The Scottish theatre industry - everything you need to know

Scotland has a thriving theatre scene that is recognised internationally. It is completely possible to live in Scotland and work within its amazing theatre industry. This blog highlights where you can find out more about Scottish Theatre.


Producing theatres in Scotland (Large theatres)

What are producing theatres? Producing theatres are theatres that choose their own programme of productions (often referred to as a ‘season’) and create their productions as opposed to smaller theatres who host touring productions or upcoming productions for a short period of time. Their main focus is to present their own productions, however, they can co-produce with other theatres and companies to present work to add to or complete their season. 


Below are a number of well-known producing theatres in Scotland.

Scotland’s New Writing Theatre.


Artistic Director David Greig, one of Scotland’s most celebrated contemporary Playwrights.


Currently undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment and putting work on at the Tramway in Glasgow in the meantime.


Mid-scale theatre in the centre of Glasgow. The current Artistic Director Andy Arnold also founded The Arches, Glasgow’s legendary contemporary performance space which unfortunately closed in 2015.


The last remaining repertory company in Scotland meaning they focus on one repertoire of performances e.g. opera. They have a mixture of permanently employed and shorter-term Actors.


A major venue in the Highlands of Scotland, producing a summer season of 6 plays offered in daily rotation.


Established in 2007 and has a unique structure, being ‘without theatre walls’, dedicated to making work in partnership across Scotland. 


Receiving theatres

Receiving theatres or 'houses' host visiting companies who's productions have been developed elsewhere and are touring around a  number of venues

Below are some well-known receiving houses in Scotland

The King’s Theatre Glasgow

One of Scotland's most historic and significant theatre's, it presents first class shows from a wide range of genres and provides Glasgow's flourishing amateur groups with a high-profile stage.


Theatre Royal

Presents quality drama, dance, comedy and musicals and is home to residents Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet.

Find out what opportunities are available at King's Theatre and Theatre Royal here.


Eden Court Theatre

Open since 1976, this is a large theatre, cinema and arts venue.


Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

This is a performing arts venue used primarily for performances of opera and ballet, large-scale musical events and touring groups. It also has a capacity of 1,915.


King's Theatre, Edinburgh

This is one of Scotland's most historical and important theatres having been active since 1906.


Ayr Gaiety Theatre

This theatre is a 'learning theatre'. Those who study at the nearby University of the West of Scotland have direct access to the resource of the Gaiety Theatre to assist with their studies.


Macrobert Arts Centre

This is a multi-arts venue locations on the main campus of the University of Stirling, Scotland. They offer a varied programme of events and experiences including cinema, comedy, dance, exhibitions, music, opera and theatre


The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh

This is a mid-scale performing arts venue and it part of a wider complex, incorporating council offices. As a whole this is called Brunton Memorial Hall.

Staff at producing theatres (large theatres)

Established producing theatre buildings will have permanent production staff of Carpenters, Costume Makers, Technicians and Stage Managers and hire freelance stage and Lighting Designers for each production if needed. See what Carpenters, Costume Makers, Sound Technicians, Lighting Technicians and Stage Managers  do here. 

Read our blog ‘How to become a freelancer in the theatre industry’ here

Producing theatres will have a team who manage the building, and a team to market and promote the theatres upcoming season (upcoming shows) to the public. See what a Theatre Marketer does here. 

They will also have a team of community and education staff who work with communities and in schools and colleges to encourage people to attend the theatre through different stages of education and participatory projects. See what a Theatre Education Manager does. 


Smaller theatres

Small producing theatres have very small production teams, some not at all and hire freelance staff when needed. These theatres sometimes hire large producing theatres to design and create their sets and costumes. Alternatively they can hire an external company to create their sets and costumes.

Read our blog ‘How to become a freelancer in the theatre industry’ here. 

These smaller theatres usually consist of less than 5 employees including an Artistic Director, Producer or General Manager and possibly some administrative support. They don’t have permanent production/technical staff or Actors. 

Village halls also accommodate a small audience run by volunteers who want to bring theatre to their village. Despite being small, shows at these venues are produced to a high quality and can go on to do a touring circuit. In the Highlands and Islands there are at least 90 village halls of this size. 


Theatre for young people

Scotland has a world-renowned children’s theatre sector which includes a national organisation called Imaginate. Imaginate is dedicated to promoting and supporting theatre and dance for children and young people, including the annual Edinburgh International Children's Festival. 


Playwrights in Scotland

There is an organisation in Scotland dedicated to supporting playwrights called Playwrights’ Studio Scotland.

This is the nation’s only arts organisation exclusively dedicated to the long-term support, development and promotion of Scotland’s Playwrights. They work actively with Playwrights, connecting them with audiences and organisations, for the enrichment and enjoyment of the people of Scotland and beyond. 

The Traverse Theatre is Scotland’s new writing theatre. They work with the newest and rawest talent - with an emphasis on those based in Scotland - working on it to become the art, artists and performances that can be seen on stages through a variety of creative learning and literary programmes. 


People with disabilities

There are a variety of theatre companies who produce work made by Artists with disabilities. These include:

Take our quiz and find opportunities in the Scotland area here. 

All the above information was given to us by the Federation of Scottish Theatre. They are the membership and development body for Scotland and look to promote all things Scottish Theatre so it's a good idea to check them out too. 


Photo: Alex Brenner

Published: 23 December 2019

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