Did you know that we are a charity? Our purpose is to contribute to a thriving cultural life in Edinburgh, to give you the very best theatrical experience and to encourage a broad audience of all ages to participate in the arts. As custodians of two beautiful theatres we are committed to preserving and developing these historic venues for the city. We welcome over 430,000 a year to our theatres, over 21,000 participate in our creative learning activities and we contribute over £6m to the Scottish economy each year.
Your Festival Theatre
The Festival Theatre is Scotland’s premier dance and opera house as well as being a stunning venue for musicals, comedy, large-scale event theatre, festivals and rock and pop gigs. Throughout 2014 the Festival Theatre will be celebrating 20 glorious years of bringing the world's best theatre companies to Edinburgh.
The theatre is one of the major Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival venues and doubles as a cinema for the glittering gala premiers of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The theatre is also Edinburgh's home for two of Scotland's national companies - Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera.
The Studio behind the Festival Theatre on Potterrow was opened in Summer 2013 and now plays host to a full programme of smaller-scale productions, festivals, rehearsals and learning and participation activities.
The King’s Theatre is home to the legendary King's Panto and plays host throughout the year to West-End drama, musicals, amateur companies (including the annual Gang Show) and children's shows. Having undergone the first phase of a much needed restoration in 2012, the 'Old Lady of Leven Street' is heading back to her glory days.
In addition to bringing fantastic theatre to Edinburgh we also engage over 21,000 a year in our learning and participation activities – giving everyone the opportunity to explore and take part in performing arts.
OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO ACCESS
We aim to make our theatres as welcoming to everyone as we possibly can.
"The Festival theatre is THE best theatre in Edinburgh to go to if you are disabled!!! Absolutely amazing seats and brilliant care and attention from the staff. Totally accessible in every aspect. Can't fault them. I love going there" Carol Simpson, audience member
Having hosted the first ever relaxed theatre performancein Scotland in 2012, specially adapted to the needs of children with complex additional needs, we now have an ongoing programme of Relaxed Performances across all three of our venues. In January 2015, we staged the first ever relaxed King's Panto welcoming children from 11 special schools in Edinburgh. The children could feel free to make noise, move around, and come in and out of the auditorium. Over 50 wheelchairs were accommodated, the sensory intensity of the show was reduced to better suit the children, extra staff were on hand to help the teachers and carers and a number of ramps and personal care facilities were provided.
We are planing another Relaxed Panto for 2016 as well as relaxed performances at the Festival Theatre and in our Studio
“Trying to get children like ours to sit quietly through a performance is quite difficult so having it the way it is, tailored for them, is just great. It was a relaxed performance in many ways. At this performance we didn’t have this worry and consequently the children and staff had a very enjoyable experience.”
– Teacher, Redhall School
“This is the first occasion that Braidburn has been able to attend an outside event as a whole school. A visit to a theatre is a first for many of our pupils and we thank you for providing this opportunity, the experience of which will last a lifetime.”
- Teacher, Braidburn School
If you'd like to support our programme of relaxed performances, you can donate through our box office on 0131 529 6000 or online here.
The Festival and King’s Theatres provide more performances for sensory impaired audiences than any other theatre in Scotland. Throughout the year we have performances which are captioned, British Sign Language interpreted and audio-described and also provide touch tours where visually impaired patrons can touch the sets on stage, feel the costumes that will be worn and find out how props will be used in the performance. This year we will also be introducing BSL-interpreted and audio-described backstage tours. We produce braille, audio, large-print and signed versions of our brochure and signed versions are available on each show page of our website.
If you know someone who could benefit from this service please contact our box office for more details.
Pilrig Park School Annual Performance
Every year, we host a very special performance from a very special school. Pilrig Park School provides education for secondary aged pupils with additional support needs. Each year we provide our stage, technical and box office support for them to stage their very own production. The school has used expressive arts to tremendous effect as a transforming force for their young people, many of whom have severe physical and learning disabilities and may be unable to read or write. The pupils devise the story, design and create the sets, costumes and programmes, and for those who feel uncomfortable performing, the theatre gives them box office and ushering duties, providing them with a unique opportunity to gain work place life-skills and training opportunities. We are delighted to welcome these outstanding young people back to our stage each year, giving young people who aren’t in mainstream education the chance to be centre stage.
"They get a standing ovation – and it's absolutely deserved. It's on those nights that you remember what the spirit of the theatre is all about."
