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The Balmoral Theatre, Play Park, Dunfermline

Dunfermline Index

The Howitt family ran what were described as Working Mens Theatres, attracting miners and weavers who enjoyed a play. It is likely that Thomas C Howitt who lived in Lorne House, Dunfermline and ran the Balmoral Theatre was a son of Mr Howatt who in 1815 leased a site on the east side of the Green for a theatre, which after all its changes he finally called the Victoria & Albert Theatre. A reviewer noted years later that the miners were his most constant patrons. “Mr Howatt was a capital stage manager as well as a capable actor. One of his pantomimes I witnessed would have done credit to a metropolitan theatre, all the more creditable because of the limited stage accommodation at his command.”

T C Howitt ran the Balmoral Theatre in the Play Park in the 1850s onwards, and in 1867 the stage was considerably raised and six feet added to its depth; new scenery being added and mechanical effects, the house brilliantly lit. He confirmed his strength in Sensation Dramas, adding “Friday Nights will be set aside as Fashionable Nights, when will be performed a Tragedy or Favourite Comedy.” “Front seats (carpeted) 1s, Pit 6d, Gallery 3d.”

From 1872 it operated from a site at the Cattle Market. Howitt produced dramas and pantomime in his theatre and occasionally in the City Theatre (where William Clark saw him as a competitor). He was also the lessee of the Theatres Royal in Paisley and Kirkcaldy. He also acted in McFarland`s Music Hall, Dundee. Howitt had his own stock company and developed a variety company which toured Britain. At the Balmoral his guest actors included the distinguished Shakespearean actor Henry Talbot, and Walter Bentley. In the late 1870s he moved on to the Theatre Royal, Belfast.

The above information on the Balmoral Theatre was written for this site by Graeme Smith in April 2013.

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