Traverse Reaches 50

Dec 31 2012 | By More

Walk to mark Traverse’s anniversary on January 2

The cover of Joyce McMillan’s “The Traverse Theatre Story” published by Methuen in 1988

By Thom Dibdin

A tour of the three sites occupied by Edinburgh’s Traverse theatre over its 50 year history has been organised for January the 2nd, 2013 – the actual anniversary of the theatre’s opening in 1963.

The tour has been organised by Scotsman theatre critic Joyce McMillan, who wrote The Traverse Theatre Story, published in 1988 to commemorate the theatre’s first 25 years.

McMillan said: “There will be many events during this year to mark the 50th anniversary, including the exciting Traverse 50 playwrights project just announced.

“But to mark the midwinter birthday itself, let’s get together for a small, pop-up Traverse walk early on Wednesday evening, starting outside the current Traverse in Cambridge Street at 6.30, and heading back in time, via the second Traverse in the Grassmarket, to end around 7.30 curtain-up time in James Court, where it all began.

“History, memories, celebration, followed by a round of hot whiskies in the Jolly Judge pub, James Court.”

According to McMillan, writing in the opening chapter of her history:

“The Traverse Theatre opened in James Court, just off the Edinburgh Lawnmarket, on the night of 2 January 1963. The place was Kelly’s Paradise, a crumbling former doss-house and brothel, barely a stone’s throw from the Castle; and the play was Sartre’s Huis Clos, presented in a double bill with Fernando Arrabal’s Orisons; the weather was icy, so much so that the capacity audience of 60 invited guests shivered their way through supper in evening dress and heavy overcoats.

“At the second performance, the actress Colette O’Neil was accidentlly stabbed on stage with a paperknife and almost bled to death; the publicity wa tremendous, advance bookings soared, and the theatre, in the words of its first director Terry Lane, ‘never looked back’.”

This will be a low-key affair. If you would like to take part please get in touch with Æ via the contact page at: and we’ll pass on further details.


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