THE dour Protestants of the Reformation loathed stage dramas, regarding them as being rife with immortality and reminiscent of the quasi-religious theatrical events of Catholic times.
It was not until 1752 that a makeshift theatre appeared in Glasgow, at the top of the High Street. Patrons, however, sometimes required armed guards to protect them from the anger of the mob.
The booth was demolished in 1754 on the orders of a firebrand minister who saw the performances as a 'limb of Satan'.
The next theatre opened in 1764 in Grahamstown – now the area beneath Central Station but at the time a village outside the city boundaries, and hence protected from the disapproving magistrates.
On the opening night the scenery was deliberately set on fire – and in 1782 the theatre finally burned to the ground.
Sheridan Knowles worked as a teacher of elocution on Trongate, writing plays in his spare time.
In 1820 he sent his work, Virginius, to William Macready, one of the greatest actors on the London stage.
As soon as Macready read the manuscript he took the first coach to Glasgow where, incognito, he watched the play during its run at the Theatre Royal on Queen Street.
Within a month Virginius was wowing the crowds at Covent Garden.
The Theatre Royal on Queen Street, incidentally, was destroyed by fire in 1829.
It had opened in 1805 and was said to be the finest theatre outwith London. It boasted the novelty of gas lighting, but it was said to be a gas fault that led to the blaze in 1829.
Today the name Theatre Royal is of course associated with the famous venue at the top of Hope Street.
The first theatre opened on the site in 1867 and after two fires re-opened in the September of 1895.
The King's Theatre and the Pavilion Theatre both opened in 1904. The building occupied by the Citizens first opened in 1878.
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