Baxter’s history

Cast members from The Fall paid tribute to the Baxter. From left are Cleo Raatus, Tankiso Mamabolo, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Thando Mangcu and Sihle Mnqwazana.

The Baxter Theatre Centre, designed by the award-winning architect Jack Barnett, opened on August 1, 1977.

It came into being as the result of a bequest from the late Dr William Duncan Baxter who, in his will, bequeathed R553 866 to the University of Cape Town for the purpose of establishing a theatre which would, in his words, “develop and cultivate the arts in Cape Town and the adjacent districts for all artists”.

This bequest was split between building the premises and establishing a permanent endowment fund for the Baxter’s activities.

Dr Barnett wanted to design a theatre that embodied the South African spirit and culture, at a time when South Africa was much divided.

A theatre like the Baxter had to embrace all the people of Cape Town, which was difficult due to the laws that were enforced in the country at the time.

The Entertainment Act of 1931 introduced legal censorship and the Publication and Entertainment Act of 1963 segregated black and white audiences, unless under special licences.

Source: The Baxter Theatre