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Theatre Royal

Thomas Boyd

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Important events

(detail)1792 | construction
It was designed by the local architect Thomas Boyd. It is thought that he took inspiration from the Theatre Royal in Bristol and the Shakespeare Square example in Edinburgh.
(detail)29.9.1792 | Opening

(detail)1876 | Alteration
It was remodelled by C. J. Phipps and the exterior was altered from a simple classical-style pedimented entrance elevation with a projecting portico to the building which we see today.
(detail)1909 | closure
In 1909 it closed, and from 1911 to 1954 it was used as a cinema.
(detail)1960 | Alteration
In 1959 the Dumfries Guild of Players, a long-established amateur group, bought it, and after carrying out some internal reconstruction, reopened it as a theatre the following year. The interior has been altered and it is mostly by Colin Morton of 1959–60, although it retains a decorative iron gallery front in the auditorium by Phipps.



The exterior style most often chosen for these early theatre buildings was classical. Internally they were often courtyard style with a stage that projected well in front of the proscenium arch. Scenery was changed by sliding flats along grooves in the stage floor. As theatre-going was at this time still seen as somewhat disreputable, the classical style of architecture helped to foster a sense of legitimacy and respectability. While 18th-century theatre survivals are rare, the late-19th-century introduction of electric lighting and the safety curtain to prevent fires on stage reaching the audience, as well as other fire safety measures, have left us with an impressive legacy of late-Victorian and Edwardian theatres.


IN: Acting with confidence. Scotland's theatre architecture. p 10



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