, RMD prides itself in encouraging open-air (alfresco) dining at the various restaurants at the Zone or the piazza at The Firs.
So, whether you are someone who enjoys the arts or nature; fine, casual dining or fast food; photography; cycling; live music; historical walks or sipping a cocktail and watching the sunset, you will always find something to do or to see in Johannesburg.