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Pieter Toerien accommodates his actors in a house a few minutes' walk from his Theatre on the Bay

Over the years, short to medium-term accommodation in Cape Town has become increasingly expensive, says Pieter Toerien of Theatre On The Bay and its accompanying Actors’ House.

“From these challenges came the need for a house, close enough to Theatre On The Bay to be convenient, and suitably warm and unpretentious in the overall layout to feel like a home from home for our touring actors and creatives,” says Toerien.

“To be able to take a short walk to the theatre along the Camps Bay promenade, as the sun is setting or as the para-gliders descend on to the beach, seems to energise and soothe. This encompasses the spirit of Theatre On The Bay.”

Each room in the house is named after an actor who has made an impact on Theatre On The Bay, says Toerien.

“There is a sense of pride to be able to say, ‘I’m staying in the Moira Lister suite’ or ‘I’m lodging in the Alan Committie’.

“An important aspect of the house is the collection of theatre memorabilia posters. Besides having become a sought-after decor element over the years, they have also become the hallmark of the house design and a living and continuous archive.”

Pieter Toerien Productions is currently presenting the acclaimed Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Evita at Artscape until January.

The custodian of the Actors’ House, who lives on site, Mike de Beer, says: “Mostly upcountry cast members and our overseas guest artistes are staying in the house at the moment.”

How do the performers relate to the surroundings that have been created for them?

MdB: It’s not five-star, but very comfortable and convenient. Actors can be seen or not be seen on their “off” days in between performances so it’s kind of a shared sanctuary, thanks to Pieter’s vision. The Theatre on the Bay is just seven minutes’ walk along the seaboard with sunset views – no transport is required. Other transport options are available at a moment’s notice, as are shopping malls and additional entertainment or tourism spots.

The front entrance with pictures of movie stars. Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Did you work with an architect and/or interior designer?

PT: Not at all. the main objective was to maximise capacity while still allowing each room and area to feel clean and uncluttered. As time goes by, small changes are constantly being made, allowing the house to be maintained. Functionality is important. With the intense water restrictions in Cape Town came the replacement of deep, antiquated bathtubs with smart shower heads. Additional gutters now feed valuable rain back into both the water tank and the pool.

There is no garden as such – the trees front and back needed pruning back and opened up the house for light and views on all sides. Inside renovations involved the remodelling of the kitchen/dining area for communal living. The “penthouse” room was also cut in half to make an additional room, which created an upmarket suite.

What are your favourite aspects of the property?

PT: For me it is the unprecedented 360 degree view of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles and the never-ending Atlantic horizon.

The size of the house is, of course, also an important aspect. The 13 rooms allow us to comfortably accommodate anywhere from 13 to 26 people.

The proximity to picturesque Camps Bay and Clifton beaches is ideal. Having world-class restaurants, shops and amenities right on the doorstep of our home-from-home means actors really do look forward to their season in Cape Town.

Any general house anecdotes?

MdB: After-performance opening night parties are best where all cast members celebrate, or a cast member’s birthday.

Many “off days” see planned barbeques, or celebratory surprise dinners being prepared by potential gourmet culinary cooks sharing their “other” hidden talents – all of them competing for Top Chef.

Gaming card nights usually go on well into the early hours of the morning after the curtain has come down.

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