The Royal Lyceum Theatre is a 658-seat theatre in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, named after the Theatre Royal Lyceum and English Opera House, the residence at the time of legendary Shakespearean actor Henry Irving. It was built in 1883 by architect C. J. Phipps at a cost of £17,000 on behalf of J. B. Howard and F. W. P. Wyndham,[1] two local theatrical managers and performers who went on to establish the renowned Howard & Wyndham company in 1895.[2] With only four minor refurbishments, in 1929, 1977, 1991, and 1996, the Royal Lyceum remains one of the most original and unaltered of the architect's works.[3]

In 1965, the building was purchased by the Edinburgh Corporation to house the newly formed Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, who are now the permanent residents, leasing it from the local council.[4]

The Royal Lyceum has been one of the principal venues for the Edinburgh International Festival since the festival's inception in 1947, its owners renting out the building for three weeks every August for visiting companies, and often for a further week to Fringe companies.[4]

The Royal Lyceum has primarily been known for its provision of drama. However it has also presented some significant opera, from the first tours of Carl Rosa in the latter part of the 19th century through to the early decades of Scottish Opera in the 1960s and 1970s. Some important operas received their first Scottish performance at the Lyceum, including Madam Butterfly, Manon and Die Meistersinger.[5]

The theatre was the first in Britain to be fitted with an iron safety curtain, and the first in Scotland to use electricity for house lighting.[6]

David Greig took over from Mark Thomson as Artistic Director in 2016.[7]


Poster for a performance of William Gillette's Held by the enemy at the theatre in 1887

The theatre is believed to be haunted and there have been sightings of a blue lady who is believed to be Ellen Terry, the actress who performed at the Lyceum’s first show. In addition a shadowy figure has been reportedly seen high above the stage in the lighting rig.[8] Many sightings have been reported to have been accompanied by a ringing noise.

See also


  1. ^ Hartnoll, Phyllis; Found, Peter (1996), The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-211576-8 
  2. ^ Campbell, Donald (1983), A brighter sunshine: A hundred years of the Edinburgh Royal Lyceum Theatre, Polygon, ISBN 978-0-904919-70-7 
  3. ^ "Building history", Royal Lyceum website
  4. ^ a b "Company history", Royal Lyceum website
  5. ^ Fraser, Iain and Fraser, Stephen (2013) 'Royal Lyceum Theatre' OperaScotland
  6. ^ Bruce., Peter, (1999). Scotlandʼs splendid theatres : architecture and social history from the Reformation to the present day. Edinburgh: Polygon. pp. 32–33. ISBN 0748662618. OCLC 44184624. 
  7. ^ "David Greig named Lyceum Theatre's artistic director". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 9 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Why you've more than a ghost of a chance of seeing a spook". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 8 November 2004. 

External links

  • [1] Academic, refereed papers on the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company 1965 to 2000, by Paul Iles