When I think of theatres I think of plays – comic, dramatic, tragic or controversial. Yet so many theatres began life entertaining with music, circus and pantomime. The Palace Theatre (not to be confused with the Victoria Palace) on Charing Cross Road, which was built in 1891, was no exception, it was originally called Royal […]

It’s a nickname, Old Vic, and it’s been around for a long time, since at least 1880. It stands for Royal Victoria Theatre. But that wasn’t its first name. Just like the Royal family, the theatre had a Germanic name – Royal Coburg Theatre. Designed in 1818 by Rudolph Cabanel, a German architect, the theatre […]

The establishment of a national theatre in Britain was a long affair. Given that the country is home to Shakespeare and other great early playwrights it might seem odd that it was only in the 1960s that the country finally had one… not a dedicated building, but a national theatre company. In 1847 Dramaticus (a […]

The paying guests of Druimard Guest House on the Isle of Mull were lucky people. From 1963 every Thursday their hosts entertained them with Thursday Theatre in what would become the ‘smallest professional theatre in the world’ (according to the Guinness Book of Records) – the Mull Little Theatre. Professional actors Barrie and Marianne Hesketh […]

There are a few Lyceum theatres – Sheffield, Crewe, Oldham – but the one to mention is London’s Lyceum. It’s old. Originating in 1765 the Lyceum had several incarnations that don’t fit with modern theatres, including life as a chapel and hosting Madame Tussaud’s waxworks. When it was managed by Samuel Arnold (son of the […]

London may have many grand theatres but it doesn’t have a monopoly. Take the King’s Theatre in Southsea, Portsmouth. Grade II listed and designated as of national importance by the Theatre Trust, and a great example of Edwardian theatre architecture. Who designed it? Frank Matcham, the man who designed 150 theatres of which only 30 […]

A theatre is a building. A place. Who decided it had to have a stage with three tiers? Or seat thousands? Why does it have to be purpose built? In small communities, where money is tight, and people have little spare cash, reusing buildings is a common solution. With declining church membership, many old churches […]

Continuing the theme of Theatre through the ages… The intermission, or interval, is the mid-point of a theatrical performance when the sets might be changed, the actors have a breather, and the audience dash to the toilets. The point of the break is often at a crucial moment and we’re left in suspense wondering what […]

To have a theatre named after you must be the height of achievement for anyone associated with the theatre. So I’ve two to share for you. Harold Pinter – Nobel prize winner, producer, playwright and actor – had a career that lasted fifty years. Famed for plays such as Sleuth, The Go-Between and The French […]

Theatres in London took off after the English Reformation when the first public playhouse was opened by James Burbage in 1576. It was simply named The Theatre. The next to open was call… The Curtain. The Theatre was dismantled and moved south of the River Thames, rebuilt and called The Globe. The Globe was owned […]

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