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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE CATALINA (article first published : 2002-12-15)

At last Durban has a proper waterfront with the official opening on Thursday (December 12) of the new Wilson’s Wharf development off the Esplanade. While the Point Waterfront is a strong attraction because of the shipping movements in and out of the harbour channel, the water frontage itself is not user friendly. Shipping traffic disallows small craft and the rocks piling the sides of the harbour entrance form a barrier between water and the onlooker.

At Wilson's Wharf, you’re right at the water’s edge and the various eateries are bound to become the meeting place of outdoor loving Durbanites.

So, what better place to build a theatre? For a start, at night time the surroundings are spectacular, with the lights of the city behind and the splendid vista of the harbour ahead. A full-on dramatic performance in itself.

Themi Venturas promises top quality dramatic theatre in his new venture, The Catalina, the brand new 169-seater theatre situated above Zacks. Offering conference and meeting facilities by day, the theatre features raked seating and a very wide (10 metres) stage that is 6m deep and 3m high. The width of the stage is nearly the same as the Playhouse Drama.

The seating is the most comfortable to be found in any theatre venue in Durban and the deck areas will become popular interval and after-show meeting places. Smokers will welcome the fact that there is a wider social area outside than inside!

If you want to be part of The Catalina’s growth you could invest in its future by purchasing an auditorium chair at a one-off payment of R2,500 for three years. For three years, this allows you to "own" your seat which will have your name embroidered on it.

The Catalina opened with John van de Ruit and Ben Voss’s hugely successful Green Mamba which has attracted full houses since it premiered in Grahamstown at the National Arts Festival this year. The first performance was accompanied by a major storm, with the impressive lightning flashes over the harbour rivalling any fireworks display.

Reviewed twice already on artSMart (see Festivals and Drama Archive pages), Green Mamba is directed by multi-award winner Greig Coetzee. Both cast members have also received awards for their work and no doubt this production will garner a few more. It includes a hilarious series of sketches which looks at issues from car-guarding and Nando’s Chicken to Big Brother and the “crime forecast”! This will be the last chance for local audiences to catch it for a while as John and Ben have made the challenging decision to go on a national tour from February.

Green Mamba runs until January 5 with performances from Tuesdays to Thursdays and Saturdays at 10h00. Friday shows are at 18h00 and 21h00 with a show at 18h00 on Sunday. Tickets R45 booked at the Catalina office on 031 201 9242 or 083 555 1885. – Caroline Smart




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