South African Theatres and Cinemas - mostly gone
South Africa is negligent of its theatre and cinema heritage. I have grabbed this collection of remaining photos from where I can and in a hurry before they all…
Empire Johannesburg. The Empire Theatre was situated in Commissioner Street at the corner of Kruis Street - diagonally opposite the Colosseum Theatre. It was a very impressive building and opened in September 1936 to form part of the African Consolidated Theatres chain. The very stately and ornate auditorium had both stalls and circle seating and when used as a cinema
20th Century Johannesburg. The decor could be described as 'modern contemporary' and certainly not atmospheric. The auditorium was decorated by Ernest Ullmann who used a giant relief map of the world on the auditorium walls as a symbolic figure of moving entertainment covering the hemispheres.
Being a flagship cinema, the Colosseum employed a concierge (who controlled the queues - informing patrons about the availability of seats) at least six doormen and a large number of usherettes - all decked out in maroon-coloured uniforms. During the 1960s Ms. Lou Botha was the head usherette, Mr. Van Der Linde the chief projectionist and the cinema was managed by the distinguished George Seymour. After Seymour's death he was succeeded by Henry Ascar.
The Colosseum could accommodate full-fledged stage shows as well as movie presentations. A distinct feature was the ceiling of the large auditorium which contained hundreds of tiny concealed lights giving the effect of looking up at a night sky with twinkling stars. The seating capacity was 2279 with stalls, dress and upper circle. The Colosseum was closed in 1985 and the building demolished to make way for a modern office building
EMBASSY Durban CINEMA SOUVENIRS The elegant Embassy Theatre was situated in Smith Street, Durban and opened its doors in 1955. The seating capacity was 1974 contained in both stalls and circle sections. After 34 years, the cinema was closed on Saturday 15 April 1989.
Cinerama Cinema, Johannesburg. The Cinerama Theatre was situated in Claim Street, Johannesburg and opened in April 1961. Its seating capacity was 993. The theatre was closed on 27 February 1986 and converted into a discotheque.