From Hollywood A-listers to art-house thesps, there’s no end to the talent that has – and continues to – tread the boards in some of the best theatres in Glasgow. With a variety of glorious Victorian spaces as well as new underground hubs, the city easily boasts the best arts venues in Scotland. Better still, there’s always a show going begging, whatever your cultural persuasion. So where to begin?
The rather epic Arches is pretty much a catch-all. Born out of the derelict area below Glasgow’s Central Station in 1991, this cool subterranean spot is home to great theatre, live music, club nights, visual art, and a host of multimedia festivals. The café bar’s pretty good for people watching too.
Just along the road in Trongate, the Tron Theatre is largely play-focused, showcasing some great new writing. Established as a theatre club in a bar in the late 1970s, a 16th century Kirk nearby was later transformed to host the theatre as it stands today. Lots of Scotland’s brightest talent – including Peter Mullan, Craig Ferguson and musician Craig Armstrong – got their big break here, and it has a great, year-round line-up of festivals, including the mighty Mayfesto.
Head south of the river Clyde to the Gorbals and you’ll find the Citizens Theatre, known locally and affectionately as The Citz. Gary Oldman, Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean have all performed in this renowned space, best known for celebrating new Scottish dramas and performing updated versions of some of the classics. Tickets are reasonable and the bar is great for Scottish celeb spotting.
For something more eclectic, there’s Tramway. A tram terminus-turned-art space, Alan Cumming’s brave 2012 turn as Macbeth is just one of the venue’s more recent highlights. It’s also home to the award-winning national dance company, Scottish Ballet.
Back in the city centre, the Victorian era Theatre Royal has played host to many a star, and few are more loved than the Big Yin himself, Billy Connolly, who played to sold out audiences here in his 90s heyday. Today, it enjoys its fair share of touring theatre and dance shows – and showcases the musical talents of Scotland’s national company, Scottish Opera.
Across town, The King’s – which famously welcomed Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn back in the day - takes the lion’s share of touring musicals and mainstream dramas. For a further walk down memory lane (albeit with far less impressive talent today), don’t miss a wander round one of the city’s oldest music halls, the Pavilion, or the lesser-known Britannia Panopticon. They showcased artists such as Charlie Chapin and Stan Laurel respectively, long before they were famous. Finally, for some theatre while you lunch, the West End’s converted church Òran Mór has a regular Play, a Pie and a Pint programme – all for a wallet-friendly £10.
Header Image, Alan Cumming in Macbeth at Tramway © National Theatre of Scotland
Seen anything at these theatres lately or have more Glasgow arts venues to recommend? Share with us in the comments below.
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About the author: AnnaMillarAnna Millar
Anna is a Glasgow born and Edinburgh based freelance writer and editor specialising in arts and travel. When she’s not exploring the Highlands and Islands or reviewing Scotland’s festival scene, she’s likely to be found propping up the bar at one of New York’s finest watering holes or exploring Europe’s untapped corners.