Theatre Royal, Edinburgh (theatre: 1767-1859: Edinburgh, Scotland)

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The Theatre Royal was opened with its first performance in Shakespeare's Square on Princes' Street, Edinburgh, in December 1767 . For the next ninety years the theatre would be at the centre of the most important developments in Scottish cultural life. However, opposition to the theatre from the Kirk, combined with a government censor meant that there were limitations over what could be staged for its first forty years of existence. With the arrival of Sir Walter Scott all this changed, since he was a patron of the theatre. The historical novels that he wrote were also very suitable for adaptation to the stage, and he was able to disguise their forthright, unabashed references to the politics of the day under the guise of fiction. In this way Scotland could reflect on current day events through the medium of drama.

During this period the Theatre Royal benefited from having very good managers. It was run by the actors Henry and Sarah Siddons from 1809-1815, and thereafter, by his wife and her brother William Murray, until his retirement in 1851. The next few years witnessed the decline of the theatre, as the new railway network encouraged actors to travel out of the city. On top of this, interest in writing for the theatre also diminished. Although several new Theatre Royals were to be built in Edinburgh, its golden age ended with the closure of the Princes' Street premises in May 1859 .

From the guide to the Playbills from the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1824-1829, (Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department)

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creatorOf Playbills from the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1824-1829 Glasgow University Library Special Collections
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associatedWith Scott Sir Walter 1771-1832 person
associatedWith Theatre Royal (Edinburgh, Scotland) corporateBody
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Performing Arts
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