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Get to Know: The Byre Theatre

Founded almost 90 years ago in a disused cow byre, The Byre Theatre has grown from its humble beginnings to become one of the town’s most loved institutions.

With the nights drawing in and Christmas already in full swing at the theatre, we chatted to Mary Mackenzie, Box Office Manager, to find out a bit more about The Byre’s history and what visitors can expect from this year’s pantomime. 

 

What’s The Byre Theatre’s story?

The Byre Theatre was founded back in 1933 by Charles Marford, an actor, and Alexander B. Paterson, a local journalist and playwright. Our first home was a disused cow byre that was cleaned out and used for regular shows – and we’ve grown from there ever since!

The original Byre was demolished and rebuilt as an actual theatre in 1970 and then remodelled in 2001. The theatre sadly went into administration in 2013 but thankfully in the summer of 2014, it was announced that we would be re-opening under the management of the University of St Andrews. Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength, and continue as an exciting theatrical venue that hosts a whole collection of different events and shows.

 

What makes it a unique venue?

The Byre is unique because it’s at the heart of the St Andrews community. As well as some top quality theatre, we also host talks, film screenings, and exhibitions - all designed to give the local community a space to meet, chat, and socialise. We’re a venue that’s grown out of our community, so naturally they hold a crucial position in our ethos.

We’re also really excited to be a venue that is a part of the University of St Andrews, giving us a unique connection to the students and young people that live in and around St Andrews.

 

What is something many people don’t know about the company?

We have a group offer for most of our events – if you bring a group of 12, one of those tickets will be free. You can get in touch with our box-office on 01334 475 000 for more details about which events this applies to and how to book!

 

What can people expect when visiting you?

A friendly and welcoming atmosphere is the first thing you can expect! Whether you’re coming to see a show, take a look at our exhibitions, or even for a drink and a bite to eat at our café-bar, we’re always excited to have you here, and you can expect to be welcomed with open arms. As well as that, we pride ourselves on top quality and exciting programming, presenting shows that are full of fun, and sometimes challenging.

 

What’s the team like at the theatre?

The team at The Byre is passionate - that’s the simplest way to describe us. We’re passionate about the shows and events that we put on, and, first and foremost, we’re passionate about the community that we work for and everyone who comes through our doors, both from near and far.

 

What are the upcoming shows and events at The Byre Theatre?

There are lots of great shows and events coming up at The Byre this season. Most of all though, we’re excited about our pantomime, Sleeping Beauty. The performance is a re-telling of the classic fairy tale that transports us to the mythical kingdom of Fantasia, a land filled with wonder, delight, and a distinctly Scottish flavour. Our pantos are always fun, magical, and exciting.

Head over to byretheatre.com to get a complete list of all the amazing things we’ve got coming up.

 

What is it like to work in St Andrews?

St Andrews is a great place to work because of the sense of community. Everyone has a friendly word to say, and everyone that we meet is so genuinely kind and caring and polite. Working in St Andrews is a privilege and the shopping is amazing!

 

What is your favourite thing about St Andrews?

Apart from the sense of community, I’d say the fact that it is just such a creative place. It’s surprising because it’s such a small town, but the level of creativity is brilliant. The handful of galleries around put out some truly beautiful work, and the students from the University push the town to be even more creative in so many ways. It’s fantastic to work in a theatre that is a part of that kind of atmosphere. 

 

When is the best time to visit St Andrews?

Easy – Christmas time. Everywhere in town just becomes even more cosy and welcoming than usual. People are friendly and even though the nights are close and dark, there’s a sense of freedom and community that pervades the town. The Christmas lights are modest but they light up the streets with a twinkle unlike everywhere else.

If there’s one thing you absolutely need to see here, it’s the smile of St Andreans during Christmas times. Plus, you get the chance to see the world famous Byre pantomime.

 

What is the best view in St Andrews?

The auditorium in The Byre, waiting for the curtain to go up!

 

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