Bedlam Theatre is a fully operational 90 seat student-run theatre housed in a Neogothic church in central Edinburgh. It is owned by the University of Edinburgh, home to the Edinburgh University Theatre Company (EUTC) and notable for being the oldest student-run theatre in Britain.
Its building, the former New North Free Church at the foot of George IV Bridge in Edinburgh, was designed by Thomas Hamilton, an architect involved in the creation of Edinburgh New Town in the city. It is on the site of the old city poorhouse, and its current name is taken from the nearby site of the city's first mental health hospital, where the poet Robert Fergusson died.
After the building was abandoned by the church in 1937 it was gifted to University of Edinburgh, who used it for various purposes including a furniture store and a school of nursing until, in 1980, when the building was converted for the use of the Edinburgh University Theatre Company.
The theatre has hosted Edinburgh's longest running improvised comedy troupe, The Improverts, since its inception.
The Edinburgh University Theatre Company
Founded in 1896 as the Edinburgh University Drama Society, the society changed its name to the Edinburgh University Theatre Company (EUTC) when they were given sole residency of the Bedlam Theatre building on 31 January 1980. They are now responsible for the theatre's administration as well as producing the majority of its shows.
A student committee of twelve and sub-committee of three is elected annually to administer the EUTC and to ensure the smooth running of Bedlam theatre from April 1- March 31. It is the role of the committee to remain impartial and act in the best long term interests of the company.
The company stages over 40 shows every year. Some are small-scale, one-off lunchtimes performances, while others are larger budget, week-long productions known as Mainterms.
The vast majority of shows are produced, directed and performed by members of the EUTC whose members are mostly students and former students of the University of Edinburgh. Any member can propose a show for selection by democratic company vote, for which competition is often fierce. Once selected, a show will be fully supported and partially funded by the EUTC.
Each year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the EUTC produces the Improverts and one original dramatic piece of work by the company, both of which are performed in Bedlam Theatre.
Bedlam Fringe (Venue 49)
Bedlam Theatre has opened as Venue 49 in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival since it was gifted to the EUTC in 1980. It is run by the Fringe Venue Manager, who is hired by a panel composed of the Former Fringe Venue Manager, the President, an EUSA accounts representative and the EUSA VP- Services.
Venue 49 is notable for being the only fringe venue run entirely by students, with the majority of managers hired by the Fringe Venue Manager being term-time members of the EUTC. As a venue it focuses on providing opportunities for young theatre makers and artists, hosting a variety of companies ranging from Fringe veterans to newcomers.
Many award winning fringe shows have been hosted by Bedlam Theatre.
- In 1977, whilst the building was still under control of the University Chaplaincy, a musical adaptation of Master and Margarita written by Richard Crane and directed by his wife Faynia Williams was presented at the venue by the University of Bradford Drama Group. It went on to win a Fringe First award, garnering excellent reviews and became an iconic tale of success at the fringe.
- In 2008, Eight, a piece of original writing by EUTC member Ella Hickson, produced by the EUTC, won a Scotsman Fringe First Award, the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award and an NSDF Emerging Artists Award going on to play London West-End, New York and Florida Theatres to critical acclaim.
Every fringe the Improverts perform nightly at 00:30 and have sold out every year since 2006
Established in 2000, the Bedlam Youth Project (BYP) aims to introduce children to the various disciplines of theatre. It currently liaises with schools and the Edinburgh University student charity Children's Holiday Venture. In 2009 they visited Brussels to help run 'Featlets', a youth theatre subsidiary of the Festival of European Anglophone Theatre Societies (FEATS).
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- "Bedlam Theatre". EdinburghGuide.com. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
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- "Overview of Bedlam Theatre". Scottish-places.info. 1980-01-31. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
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- "Committee - EUTC Wiki". Wiki.eutc.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "The Improverts - Edinburgh Fringe 2010 - British Comedy Guide". Comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "The Improverts". The Improverts. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "About The Theatre - Bedlam Theatre, Venue 49". Bedlamfringe.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "Lost Musicals: The Message Board!: Re: Satan's Ball". Members2.boardhost.com. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
- "Eight by Ella Hickson". Eight-theatre.co.uk. 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
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