The East London Guild Theatre is celebrating 60 years since it first opened its doors on October 6 1962.
The iconic theatre has staged many outstanding productions, from drama, dance, and musical showcases to concerts, comedy, magic shows, and more.
The first-ever production showcased at the theatre was a British comedy called School for Scandal, which was directed by Mary Howe who imported costumes from London for the show.
Situated in the heart of East London, the Guild Theatre has stood strong despite financial challenges and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite this, the theatre has still managed to stage big productions that run for weeks at a time and has backup so shows can continue during loadshedding.
One of the most notable events staged at the Guild Theatre is the Umtiza Arts Festival. This year’s vibrant festival, showcasing artists from all over Buffalo City, included singing, dancing and acting.
Other notable staged shows were the various dance performances by the Sonwa Sakuba Institute for the Performing Arts, the Tracy Delport Dance Company Studio and the Christian Dance Academy.
Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist, who has performed at the theatre for more than 30 years, has only the fondest memories.
“I knew the first day I arrived at the Guild Theatre that everything about the theatre just worked.
“Thirty-three years later I am still enjoying everything the theatre provides.
“A very happy 60th birthday to the theatre and the staff that make the magic happen.
“I look forward to the next 30 years at the Guild Theatre,” he said.
Tracy Delport, who has showcased many of her dance productions at the theatre, said she appreciated the professional service she had received from the theatre’s staff over the years.
“I appreciate the staff so much. Zane, Jonathan, and Andre always go above and beyond for us.
“Thank you to them and happy sixtieth,” said Delport.
The theatre’s chairperson, Malwande Ntisana, said the Guild played a pivotal role in giving artists from all over the Eastern Cape a platform to showcase their work.
“This theatre isn’t just for East London, we have artists from as far as Aliwal North and Kokstad.
“We’ve also had artists like Msaki, Sonwa, and Tats Nkonzo perform as young upcoming artists and returning later on as well as established artists in the industry.
“I’m also excited to see young children who are starting out as dancers from a young age and watch them as they grow,” said Ntisana.