ETIENNE ROUSSEAU THEATRE
Almost 40 years after Sasol donated the Etienne Rousseau Theatre to the community of Sasolburg to commemorate its 25th year in existence, Sasol is doing extensive renovations at the theatre to restore this award winning building to the fully operational cultural centre that brought the best local and international performing artists to Sasolburg for many years.
Designed as a multi-purpose theatre, the venue has staged distinguished and varied national and international productions of drama, opera, ballet and various styles of music over the years. Some of the world-renowned artists who have appeared on the stage of the Etienne Rousseau Theatre over the years include the international legends flamenco guitarist Paco Pena, classical pianist Jorge Bolet, jazz and pop pianist Horst Jankowski, "The Man With the Golden Flute” James Galway and classical pianist Mark Zeltser.
The first performance at the Etienne Rousseau Theatre was on 15 October 1975 by the Cantabilé Youth Choir of Sasolburg High School. A month of performing arts festivity followed. The National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC and Pact and Napac ballet performed, while the festivities concluded with a doyenne of Afrikaans theatre, Anna Neethling-Pohl performing Suiderland en Suiderkruis for Pacofs.
On 24 October 1975 a ceremonial key was presented by Etienne Rousseau, the then Sasol Chairman, to the mayor of Sasolburg, Cllr Rita Marais, who accepted the theatre on behalf of the residents of the town. At this official opening, Napac Opera performed Il Trovatore.
There were several innovations implemented in the design of the Etienne Rousseau Theatre that won the architects of the theatre the coveted Institute of South African Architects merit award for architectural design in 1977.
A large foyer provides space for interaction with fellow patrons and small functions. The area can also be used for art exhibitions or even puppet shows.
The auditorium seats 456, arranged in such a way that there are no isles in the theatre. Three rows are serviced by dedicated entrance on both sides to ensure adequate access to seats.
The stage has an area of 14,5m by 12m to accommodate fairly large productions such as ballet and opera, while the two wings provide ample space for performers and stage sets.
The orchestra pit can house 40 musicians and has storage space for a grand piano.