Site Name: Theatre Royal, Edinburgh
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location
Address: Shakespeare Square, Edinburgh (intersection of North Bridge and Waterloo Place, East end of Princes Street). Click here for map
Alternate Names: First Theatre Royal, Edinburgh (retrospective label)
Performance Space Description: Images of the exterior of the theatre reveal it to be a rather grand, stately building fronted by a covered entrance way. Little information about the performance space itself has yet been found, though James Dibdin mentions (in Annals of the Edinburgh Stage) that the stage was larger than that at the nearby Adelphi Theatre.
Audience Composition: It seems that at least a portion of the theatre’s typical audience was drawn from the fashionable, well-to-do members of Edinburgh society. Several images show horse-drawn carriages lined up in front of the theatre entrance.
Typical Fare:: The National Library of Scotland site suggests that, while the Theatre Royal became especially famous for its adaptations of Sir Walter Scott’s historical novels, the entertainments on offer could range “from performances of Macbeth to lectures on astronomy, and from musical comedies to military bands.” A detailed account of the performances and performers at the theatre throughout its history can be found in Annals of the Edinburgh Stage.
Construction of the Theatre Royal began in March 1768, and it first opened to public in December of 1769.
The theatre was especially successful and prosperous under the management of Sarah Siddons and various members of her family. (She and her husband Henry took over the theatre in 1809, while her brother joined her after her husband’s death in 1815 and stayed on until he retired in 1851.)
In the 1850s, however, the theatre struggled, until, in 1859, the building was purchased by the government and demolished. The General Post Office (still extant) was then erected on the old Theatre Royal site.
Please see the 'Bibliographic Sources' link at right for a complete listing of materials (both primary and secondary) from which the above information was compiled.
Additional information can be found in the following sources (not yet accessed)
Findlay, Bill (ed.) A History of Scottish Theatre. Edinburgh: Polygon, 1998.