Theatre could be closed for months

Rhumbelow Theatre manager Roland Stansell surveys the roof damage at the Durban theatre in Umbilo’s Cunningham Road. Metal jacks have been fitted to support the cracked beams discovered in the roof. All pictures by Bryan Hiles.

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BILLY SUTER reports that roofing woes could see the Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo, Durban, closed for six months. Shows planned for the theatre will now be staged at another venue.
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IN THE good old showbusiness tradition, the show will go on for Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre franchise – but not for a few months at the Umbilo venue, in the shellhole of the same name, in Cunningham Road.

Plans for a simple ceiling replacement there, following recent storm damage, have now led to the opening of a whole new can of worms, as it has been discovered that beams in the roof are cracked and pose a danger.

Repairs could take up to six months as a result of financial issues and availability of a work team, says Roland Stansell, manager and entertainment co-ordinator of the Rhumbelow Theatre group, which also has branches at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof and the Allan Wilson shellhole in Pietermaritzburg.

“As far I am concerned the Umbilo building is condemned and it seems highly likely we will have to replace the entire roof to ensure safety,” he adds.

Roofing woes could see the Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo, Durban, closed for up to six months. Shows planned for the theatre will now be staged at another venue, to be announced by mid-January.

A cracked beam was discovered the day after Christmas, when Bryan Hiles, who was project managing the ceiling repairs, arrived with his team to remove all lighting and projectors at the venue for routine cleaning and maintenance.

When the damaged ceiling was removed it was noticed that a beam was cracked and there were signs of previous repairs where extra battons had been added. That, however, was done as far back as 1956, says Roland.

A day after the cracked beam was noticed, a representative of the repair team noticed three fresh cracks in the roof.

“It needs to be inspected by engineers for safety, and in all likelihood will mean that the roof rafters will need to be completely replaced. This is a money and time issue.”

Roland says all shows booked for the Durban venue, the first of which was planned for early February next year, will be moved to another temporary venue, to be announced by mid-January.

“Please note that the Rhumbelow theatre in Durban is not closing down,” Roland posted on his Facebook page after rumour had spread… and someone had even contacted him to hear he might be emigrating.

“I am not going anywhere – other than on a cruise holiday which will see me back on January 16,” says Roland, who has been running the Umbilo theatre for 16-and-a-half years.

If anyone is in a position to make a donations towards theatre repair costs, please email Roland at roland@stansell.za.net.

Banking details for the Rhumbelow Shellhole are as follows:

Branch Code : STANDARD BANK GALE PLACE 042526
Account No : 051185989 (SAVINGS)
Name of Account : Rhumbelow Shellhole
Email : roland@stansell.za.net with deposit

“We are looking forward to a good 2018 and great shows. Please keep your eyes on social media for details regarding shows for Umbilo – and at which venue they will be presented.”

Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo has been operating for 16-and-a-half years.

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