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The Victoria Theatre, Dundee formerly the Gaiety Theatre / Victoria Hall - Courtesy Graeme Smith.During the 19th century Dundee`s linen industries changed over to the new jute industries, making it Britain’s Juteopolis, joining with shipping and engineering expansion - all of which increased the city’s population greatly.

In the 16th and early 17th century the Wedderburns of Dundee were poets, playwrights and reformers – one becoming a Protestant Bishop – and active in staging plays around the time of Sir David Lyndsay and his famed morality play “Ane Satyre of the Three Estaites”, first performed in nearby Cupar in 1552.

Right - The Victoria Theatre, Dundee formerly the Gaiety Theatre / Victoria Hall - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

In later times circuses and entertainers set up their stalls and pavilions, later the Penny Gaffs, for the annual Fair in the Meadows and for months on the streets around Yeaman`s Shore which were later overwhelmed by new docks and railways. Some performers, including Horatio Lloyd in the 1850s, took short leases of temporary premises and later took up permanent buildings. The most notable of these were William McFarland (creating theatres in Dundee and Aberdeen), and whose first major success was staging Little Red Riding Hood in the spacious, wooden, Alhambra; and the Livermore Brothers (originally from Northumberland) whose Minstrel Company toured widely and developed theatres in Dundee, Aberdeen and towns in England. They also ran circuses. Robert Arthur launched his British circuit of theatres from Dundee in the 1890s.

By the 1930s the city was cinema-daft, second in enthusiasm only to Glasgow, and Green`s Playhouse in the Nethergate (complete with its theatrical stage) was the second largest cinema in Europe.

Today the story of theatre in Dundee is typified by William McFarland`s achievements and by two theatres – the King’s Theatre which is the largest still remaining but is now a Night Club; and the modern but small auditorium of the Dundee Repertory Theatre.

This Article on Dundee Theatres was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in February 2013.

Theatres and Halls in Dundee, Scotland - Index

Alhambra Theatre / State Cinema / Whitehall Theatre - In Theatrical Use

Alhambra Music Hall - Demolished

Dundee Music Hall and Opera House / Excelsior Theatre - In Theatrical Use

Dundee Repertory Theatre - In Theatrical Use

Empire Theatre - Demolished

Gaiety Theatre / Victoria Hall / Victoria Theatre - Demolished

Green's Playhouse - In Bingo Use

Her Majesty's Theatre - In Bar Use

Hippodrome Theatre / Princess Theatre / Cinema - Demolished

Kinnaird Hall / Corn Exhange / Kinnaird Picture House - Demolished

King's Theatre - In Nightclub Use

Palace Theatre / People's Palace Theatre / Savoy Cinema / Theatre Royal - Demolished

People's Palace Music Hall / Prince of Wales Theatre - Demolished

Queen's Theatre - Demolished

Theatre Royal, Yeaman Shore - Demolished

Theatre Royal, Castle Street - Part Surviving

Tivoli Theatre - Demolished


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