Bedlam: A Bright Future

Bedlam: A Bright Future

Edinburgh University Theatre Company’s vision to restore and redevelop the Bedlam Theatre to provide a unique stage into the arts for future generations of students.

Student theatre has thrived at Edinburgh since 1896 making Edinburgh’s student theatre company one of the oldest in the UK. Today, the society has over 250 members each year and produces over 35 shows. The society gives its student members the unique chance to work in a fully functioning theatre.

Although 112 years have passed, the original aims remain the same:

All are welcome. No experience is necessary. Bring what talents you have and they will be nurtured. You will be encouraged. Great things will be achieved.

Home of the Edinburgh University Theatre Company, the Bedlam Theatre has been at the heart of social and artistic life of the University and the City of Edinburgh for the past 33 years.

As well as having a uniquely important place in the history of the University, the Bedlam Theatre is a building of national architectural importance having once started life as the New North Free Church in 1846. Unsurprisingly, it is Grade A listed and resides in a prominent position within the UNESCO Edinburgh World Heritage Site, making a key contribution to Edinburgh’s architectural and cultural heritage.

However, Bedlam is sadly showing its age, and despite an extensive programme of maintenance by the members of the Theatre Company, it has become obvious that a full restoration and reinvention is needed. Many of the spaces no longer meet modern standards of care for a public venue and the practicalities of delivering an ever increasing programme of shows poses its own problems after 30 years of alternations and quick fixes.

The building is in real need of investment if this unique and wonderful space is to provide the same chances for future students and continue to add to the cultural life of the University and the City well into the future.

The future of the Bedlam Theatre is both immensely exciting and very challenging. The fundamental nature of the restoration and redevelopment work will provide an unrepeatable opportunity to return this magnificent and historic building back to its original splendour while making it a theatre fit for its 21st century audience, staff and performers.

Our aim is to remove all of the ‘temporary fixes’ and uncoordinated alterations which have so blemished the Theatre over the decades and restore the original architectural splendour of what was once the City’s New North Free Church. The project will also modernise the Theatre, providing brand new front of house facilities, a new auditorium with state of the art technical installations and new backstage amenities for staff and performers alike.

Work has already begun thanks to an initial investment of £500,000 which has helped restore the external fabric of the building. Over the coming two years the Edinburgh University Theatre Company will be working hard to realise our vision for the Theatre and we need your help.

We hope that you will play your part in the future of student theatre at Edinburgh by helping to support this project. If you would like to find out more, please contact chair@friendsofbedlam.co.uk.

Back in the early 2000s, the then Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Paul Gudgin had some great things to say about Bedlam and it shows why it’s such a great place that can impact in so many different ways. Here’s what he had to say.

A lot of people have passed through the red doors of Bedlam over the years, here are what a few of them had to say about a decade ago.

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