It opened in early 2010 and was named in honour of Athol Fugard, an iconic South African playwright known for his contributions to South African theatre and film. He is one of the most internationally acclaimed local playwrights, having been in the industry for over 50 years. He worked and collaborated with many talents including John Kani, to create a vivid and accurate myriad of characters that reflect and project the complexity of the South African landscape. From making us laugh and cry, Fugard has told the story of South Africa and its difficulty and continues to make the world reflect on humanity and the past, whilst holding on to a unified outlook to the future through his work.
The Sacks Futeran buildings were purchased in 2002 by the District Six Museum Foundation Trust through a grant from the Atlantic Philanthropic Foundation, which was established in December of 1994. The intention was to work with the memories of the District Six experiences, with a particular emphasis placed on the memories of those who were victims of the forced removals as a result of the marginalisation by the apartheid government. District six was named the sixth municipal district in 1867 and was originally established as a mixed community for freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants. With the removals the area became neglected and on February 11th 1966, it was declared a white area. More than 60000 people were forcibly removed and had their houses flattened by bulldozers.
The museum was able to acquire five interconnected Sacks Futeran buildings, which were transformed and made into a museum to create a homecoming center for District Six returnees as a public space of memory. The space became transitional and transactive in the community as one of the heritage landscapes of apartheid South Africa.
The building has a long history as a textile and soft goods supplier which was frequented by many generations of seamstresses and tailors from District Six. The five interconnected buildings are a combination of nineteenth and early twentieth century warehouses with a portion of an old gothic style church at its centre. This section of the building would become the Fugard, and it still has the old Congregational Church Hall in Clandon Street as its entrance. This space was intended as a multifunctional performance space that “invokes the social spirit of the bioscopes and the community halls of District Six.” It serves as a center for memory, reminiscing, performances of all kind and storytelling.
The 320 seater theatre was improved in 2011, a year after opening its doors, as it was fitted with a state of the art cinema equipment and surround sound in order to serve as a bioscope. They currently run plays, musical productions and film screenings.
The Fugard can be seen as being part of the cultural change that took place after the release of Mandela, and his election as president as these events catapulted a shift in cultural organisations and structures such as the arts and theatre. This shift saw the rise of more diverse narratives and more inclusive social establishments. The Fugard continues to be a structure of art, memory and culture and showcases South African stories in an iconic and historically loaded space.
About the Theatre” thefugard.com. Accessed: 25 Jan 2017. http://www.thefugard.com/about-the-fugard-theatre/about-the-fugard-theatre ↵
 “About the Theatre.” ↵
 “The District Six Museum” districtsix.co.za. Accessed: 25 Jan 2017 ↵
 Hayle Hayes-Roberts. “From Family business to public museum: The Transformation of the Sacks Futeran Buildings into Homecoming Centre of the District Six Museum.” (Master’s Thesis, University of the Western Cape, 2012) ↵
 “Sacks Futeran Building Project” Accessed: 25 Jan 2017 ↵
 Temple Hauptfleisch. “The Shaping of South African theatre: An Overview of Major Trends.” (University of Stellenbosch) p 23. Accessed: 25 Jan 2017http://wiki.lib.sun.ac.za/images/8/8c/Hauptfleisch_majortrends_2007.pdf ↵
On the 17th of March 2021 the Theatre unfortunately closed it's doors! This was the statement released by the Fugard Theatre Founder, producer, and benefactor Eric Abraham.
“Dear Friends of The Fugard Theatre,
After a year of Covid closure, it is with great regret and sadness that I have to confirm that The Fugard Theatre will close permanently with immediate effect.
We are not persuaded that it will be Covid safe or financially viable to reopen as a theatre in the foreseeable future.
The theatre will be handed back to the owner of the freehold of the building – the board of The District 6 Museum – as a working theatre and we hope that they will be able to
use it for the benefit of the Museum and the District 6 community.
I thank our extraordinary staff for all their hard work and you, our patrons, for your support for The Fugard over the last ten years.
Stay well and take care.”
It is a sad day for South African theatre, indeed. Fugard Theatre, you will be sorely missed.
Hauptfleisch, T. “The Shaping of South African theatre: An Overview of Major Trends.” (University of Stellenbosch) p 23. Accessed: 25 Jan 2017
https://wiki.lib.sun.ac.za/images/8/8c/Hauptfleisch_majortrends_2007.pdf |Hayes-Roberts, H. “From Family business to public museum: The Transformation of the Sacks Futeran Buildings into Homecoming Centre of the District Six Museum.” (Master’s Thesis, University of the Western Cape, 2012)| About the Theatre” thefugard.com. Accessed: 25 Jan 2017. https://www.thefugard.com/about-the-fugard-theatre/about-the-fugard-theatre| The District Six Museum” districtsix.co.za. Accessed: 25 Jan 2017
https://www.districtsix.co.za/| ;“Sacks Futeran Building Project” Accessed: 25 Jan 2017