The Barnyard, Plettenberg Bay under New Management
Mel Botes has been very involved in the music industry. He is an established adult contemporary singer; songwriter; producer and multi-instrumentalist, who are known for his versatility, goodwill undertakings as well as his own solo career. Mel is also the owner of an established production company. Storm Produktionz produces quality theatre productions. They are well received in the upper end of the ROCK & ROLL community, playing music in up market theatres, to sophisticated and knowledgeable audiences. This has been achieved through careful selection of the productions we involve ourselves in, and the brand value of the STORM Group.
‘Our goal is to restore the Barnyard to its former glory with world class sound systems and even better entertainment”.
The Barnyard is in one of the most beautiful parts of the Garden Route. It is surrounded by forest tranquillity. Situated just 15 minutes from Plett on the N2 towards PE. The venue has been in operation for the past 20 years and is well known and loved by locals and visitors alike and has hosted most of South Africa’s top artists and performers. The first show ever was held on 22 March 1996.
With a capacity of 225 for live music events or plays and up to 150 people. The Barnyard theatre is also available to the public for events such as weddings, conferences and other functions.
Two small blonde boys dash across the lawn, a cashbox firmly tucked under the arm of the eldest. “We’re late, Ma’s going to open the doors and we’ve still got to cut the cakes and the Irish coffee glasses need a polish!” “Are you ready guys? I’m going to let them in, it’s time!” I open the doors. “Hi Sue, hi John, welcome, you’re in the limelight box tonight. Mrs Manning! Good evening, party of eight? You’re second table form the left, in front of the stage.
The theatre fills up, that magic buzz of a full house is tangible, the smell of wood chips, red wine and gourmet picnic baskets. Louis gives me the signal, I move in next to him behind the sound desk and pick up a small black box with a couple of levers – the lighting system! I glance over my right shoulder to Marius, 14 years old, and Heinrich, two years his junior, in the bar/coffee shop, time to kill the lights… It’s Showtime Folks!!
We, the Möllers, have both been involved in the performing arts most of our lives, Louis as co-founder and producer of amongst others, Carte Blanche, and me Sybel Coetzee, as a freelance actress and TV presenter. In 1989 we took stock of our hectic lives and decided that family comes first, with the result – goodbye Joburg, hallo, brave new world, a dairy farm close to Plettenberg Bay. After a few years of farming we longed for a way to combine our two loves – the footlights and our farm. That was 1996, the birth of The Barnyard Theatres. Why Barnyard? Louis had built a beautiful, rustic American-style wooden barn on the farm and this we converted into a theatre with an old-world atmosphere, heavy wooden beams, a horseshoe gallery, big, big tables with welcoming lanterns and wood chips on the floor. What a happy happening this has been! We had enormous fun with this our first very much hands-on family affair.
Our very first productions was called An Evening of Love Songs. Talented locals put together quite an impressive show. Our audience loved it, but the star of the evening was undoubtedly The Barnyard. The first taste of our homely, rustic farm theatre where friends and family could be entertained and eat, drink and talk into the small hours of the morning proved to be a winner, and they wanted more. Louis’ old Joburg company produced a hit show A Handful of Keys with Ian von Memerty and Brian Schimmel, They honoured our play-play theatre with a handful of shows and the ocean loving people of Plett and Knysna were now on the hook – this time on theatre!
My booking office was my cell phone and a scrap of paper was eagerly produced be it whilst milking cows or taking oysters off the rocks. The children were so young, Heinrich could hardly peep over the bar counter, but that was their business. They had to do the stocktaking, buy in the drinks and cake and make it work. Louis expanded the theatre, continually upgraded it technically and negotiated with artists and they all graced our little 6 x 10 metre stage, from Peter Dirk Uys to the rockers of Roll Over Beethoven.