Things To Do in GardensLabia Theatre on Orange
Where? Labia on Orange - 68 Orange Street, Gardens, City Bowl, Cape Town
When? Daily. Check the daily newspaper for programme and screening times
How? Call +27 (0)21 424-5927
How much? Falls into price group R1 to R100 per person. Confirm with the provider.
The kinky name is a contradiction to the theatre's elegant contribution to film. The authentic Art Deco building features frames of history in its grand dame fašade while flickering fames of Hollywood on its big screens. The curved architecture originally carved its place into the Cape as a plush venue for the Ballroom events of the Italian Embassy.
As the Mother City's oldest independent movie house it has portrayed the leaps in cinema entertainment in the rooms that once danced the footsteps of the socialites. A proud cultural institution (never screening any 'skin flicks') its name honours its royal founder, Princess Labia who cut out the ballroom activities; cutting the ribbon that opened the space as a theatre in 1949. This starlet structure of the 70's held live theatre performances and hosted the first film screenings. In 1989, Ludi Kraus, took ownership of the historical site and introduced three additional screens to the theatres entertainment charm.
The Labia Theatre on Orange is now a dedicated cinema venue comprising of a 167 seater theatre, a 67 seater theatre, a 66 seater theatre and an intimate Mnet theatre. Main stream, commercial, block busters and Oscar winning films are screened in an arty ambiance. Indie films, documentaries, controversial conversations and niche film festivals are given theatre exposure.
Local and international shorts and features captivate movie-goers earning the venue a well-loved following. Wooden panelled walls and vintage remnants evoke childhood memories of first encounters in the audience of cinema with wide-eyed awe. An antiquated ticket booth from cinema's golden age still parts with tickets of admission to the magic. Popcorn fills the air with a buttered whimsy and brown bags with the traditional movie snack. Refreshments are served at the Labia on Orange which is the only local theatre with a liquor licence.
Romance films where love scenes unfold before an on screen fireplace can be accompanied by red wine in the audience. Champagne glasses can be raised to toast a big screen hero's victory and the effects of a horror can be eased with a warm mug of cocoa spiked with whiskey. The cosy coffee bar keeps the film culture awake and debating deeper movie meanings over home-made delicacies. The courtyard terrace keeps a movie date out of the glare of malls. A history of waltzing keeps the heritage of entertainment appreciated.