Iconic Baxter Theatre turns 40 as 'The Fall' takes Edinburgh by storm

Cape Town's iconic Baxter Theatre celebrates its 40th birthday this month.

The landmark theatre marked the momentous occasion by opening six productions simultaneously at the world renowned Edinburgh Assembly Fringe Festival.

Lara Foot, CEO and Artistic Director of the Baxter Theatre Centre, reflected on the history and significance of the venue and the success at Edinburgh.

The Baxter Theatre came about when the late Dr William Duncan Baxter left money in his will to the University of Cape Town (UCT) to build an inclusive theatre.

He wanted to build a theatre that would accommodate both black and white audiences during apartheid.

Lara Foot, CEO and Artistic Director of the Baxter Theatre Centre

Foot explains that the Baxter existed as a voice for truth during the apartheid era, showing many protests plays.

Somehow, the Baxter got away with telling the truth. At the time, it wasn't only about what you could say on stage, but who could be there.

Lara Foot, CEO and Artistic Director of the Baxter Theatre Centre

We have a wonderful, loyal public and artists that are fantastically talented that perform constantly at the Baxter.

Lara Foot, CEO and Artistic Director of the Baxter Theatre Centre

It existed like a living newspaper; the truth was getting out. Theatre had a lot to do with transformation and bringing down the (apartheid) government.

Lara Foot, CEO and Artistic Director of the Baxter Theatre Centre

Read: The Fall theatre production dissects complex student stories

Today, the Baxter is one of the busiest independent theatres in Africa and continues to be a voice for truth.

'The Fall' is among the six cutting edge productions sent to the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.

'The Fall' was commissioned by the Baxter and workshopped by an ensemble cast of UCT alumni.

It sold out and ran at the Baxter for two seasons and has taken Edinburgh by storm - winning the The Stage 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Award and the Scotsman’s Fringe First Award.

'The Fall' cast member Zandile Madliwa says the audiences have been extremely receptive and the cast has been overwhelmed by the support.

We never expected all this incredible feedback. Within our first two weeks of performing here, we received two awards and we've gotten three five-star reviews. It has been incredible!

Zandile Madliwa, actress and 'The Fall' cast member

We're so appreciative and love the fact that people understand the importance of the stories that we have to share.

Zandile Madliwa, actress and 'The Fall' cast member

It's so relatable to so many movements around the world. A call has to be made for change.

Zandile Madliwa, actress and 'The Fall' cast member

Foot says she has never before worked with such a dynamic cast and says 'The Fall' will return to the Baxter in September, before touring other parts of the world.

Take a listen to the story of the Baxter Theatre and how 'The Fall' has been shining abroad:

Profile image: Fahiem Stellenboom via UCT News.

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