Theatre on the Square


Daphne Kuhn’s Theatre on the Square at Nelson Mandela Square has entertained audiences for 27-years and now, has turned to crowdfunding to ensure that the show can go on.


  • Anyone can support the ‘Keeping the Lights On’ campaign by donating from R1 upwards.
  • The Theatre on the Square has created work for thousands of actors, musicians, playwrights, directors, designers, and technicians over the years.
  • More than 2’500 productions have been staged at this 200-seat theatre since its inception.
  • Visit for more stories.


Joburg’s popular Theatre on the Square has launched an appeal on Thundafund seeking to raise R2-million to stage a full reopening with a repertoire of dramas, musicals, comedians, and concerts.


Our theatre has brought joy, upliftment, entertainment and education to thousands of theatre lovers, always embracing diversity and challenging minds. It cannot be allowed to die. Every day I get requests from artists, musicians, playwrights and directors asking when we’re reopening.

// Founder, Owner and Artistic Director, Daphne Kuhn


Daphne had already devised a fundraising campaign with a variety of benefits, and that has seen some money rolling in. But launching the appeal on ThundaFund allows people to donate instantly by just clicking on the website from anywhere in the world.


Crowdfunding works by allowing hundreds or thousands of people to pledge whatever amount they choose. If a tipping point is reached by a set date, the money is given to the campaign – in this case, R200’000 is the minimum target. If the tipping point isn’t reached, all the donations are reimbursed and the organiser gets nothing. Those rules ensure that people only end up contributing to ventures that are financially viable.


The theatre’s ‘Keeping the Lights On’ campaign has set a tipping point of R200’000 by August 8. That would be enough to cover the first few months of reopening until the income from ticket sales carries it forward. But the dream goal of R2-million would ensure a full programme of high-quality live entertainment for at least a year.


Its rewards packages start at R500 for individual membership, giving donors a 50% discount on tickets for all shows produced by the theatre, plus invitations to special evenings, previews and discussions with the artists. Sponsoring a seat costs R1’200 a year, with your name inscribed on a seat and discounted tickets. Life membership for R10’000 gives you two complimentary tickets to the shows and your name inscribed on a plaque. Corporate membership for R10’000 a year comes with 12 complimentary tickets a month, the company name inscribed on a plaque, and its logos in the theatre programs.


The Theatre on the Square has been financially viable and artistically successful for 25-years, thanks to corporate sponsors and personal investments by Daphne. But the Covid lockdown forced it to close, at the same time as seven years of corporate sponsorship from Auto & General came to an end.


Daphne and her team have sourced, financed, and produced numerous new shows, giving many young playwrights and performers their first break. They have imported successful foreign plays and hosted local musicians, comedians, and children’s productions. But it will now close permanently unless individual theatre lovers and corporate sponsors come forward. The lockdown has already forced Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre into permanent closure, and Daphne is afraid the Theatre on the Square will follow.


Theatre on the Square
The theatre’s ‘Keeping the Lights On’ campaign has set a tipping point of R200’000 by August 8. Image: The Sandton Times

It’s a tragedy to see theatres closing, especially at this time when healing and upliftment is needed more than ever. The arts are on the bottom of the priority list for financial support, but they’re an essential service that should be supported to keep South African culture alive.

// Founder, Owner and Artistic Director, Daphne Kuhn


Daphne hopes to reopen before the end of the year, with all health protocols in place. The promised line-up includes local comedians Nik Rabinowitz, Loyiso Madinga, and Ntosh Madlingozi; a new play by South African playwright Paul Slabolepszy; the international play Love and Money; a new musical revue; comedy sketches by local satirist Mike van Graan; and a new play starring Sylvaine Strike and Andrew Buckland. Lunchtime classical music and jazz concerts will also make a welcome return.


This theatre is part of the cultural life of Johannesburg and has created productions that have toured the world, with the careers of many well-known artists launched here. Live theatre is absolutely magical and we cannot possibly lose this amazing art form.

// Founder, Owner and Artistic Director, Daphne Kuhn


Click here for more details on the Theatre on the Square ‘Keeping the Lights On’ campaign.


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