28 Mai 2010 | Windhoek
Backstage - welcome home
When Frank Dornbach and Natascha Lamoela first met eight years ago, quite by coincidence, they decided to join forces. Frank is a theatre management graduate, while Natascha has studied drama and stage production. A total of 20 artists teamed up under the name Avalon. For several years the musicians, jugglers and dancers travelled around the country together and performed at various events, private parties and corporate functions. For storing their costumes and props they rented an office opposite the former factory building which now houses Backstage. "Long ago there was a pizzeria here for some time, then the premises were standing empty for years until we rented them for practice sessions", Frank says. "But at some stage we felt that there ought to be more. We had been travelling for long enough and we wanted our own little stage, wanted to be at home somewhere at last." And so they decided to refurbish the building in 20 Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Street (formerly Kruppstraße) in the Southern Industrial Area. "The banks had no faith in our project, however, or they were unable to understand the concept. As a result we had to finance everything ourselves." And building went on full steam while they rehearsed their performances. It took the artists one-and-a-half years to make their idea and dreams come true and create their own little kingdom.
The entire factory building was renovated, the staircase and entrance hall were painted orange and black. "Black is the traditional colour of theatre", Frank explains. "Usually the stage is black and actors mostly wear black clothes for rehearsals. We added orange as a symbol for the new energy which we want to create in this theatre." The bar is adorned by theatre masks, the walls are decorated with costumes used for earlier extravaganzas of the Avalon group. On one side of the auditorium there is a row of small separate rooms which have been elaborately decorated to represent various themes. These rooms are intended to entice guests to have a drink in a flowering Peter Pan scene for a change or in an evil looking pirate dive. "I can't wait to see how guests will react to this and how they will use it," Frank says.
All of this is also the artists' own handiwork. Themes chosen from a movie or a play were lovingly recreacted with appropriate fabrics and decorations.
The whole point of a dinner theatre is, of course, that drinks and delicious food are served before and even during the shows - the Backstage is the first dinner theatre in Windhoek. "In Europe the combination of dining and performing arts has been around for a long time already and it is also very successful in South Africa", says Frank. "It's been missing in Namibia until now."
Tables and chairs in the auditorium are rearranged depending on the type of performance. "We want to be flexible and offer something new to our audience as often as possible. Our aim is to reach a point where Windhoekers just get into the car on a Friday or Saturday evening and drive here to see what we have lined up for that day", Frank says.
While we are still busy with the interview, Natascha comes up the stairs, happiness written all over her face. She briefly joins us and says: "I am so glad that we did this. Every day when I come in I feel that I have finally arrived."
A stage performance is scheduled for every Friday and Saturday evening. The bar and restaurant are open from 17h00 until 23h00.
The Bistro is open Mondays to Thursdays from 18h00 and offers an international á la carte menu which changes with the seasons.
For further details call 081-2774212 or email [email protected]