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|Address||68 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town|
|Opened||16 May 1949|
The Labia Theatre is the oldest independent art-repertory cinema in South Africa.The original building was an Italian Embassy ballroom opened by Princess Labia in May 1949 as a theatre for the staging of live performance arts. It is said that the earliest private projected film screenings were held there from the 1970s although this is unconfirmed.
For the past 37 years, it has been operating as a cinema on the alternative circuit appealing mainly to the more discerning viewer who enjoys its quality product and the charm of its old-world ambience.
When Ludi Kraus took over in September 1989, the Labia began its incarnation as the home of cult, classic and art movies, with a smattering of box office hits. Much of the original features of the old building have been maintained, such as the ticket booth, sweets counter, and even the seats.
Changes to the theatre, since its inception, have included three more cinemas, a bar and food area, and a terrace. For several years, there was an annex location with two modern screens in the Lifestyle Centre at 50 Kloof Street, but this location was closed in 2013.
In July 2014, the Labia Theatre started a crowd funding campaign, "Help The Labia Go Digital." This initiative was run by Ludi Kraus and Erica Schofield who turned to fans, filmmakers and friends to help transition to digital and upgrade the theatre. Specifically, they wanted to raise funds for digital projectors, new facilities, an upgraded foyer and the ability to continue to treat patrons to a quaint authentic experience.
In support of the cause a local film producer, James Taylor of Switch Films, specially made a short film title I Love the Labia.
Critically the Labia Theatre faced a choice to go digital or go dark. This was due to the international switch from celluloid to digital projectors and the short supply and increasing costs of such traditional material meant that increasingly less movies would be available to screen. Digital projectors are also expensive.
The initiative was sufficiently successful, with 885 individuals raising over R550,000. Although well short of the R2,000,000 target needed, the campaign helped rejuvenate the Labia Theatre with digital projectors in all the cinemas. It also helped gain significant new support and increasing visitor numbers.
- "GoogleMaps". Location and direction to the Labia Theatre. GoogleMaps. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- "ThundaFund: Labia Theatre". Crowdfunding for the Labia Theatre. ThundaFund. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- "Vimeo: I Love The Labia Theatre". Crowdfunding for the Labia Theatre. Vimeo. Retrieved 20 March 2015.