The Market Theatre, based in the vibrant inner-city suburb of Newtown in Johannesburg, South Africa, was opened in 1976, operating as an independent, non-racial theatre during the country’s apartheid regime. It is named for the site on which it stands, which was originally a produce market, also known as the Old Indian Market or the Newtown Market, which closed after 60 years of trade and relocated to another part of the city.
In 1974 a group of theatre people came together, called The Company, and included Mannie Manim and the late Barney Simon. They began fundraising to restore the neglected complex that housed the old produce market in downtown Johannesburg.
The Market Theatre complex houses three theatres: the Barney Simon Theatre (opened in June 1976), the Main Theatre (opened in October 1976) and the Laager Theatre (named in 1979). In addition to hosting productions, the theatres are also used for conferences, seminars, presentations and product launches.