Why I am buying the Baxter a cup of coffee every month for a year

Baxter Theatre

I love the theatre; I have loved it ever since I can remember. The six theatre venues I regularly visit in Cape Town are the Fugard Theatre, the Baxter Theatre, the Kalk Bay Theatre, the Artscape, Maynardville, and the Courtyard Playhouse. My favourite stage is the Golden Arrow Studio Theatre at the Baxter. I love its intimacy and immediacy; if I can, I sit in the first row and watch the wonder of acting unfold right before my eyes…

So when I got Lara Foot’s letter this morning, asking for support for the Baxter, I was immediately flooded by memories of this incredible space, a home for the arts, a home for art lovers, and when I imagined that it could cease to exist, a cold shiver ran down my spine. It is unimaginable…

The earliest distinct memory I have of the Baxter is from 2005: André’s 70th birthday celebration in the foyer during which Antjie Krog gave an amazing speech I will never forget.

I fell in love with that smallest venue at the Baxter when watching Exits and Entrances on this stage. Most recently, I saw The Hucksters there. And before it: Waiting for the Barbarians, and There Was This Goat, and Mother to Mother, and #JustMen, Solomon and Marion, and and and… The memories keep coming.

Only last year in November, we listened to Anthony Marwood play in the Baxter’s concert hall.

And remember that moment when Roger Federer dropped in during the Rolex Arts Weekend? Difficult to think that this was only the other day…


My brother and I sat near the stage and couldn’t believe our eyes. We also got to chat to Tracy K. Smith again. We heard her perform years ago in New York and I became a fan. She signed the copies of all my books and agreed to pose for a photograph.

Meeting Tracy K. Smith at the Baxter

There are also memories of pain and solace at the Baxter. In my memoir, I wrote:

In the weeks of grief and recuperation which followed, I found myself anchorless, adrift and vulnerable. There is no peace in fear for a loved one. No place to hide in the face of death. I read and wrote through the nights, stared into darkness. All scattered and breathless, I watched Lara Foot’s play Fishers of Hope at the Baxter. The staging, despite the harsh realities of the lives portrayed, soothed me. In many scenes, a short clip of a sunset on a lake rising in swells with a fishing boat in the centre played against the back wall of the stage. Towards the end of the performance, the woman protagonist stood on a jetty, and her triumphant cry and her song for fish and plenty resounded across the lake’s waters. Her strength was a reassurance.

Other unforgettable plays that I watched on these stages were Somewhere on the Border, Mies Julie, Betrayal, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, among so many others…

Philida van de Delta, the musical, was performed at the Baxter.

And, of course, that is where Joanne Hichens and I heard the fantastic news that we would receive a NAC grant to compile and edit the anthology HAIR: Weaving and Unpicking Stories of Identity.

It was one of the most joyous projects I have ever worked on, and it felt incredible to be able to ask writers and photographers to contribute and to actually offer them payment for their work. This is not always common in our field of work…

Most of you won’t know it, but I am actually an award-winning playwright. Writing for the theatre is not my main line of literary interest, but I found it extremely rewarding to work on the play and I have at least one more play in me that will be written one day. I am also one of those readers who reads plays, even if I have never seen them performed on stage. But to witness a play unfold live in front of your eyes is magic in its purest form.

There are so many reasons why the show must go on.

If like me, you would like to become a #BaxterCoffeeAngels, click here: BAXTER COFFEE ANGELS – buy the Baxter a coffee, and if you can, add a piece of cake or a glass of wine, too.


1 thought on “Why I am buying the Baxter a cup of coffee every month for a year

  1. Fahiem Stellenboom

    Dear Karina,
    I would like to thank you so much for this beautiful post on your blog about The Baxter’s campaign and for your positive experiences at our theatre. We are so grateful to you for doing this. I would like to share it on our social media platforms if that’s okay with you. I have always been a fan of yours and now you have consolidated for me what a caring angel of the arts you are you. Many thanks.

    Warmest regards
    Fahiem Stellenboom
    Marketing Manager
    Baxter Theatre Centre
    +27 722 656 023


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