Maynardville Open-air Theatre in Cape Town

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Maynardville Open-air Theatre in Cape Town
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Maynardville Open-air Theatre in Cape Town, South Africa

During summertime when the weather is good, in true Cape Town style, the city has its own version of the New York City’s Central Park’s Shakespeare in the Park. Theatre goers often bring a picnic supper to enjoy before the show. Maynardville Open-air Theatre is situated on the corner of Church and Wolfe Streets.

Cecilia Sonenberg and René Ahrenson, two Cape Town actresses, recognised Maynardville’s potential as an open-air theatre. Leslie French from Regents Park Open-air Theatre in London was brought to Wynberg to produce the first production in the Maynardville Open-air Theatre.

"The Taming of the Shrew” opened on 29 January 1956. And so many other Shakespeare productions have since been performed there. You can ask any local person who completed schooling and they will tell you about experiencing at least one Shakespeare play at Maynardville as part of their high school curriculum.

Some interesting history about the theatre:

The remains of Napoleon was exhumed from his grave on St Helena and moved to Dôme des Invalides in Paris in 1841. James Maynard then bought the gates that guarded the St Helena tomb and had them shipped to Cape Town to be placed at the driveway to his estate. The Willow grove at Maynardville were cultivated from cuttings taken from the trees surrounding the tomb. The gates remained at Maynardville for 100 years, after which they were returned St Helena to be restored to the original site.

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