Whoever goes through Rose-Hill, one of the oldest and most populous towns in Mauritius, cannot but admire four handsome monuments forming a historic square. This space brings together the Catholic church of Notre Dame de Lourdes erected in 1890, the Mauritian Montmartre chapel of 1940, the venerable colonial house known as the Maison Carné and the municipal building which includes the Plaza theatre.History of the building
The Plaza theatre forms part of a municipal complex that the local authorities decided to erect in 1927 following a petition from the inhabitants requesting the
construction of ‘a theatre worthy of the growing importance’ of the locality. In those days, only one place could accommodate the companies that came each year to
Mauritius to perform operas or operettas, namely the Port-Louis theatre. Consequently, when performing outside of the capital, the companies were obliged to accept
the rather narrow stages of unsuitable cinema halls. At the same time, given the ongoing development of the town, the local authorities were eager to have a permanent
headquarters and space for offices.
A national competition led to the choice of the present structure, i.e. three bodies surrounded by stone-built stairs, linked but independent one from the other, with one aisle for municipal offices, another forming a wide hall where balls and banquets could be organized, and the main central body for the theatre auditorium.
From the very start, the project –ambitious to start with – was even more ambitious as regards the size and dimensions of the theatre itself and the fact is that it remains nowadays one of the most beautiful in the south-west of the Indian Ocean. Built in the Italian style and thus enjoying excellent acoustics, it can host up to 1500 spectators with its 54 boxes, 450 first class seats, 422 second class seats, 426 third class seats and the standing gallery for 100 more spectators.
The stage zone (a turning stage since the 1980s) for the artists and the stagehands is as wide as the spectator’s zone and makes it possible to maximize the show both in depth and in height. Thanks to the expert advice of a French producer Louis Tharaud who was then living in Rose Hill, important building errors regarding the stage were avoided.