Doors Open!

Sep 26 2015 | By More

Theatre buildings open this weekend

For anyone heading off for a peak behind Edinburgh’s normally closed doors this weekend, 25/26 September 20915, a half dozen theatre buildings are taking part in Doors Open Day.

Most intriguing is St Stephen’s, the church at the bottom of Howe Street in the New Town, which is in a state of transition and open both days. It will also be a chance to catch up on the latest plans for both Leith Theatre and the Assembly Rooms which are both open Sunday.

St Stephens

St Stephens

Of the working theatres, the Traverse is open today (Saturday) with backstage tours, while the Lyceum next door is holding a big family day on Sunday. At the other end of the Meadows, Summerhall with its warren of studios and small theatre spaces will be open both days.

St Stephen’s (Sat/Sun) was bought by the Benzies Foundation last year in circumstances which appeared to be controversial at the time, and were at least secretive. Known as the St Stephen’s Centre for several years, it has now been re-branded as Saint Stephen’s, Stockbridge.

The William Playfair designed building was used successfully during this last fringe as Momentum Venues. Any chance to ascend the 50m high tower should certainly be taken, for the views from the top. There will be organ recitals on the hour and, one hopes, a chance to find out a bit more about the Foundation’s long-term plans for the building which is due for renovation over the coming years.

Plans for Leith Theatre (Sun) are better known, with the Leith Theatre Trust aiming to bring the building, opened in 1932, back to life as a “vibrant cultural centre for performance, the visual arts, and community events”. This will be a chance to see how far those plans have advanced and what the next stages of the project might be.

Up in the New Town, the Edinburgh Council-run Assembly Rooms (Sun) might appear to have bedded down after the recent major refurbishment. However, with the Council looking for huge financial savings, the management of the rooms – and the Church HIll Theatre incidentally – is the subject of speculation.

Such a showpiece venue is not under threat, but change is certainly afoot. The contract to run the venue during the fringe was put out to tender this summer, despite being successfully run by the Stand for four years. The aim, to maximise income from the venue, makes the council open to all ideas. This will be an opportunity to understand a bit more about its thinking.

The Traverse (Sat) is running backstage tours around the underground theatre, a new-build venue in the basement of offices it was opened 1992 in what was descriptively known as the Hole in the Ground, off Lothian Road.

The Royal Lyceum (Sun) was opened in 1883, with 2,500 patrons in on the opening night. The auditorium holds rather fewer in today’s more health and safety-orientated times. Originally a receiving house, the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this week, on October 1. Besides backstage tours, there will be children’s activities and workshops in the theatre.

Summerhall (Sat/Sun) is in the former Royal (Dick) Vet School and is now a creative hub for the arts. It is home to over fifty resident artists and companies, some of whom will be hosting open studio days. Onsite company Pickerings Gin is taking part in Doors Open Day in its own right, while the theatre spaces open to the public will include the Dissection Room, the Anatomy Lecture Theatre and the Autopsy Room.

This year’s event (Doors Open Weekend for the pedantic) is the 25th organised by the Cockburn Association. Full details of the 121 venues taking part are available on their website and there is an app available for iPhone.


The Royal Lyceum
Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX
Venue #35 open Sunday 27: 10am-4pm
Fun filled activities for children inspired by our Christmas production The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Guided backstage tours to find out more about the history of The Lyceum.
Activities: guided tours, behind the scenes access, children’s activities, stewards/volunteers at key points.

Leith Theatre
28 FerryRoad, EH6 4AE
Venue # 41. Open Sunday 27: 12 noon-4pm.
Activities: guided tours, information leaflets/notes, visual displays.

Assembly Rooms
54 George Street, EH2 2LR
Venue #59
Open Sunday 27: 11am-4pm.
Activities: guided tours, visual displays, stewards/volunteers at key points.

1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL
Venue #98
Open Saturday 26/Sunday 27: 10am-6pm.
The Zoom Club children’s space will have special children’s activities.
Activities: information leaflets/notes, children’s activities, visual displays, stewards/volunteers at key points, video/ audio presentations, refreshments, visual arts exhibitions, open artists studios.

Saint Stephen’s, Stockbridge
(Formerly known as the St Stephen’s Centre)
St Stephen Street, EH3 5AB
Venue #101
Open Saturday 26: 10am-4.30pm, Sunday 27: 1pm-4.30pm.
Organ recitals on the hour lasting about 30 mins throughout the day.
Activites: guides, information leaflets/ notes, baby, children and parent activities, visual displays, architectural models, stewards/volunteers at key points, video/ audio presentations, musical recitals.

Traverse Theatre
10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Venue #113
Open Saturday 26: 10am-12.15pm.
Special offers available to Edinburgh Doors Open Day bookers will be advertised on the website.
Activities: guided tours, behind the scenes access, visual displays, refreshments



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