The Traverse Theatre at 50

We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of an Edinburgh cultural institution with a specially curated exhibition.

January 2nd 1963 saw the birth of a Theatre Club housed in an abandoned brothel in the Lawnmarket. From inauspicious beginnings, the Traverse Theatre has grown in scale and stature over the years to a global reputation for producing innovative, must-see Theatre.

Taking images from the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection’s theatre archive, material from the ‘Traverse Archive’ kindly loaned by the National Library of Scotland and specially commissioned photographs of the Traverse in its 50th year, the exhibition traces the history of the theatre from its early days in Edinburgh’s Lawnmarket, via its second location in the Grassmarket, right up to present day production shots taken during the dress rehearsal for ‘Arthur Conan Doyle’s Appreciation Society’.

The Traverse Theatre was given its name by Terry Lane, its first Artistic Director who had mistaken the name of the ‘transverse’ staging arrangement. However, he realised too late as the name had already stuck for Edinburgh’s newest theatre. Today, the Traverse Theatre is synonymous with new writing and over the years has helped launch the careers of some of Scotland’s most prestigious and best-loved playwrights, including John Byrne, David Greig, David Harrower and Liz Lochhead.

Our ‘Fifty Years of the Traverse Theatre’ exhibition runs on the Central Library Mezzanine from 3rd January to 27th February. However, if you can’t make it in, you can view our online exhibition to enjoy a behind the scenes tour of the Traverse through the years.


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