We work closely with community groups, the City of Edinburgh Council, youth groups and other charities to help people of all backgrounds take part in performing arts, and to help them feel at home in the theatre.
For the last few years, we have run a scheme with the City of Edinburgh Council to give looked after children and their carers tickets to see a Christmas show. It’s a wonderful chance for the children to get a real Christmas treat and spend some quality time with their carer.
We work with charities to help give confidence to groups who would usually feel intimidated by visiting the theatre, by leading them on specially tailored tours of the theatre before inviting them to experience a show. Our Theatre Links project aims to encourage social clubs and community groups from areas where we have low attendance, to feel able to visit the theatre and enjoy a show. With talks about what to expect at the theatre, help in planning their visit and special ticket offers we hope to broaden access to theatre.
WORKING WITH SCHOOLS & COLLEGES
Working with over 300 children from 4 schools who have never previously visited the theatre, we give them the chance to see professional shows, provide workshops in their schools to develop skills in poetry, creative writing, puppetry or dance. They are supported to produce a piece of work in response to the show they have seen which is exhibited in their local arts centre. Forthview Primary School have even managed to get a book of the children’s poems published.
“Wow! That was out of this world!…Thank you for giving us this epic experience.” Junior, P7B, Pirniehall Primary School, participant in last year’s Start project
Now in its third year, Dancequest gives P6 to S1 pupils who are new to dance the chance to visit the Festival Theatre to see two amazing dance shows, they’ll learn dance skills in specially designed workshops in their school and then create their own dance piece in their classes. They perform this piece on the Festival Theatre stage to a packed audience of their friends and family who receive free tickets.
“Having the whole experience of seeing professional dancers, meeting professional dancers, working with different instruments… they've just loved every minute of it. It’s been really very beneficial, very. It’s given them a touch of some of the life they might not have access to if people didn't offer them it. They've loved that.”
Teacher, Dancequest participant
“I feel pretty excited, but even if they laugh I'll still feel proud of myself – I did something and I achieved something and I'll feel pretty proud of myself.”
Student Dancequest participant
We provide a popular programme of free Continuing Professional Development sessions for teachers to train them in the skills and confidence they need to deliver the new curriculum for excellence in their schools. From early years activities right up to the delivery of Highers, we offer workshops from professional artists and performers in a range of genres from hip hop dance to puppetry.
We run Careers Days in partnership with the Lyceum and Traverse Theatres for S4-S6 students to give a taste of the various careers in the arts. We have extended the reach of these careers days by screening them over the schools intranet to reach schools in the Highlands and Islands. This year we will be introducing a special Careers Day for teachers to equip them with the knowledge of careers in the creative industries required to guide and support their students interested in the arts.
SUPPORTING EMERGING TALENT
We are working closely with education providers to develop training and skills for the next generation of performers by contributing to the delivery of qualifications including BA in Dance at Edinburgh College, the new Highers in Drama and Dance, National 5 in drama, Intermediate 2 qualification in Creative Industries and Dancebase’s Dance Leadership Qualification. We provide facilities, access to our visiting companies and our own expertise on staff, opportunities for performance and teaching, and support for teachers to help them .
Nurturing New Talent
We are delighted to host Scottish Ballet Youth Collective as our resident youth dance company who are based in our Studio and we have recently established a Young Men’s Dance Company, Footworks. Addressing a real gender imbalance in youth dance, Footworks encourages boys and young men to develop their dance and choreography skills, as well as building confidence and team-working. Learning from dance professionals in a range of genres, the young men are given access to mentoring, inspiring performances and performers and are challenged to create and perform their own work. This addresses a real gender imbalance amongst young people in dance and we would therefore like to establish a permanent young men’s dance company at the theatre.
Student Ambassadors& Student Reviewers
Each year we recruit Student Ambassadors to increase participation in the arts amongst their peers and Higher English students keen to work in arts journalism to be Student Reviewers for our shows.
Our new Learning and Participation programme is for everyone- not just children! Over 21,000 people of all ages took part in our learning activities last year. Whether it's a pre or post show talk, a backstage tour or an over-50s dance class, we offer a variety of interesting and fun events. We run a regular five-week adult learning course- Discover the Festival Theatre. And for young people we offer workshops in schools, guided tours and page to stage events that support their learning curriculum. Visit our Learning and Participation pages for more information.