Opera Scotland

Edinburgh Theatre, Canongate Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Theatre in Canongate was built in 1746. It operated from 1747 to 1769, usually as the Canongate Concert Hall. David Ross, the then proprietor of the Edinburgh Theatre, succeeded in raising the funds for a new Theatre Royal by issuing shares to fund a building over the other side of Nor' Loch.

Where was this Edinburgh Theatre?  In Dibdin's Annals of the Edinburgh Stage (1888) there are clues to the precise location in Canongate, one statement being that it was in Gray's Close, and another that it was opposite the site of New Street.  More information would be welcome.

The theatre must have been small indeed, Dibdin quoting  the story of a scene painter, who talks of the poor rate for painting a 'front' fifteen square feet!  He calculated the capacity of the theatre as being six hundred or thereby, and states that the demand for theatre was such as to allow for only three or four performances a week. He refers to one occasion when a performance was moved as it clashed with an advocates' ball.

The history of the theatre involved successive financial crises and the coming and going of managements.

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