Old Mill Theatre in Paarl near Cape Town, South Africa
The Old Mill Theatre in Paarl, home to the Paarl Theatre Club, is a community theatre producing a variety of entertainment in both English as well as the local language, Afrikaans. The theatre is available for hire by professional entertainers and others seeking a venue for their productions.
Already in the nineteenth century Paarl had a rich acting scene, as well as music – and since 1882 the Paarl Union Debating Society performed a variety of plays. At the beginning of the twentieth century “blaasorkes” was very popular. The Paarl Music Association was founded in 1913, and in 1940 joined together with the Choir Association to form the Paarl Music and Drama Association.
It was however discovered that the townhall was unsuitable, and not equipped for plays. Eventually this aspect of the association disappeared. The Paarl Theatre Club was officially founded in 1951 under the management of Mr De Wet Laubscher (Oom Laubie) with the main goal to perform and promote acting and plays. In the beginning years the clubs main problem was the shortcomings on appointed theatre, and in 1954 the “Skuurteater” in Pastorielaan was put to use, thanks to Mr Podlashuk (at present the “Rottang en Bamboes” shop).
Different plays are performed here and it was especially during this period that Miriam Bloom and the actress Joey de Koker were actively involved at the club. Due to circumstances in 1961 the club lost use of the “Skuurteatre” and as result of this and withdrawal of influential people, interest dwindled and the club was dissolved.
All equipment was now owned by three appointed trustees. During 1969 a new group started the club again. This was Pearl Retief and Brian Higgo-Holm, under management of Owen Maunder. They functioned out of the National Hall in Fabriek Street. In 1971 the Old Mill Theatre is made to use.
Between then and now the theatre was closed and reopened again. Although the theatre cannot boast state of the art equipment, it has a warm atmosphere where friends gather to enjoy local talent. You can also have dinner here. Many artists also visit this theatre. This theatre is a jewel to Paarl, and one that will not easily be forgotten or let go to waste.