Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Pitlochy Festival Theatre
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Pitlochy Festival Theatre

Theatre, cinema and music venue, located at Port-na-Craig on the right bank of the River Tummel, a quarter-mile (0.5 km) southwest of the centre of Pitlochry. The Pitlochry Festival Theatre opened on 19th May 1981, with a performance of Storm in a Teacup by James Bridie (1888 - 1951), the foundation stone having been laid 20 months previously by Lord Home of the Hirsel. This building replaced a temporary venue which had been established by Glasgow theatre impresario John Stewart in a field at Lower Oakfield exactly thirty years before, as part of his dream to nurture an international arts festival in the Scottish Highlands. This was a semi-permanent tent structure, the authorities having been unwilling to approve the use of valuable building materials in the times of rationing which followed World War II. This venture was opened on the 19th May 1951 by Tom Johnston (1881 - 1965), the former Secretary of State for Scotland who by that stage was Chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board and had been a great supporter of the project. The first performance was the British premiere of Maxwell Anderson's Mary of Scotland, with English actor Joss Ackland as Lord Darnley.

The theatre struggled for many years, not least when a storm in the Autumn of 1952 almost destroyed the tent. Stewart created the Pitlochry Festival Society, as a non-profit operating company, and gave over his home and the theatre.

The theatre also serves as a venue for folk and classical music, together with craft, painting and performance workshops. In 2003, the Pitlochry Festival Society opened the Scottish Plant Hunter's Garden next to the theatre as a joint venture with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

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