The Edinburgh theatre scene beyond the Fringe

Beyond the Fringe

We explore why Edinburgh's theatre scene is still alive and kicking, way beyond August

If you're arriving in Edinburgh in September, you're likely to be greeted by a litany of old Fringe flyers, with the occasional Festival poster still tacked up on a wall. But don't for a second think this means that Edinburgh's stages are winding down the action. The city is a year-round hub of theatrical goodness, with new, experimental writing, contemporary classics, modern dance, ballet, musicals and more all on the docket year round.

If you're interested in new writing, the Traverse is the place to start. Formed in 1963 by a group of passionate theatre enthusiasts, it was originally founded to extend the spirit of the Edinburgh festivals throughout the year. One of the most popular fixtures in the programme is the Play, Pie and a Pint series, in which the theatre partners with Òran Mór to bring six new plays to light up your lunchtime. Tickets are just £13.50 and include a pie and a drink. Outside of this, there's a wide range of new plays being performed on a regular basis. The venue actively encourages new writing, with open script submissions and rehearsed readings of new works, while the venue's wider engagement programme aims to bring as many people as possible within the walls of the theatre, offering projects, workshops and events to schools, colleges, universities, new audiences, artists and professionals.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre is one of Scotland's leading producing theatres. Under artistic director David Greig, it programmes a strong range of classical, contemporary and community work. The company also runs a varied engagement and outreach programme through their creative learning team, while the Lyceum Youth Theatre also engages young people in the fabric of the city's theatre community.

The Edinburgh Festival Theatre and King's Theatre are where you're likely to see large-scale touring productions. The Festival Theatre was designed as Scotland's premier dance and opera house in 1994, and it's often the place to see Scottish Ballet, Northern Ballet and more when they pirouette into town. Big productions, such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime are also housed in this much-loved venue. The King's Theatre was opened as a variety theatre in 1906 and is widely known as one of Scotland's historic and important theatres. Here, you'll find large-scale productions, such as Shakespeare in Love and Fame.

And if musicals are your thing, you'll probably be living at the Edinburgh Playhouse. This former cinema is the UK's largest working non-sporting theatre in terms of audience capacity, and is where all the big song-filled classics stop when they're in town (Wicked, Cabaret, you name it).

Meanwhile, Bedlam Theatre is where you'll see some strong student performances. Run by Edinburgh University Theatre Company, it's a fully operational, 90-seat theatre housed in a former church at the junction of Forrest Road and Bristo Place. Go for the rising theatrical talent, stay for the treats in the cafe.

Basically, what we're saying is that Edinburgh is a Festival city year-round (minus the flyers). Get ready to become an expert.

A Traverse Theatre
10 Cambridge Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2ED
The Traverse has been a key player in British theatre for 50 years as Scotland's long-standing home of new writing, although it's increasingly taking an interest in emerging writers. It's here that audiences got their first taste of playwrights such as…
B Royal Lyceum Theatre
Grindlay Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9AX
At the heart of Lothian Road's cultural quarter, the Royal Lyceum is an elegant 19th-century building next door to the Usher Hall. It is not only Edinburgh's principle repertory theatre, but the best-attended producing theatre in Scotland. Over the…
C King's Theatre
2 Leven Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ
Generations of Edinburgh residents have fond memories of being taken to the lavish annual pantomime that still packs the audiences in, just as it did in the celebrated days of Stanley Baxter, Rikki Fulton and Jimmy Logan. Today, the 1350-seat venue in…
D Bedlam Theatre
11b Bristo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 1EZ
Home to the Edinburgh University Theatre Company, Bedlam is the oldest student-run theatre in Britain. We stage a different show every week and offer free workshops on a range of subjects. Please visit our website for the full programme and details on…
E Festival Theatre Edinburgh
13–29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9FT
With its impressive Colin Ross-designed three-story glass façade, the former Empire Palace Theatre is at once welcoming and grand. It boasts one of the largest stages in the UK; so big that it has occasionally been converted into a studio theatre with…
F The Edinburgh Playhouse
18–22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA
Built as a "super cinema" in 1929, the category A-listed building has had a turbulent history, changing hands many times before claiming its place as one of the UK's key venues for post-West End tours in the late-1980s. With a capacity of over 3000 on…