The History of Leith

August 18, 2012

Theatre Royal (Now Removed)

Facing Leith Walk, at the junction of Little
King Street with Broughton Street, is the present
Theatre Royal, occupying the site of several places
of amusement its predecessors.
About the year 1792 Mr. Stephen Kemble, in
the course of his peripatetic life, having failed to
obtain the management of the old Theatre Royal
at the end of the North Bridge, procured leave to
erect a new house, which he called a Circus, in
what is described in the titles thereof as a piece
of ground bounded by a hedge. Mrs. Esten, an
admired actress, the lessee of the Theatre Royal,
succeeded in obtaining a decree of the Court of
Session against the production of plays at this
rival establishment; but it nevertheless was permanently
detrimental to the old one, as it continued
to furnish amusements too closely akin to
the theatrical for years ; and in the Scots Magazine
for 1793 we read:—”January 21. The New
Theatre of Edinburgh (formerly the Circus) under
the management of Mr. Stephen Kemble, was
opened with the comedy of the Rivals. This
theatre is most elegantly and commodiously fitted
up, and is considerably larger than the Theatre
Royal.” By the end of that season, Kemble, however,
procured the latter, and retained it till 1800.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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