From its humble beginnings on a dairy farm in Plettenberg Bay in 1996 to international hit shows, The Barnyard Theatre has proven to be a home-grown legend.
In celebration of two decades of rocking the nation, the Barnyard Theatre is giving away an all-inclusive party for 30 people valued at R20000 at each participating venue. The Barnyard is also offering double Barnyard Bucks for loyalty members during June and July. (For more information and to sign up for the Barnyard Loyalty Club to stand a chance to win the competition, visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za/20.)
Participating venues include Rivonia Barnyard, Cresta Barnyard, Willowbridge Barnyard (Cape Town), Pretoria Barnyard and Emperors Palace Barnyard.
The first Barnyard Theatre was opened in 1996 by the Möller family on a dairy farm just outside Plettenberg Bay. Louis and Sybel had both been involved in the performing arts most of their lives: Louis as co-founder and producer of, amongst others, ‘Carte Blanche’, and Sybel Coetzee as a freelance actress and TV presenter.
In 1989 they took stock of their hectic lives with two young boys and decided that family comes first. As a result they decided to open a dairy farm close to Plettenberg Bay. After a few years of farming they longed for a way to combine their two loves – the footlights and the farm. Then 1996 saw the birth of The Barnyard Theatres. Why Barnyard? Louis had built a rustic American-style wooden barn on the farm, which Sybel and Louis converted into a theatre with an old-world atmosphere: heavy wooden beams, a horseshoe gallery, big tables with welcoming lanterns and wood chips on the floor.
In 2003 Louis joined forces with well-known South African musician Duck Chowles and together they formed The Barnyard Theatre Production Company. Having produced, amongst others, the mega-hit ‘Roll over Beethoven’, Louis instinctively knew Duck belonged in the Barnyard stable. Duck Chowles now directs and produces all Barnyard Theatre Productions as well as being a co-owner of most of the venues.
The Barnyard Theatre Group has expressed their thanks to all their loyal fans for the support over the years.
There are currently six Barnyard Theatres nationwide. The Barnyard Theatres have grown to include:
• Emperors Palace Barnyard (East Rand, Jhb)
• Cresta Barnyard (Randburg, Jhb)
• Rivonia Barnyard (Sunninghill, Jhb)
• Pretoria Barnyard (Moreleta Park, Pta)
• Cape Town Barnyard (Tyger Valley, Cape Town)
• Gateway Barnyard (Umhlanga, Durban)
Although each venue is slightly different, the general layouts, look and feel of the theatre interior are all similar and resemble the original concept.
The in-house production company employs a wide variety of musicians and performers and has at least six different shows running at any given time. The Barnyard Theatre believes in growing and supporting local talent.
One of their shows, ‘Under African Skies’ (also known as ‘Diamonds & Dust’), has performed at over 80 theatres in Belgium, Holland, France and Denmark. Barnyard shows have also been staged internationally in the Middle and Far East, including multiple sell-out shows at The First Group Theatre at the five-star Madinat Jumeirah resort in Dubai.
The best in South African comedians and bands also frequent Barnyard stages for one-off shows throughout the year. The likes of Dan Patlansky, The Parlotones, Prime Circle, Karen Zoid, Chris Chameleon, Theuns Jordaan, Juanita du Plessis, Barry Hilton, Monark and Bobby van Jaarsveld are just a few of the well-known local musicians and bands that frequent the Barnyard stages.
* To view the full list of shows currently on the Barnyard circuit and other one-off shows, visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za.