Glasgow Repertory Theatre

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Glasgow Repertory Theatre was a short-lived Scottish professional theatre founded in Glasgow in 1909 by Arthur Wareing. Its aim, directly inspired by the example of Dublin's Abbey Theatre (which had brought its first tour to Glasgow in 1907 with plays by JM Synge and WB Yeats), was to break Scotland's theatrical dependence on London. Over the previous thirty years, Scottish theatrical activity had been increasingly dominated by touring London companies using transport by rail to bring their productions north, a situation that had effectively contributed to the demise of the country's own stock theatre companies, which had had growing success in the mid-nineteenth century.

Wareing created seasons of international European and English drama. Glasgow Repertory was, for example, the first theatre in Britain to produce a play by Chekhov (The Seagull). It was however less successful in its aim also to produce native Scottish drama, though its company did mount some productions of new Scottish work. One of the ironies of the company's existence was its rejection in 1910 of Graham Moffat's Scots comedy The Causey Saint which, under the title Bunty Pulls the Strings, went on to become the box office smash hit of London's West End in 1911 and continued to win outstanding success on international tour.[citation needed]

Glasgow Repertory folded in the autumn of 1914 with the theatre closures which took effect in Britain in the weeks immediately after the start of World War One; this even though the company, in its final season, had broken even for the first time in financial terms.

Although short-lived, the practical legacy of the Glasgow Repertory was important.[citation needed] The company's residual funds were used in 1921 to establish the Scottish National Players, and memory of its 'national' aspirations continued to inspire a growing movement for Scottish theatrical revival in the inter-war years. When James Bridie eventually established Citizens' Theatre in 1943, his principal direct model was Arthur Wareing's Glasgow Repertory.[citation needed]


  • Donald Campbell, Playing for Scotland, A History of the Scottish Stage 1715-1965 (Edinburgh, 1996)
  • Bill Findlay (editor), A History of Scottish Theatre (Edinburgh, 1998)