Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Venue name: Traverse Theatre

Location: Edinburgh. Originally at James Court; 1969 moved to a loft space in the Grassmarket; 1992 to 10 Cambridge Street.

Established: 1962

Founders: It was founded in 1963 by John Calder, Jim Haynes and Richard Demarco. Terry Hands was the first Artistic Director, then Jim Hayes (from 1964-66) followed by Gordon McDougall (with Max Stafford-Clark as Associate Director). In 1970 Michael Rudman took over – being succeeded by: Mike Ockrent (from 1973); Chris Parr (from 1976); Peter Lichenfels (from 1981) and Jennie  Kellick (from 1985).

Current status: Still operating. Its current location is 10 Cambridge Street, Edinburgh. See Traverse Theatre


History: In 1962 the Cambridge Footlights performed a late night revue as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in a temporary nightclub – The Spinx, at the Lawnmarket, Edinburgh. After the festival the venue was converted into a permanent theatre with two facing banks of seats. Terry Lanes was the first artistic director of what was called The Traverse Theatre  through a misremembered term for this ‘transverse’ seating arrangement.  Jim Hayes  was artistic director  from 1964-66 and was followed by Gordon McDougall with Max Stafford-Clark as Associate Director.   In 1969 the Traverse Theatre moved to a loft space in Grassmarket,  accommodating more seating and allowing  for flexible seating arrangements. The old premises became the base for Max Stafford-Clark’s Traverse Theatre Workshop. Whilst always specialising in commissioned  new writing, touring companies such as The People Show, Portable Theatre, Freehold and Lindsey Kemp Theatre  Troupe were regular performers. In 1985 the Traverse opened The Traverse Downstairs Theatre in an ex-car repair workshop. In 1992, the Traverse moved to a £3.3 million purpose-built two theatre space with bar café.


Interviewee reference: Jim Haynes, Max Stafford-Clark

Links: Traverse Theatre Wikipedia Page
Traverse Theatre

Bibliography: The Traverse Theatre Story 1963-1988 by Joyce McMillan with a chronology of productions mounted by The Traverse Theatre during its first 25 years, compiled by John Carnegie. Published Methuen Drama 1988. This book is available for reference only at Unfinished Histories Archive at Bishopsgate Institution.

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