Byre Theatre

An important and well-loved regional theatre in the E of Scotland, the Byre Theatre is located on Abbey Street in St. Andrews (Fife). The current theatre building is the third on the site and was opened in 2001 by Sir Sean Connery (b.1930). It was designed by architects Nicoll Russell Studios of Broughty Ferry and cost £5.5 million. It has a 216-seat auditorium, 100-seat studio theatre and other spaces giving an overall capacity of 550, together with a bar and restaurant.

The theatre was founded in 1933 by Alexander B. Paterson, a local freelance journalist and playwright, with actor Charles Marford, and supported by the theatre group of Hope Park Church in St. Andrews. It was based in a semi-derelict cow byre which had formed part of the Abbey Street Dairy Farm. The group cleaned out the byre and, without seating, offered the audience cushions for the floor. The Byre Theatre soon acquired an enviable reputation for its performances and was attracting audiences which could barely be accommodated. In 1969 this original building was demolished and, following a vigorous fundraising campaign, a new theatre constructed nearby, which opened the following year. Within 20 years it was realised these new facilities were inadequate, and plans were again developed for something better, which led to the current building.

Running a theatre continued to prove a challenge and it briefly closed following financial difficulties in 2013. The Byre Theatre was leased by the University of St. Andrews and supported by Fife Council and Creative Scotland was able to open its doors once again the following year. With its future secured, the theatre is now able to offer a full programme of professional, amateur and student productions, as well as serving as an educational resource and music venue.

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