FOR more than 70 years, the Citizens Theatre has entertained and enthralled audiences by bringing to life a multitude of stories on stage.

There have been tales of love and hate, drama and comedy, politics and power, for all ages and all backgrounds.

But there are just as many stories from behind the scenes of the iconic building waiting to be told.

Here at Thanks for the Memories, we want to hear them.

Did you tread the boards there? Work behind the scenes or front of house? Are you an avid audience member? Whatever your connection to the theatre, affectionately known throughout Glasgow and beyond as the Citz, we’d love to hear your story.

Recently, the theatre announced a multi-million pound redevelopment which will modernise the building and reveal some of its hidden heritage, including the Victorian auditorium at the heart of the site, its rare collection of original 19th century stage machinery and a unique example of a working paint frame, which allows the artist to stand still and paint the scenery moving up and down through a slot in the floor.

There has been a theatre on the site since 1878, when it opened its doors as His Majesty’s Theatre and Opera House.

The majority of the substage machinery appears to date from this time, including corner traps and stage bridges.

It was one of four theatres in the area at that time – the others were what is now the Carling Academy, the Coliseum and the Palace (formerly adjacent to the Citz) – but it closed within a year due to bankruptcy.

It reopened in 1880 as the Royal Princess’s Theatre, designed by Campbell Douglas, a friend of Alexander Greek Thompson. The building shared an exterior with the Palace which featured columns taken from the Union Bank in Ingram St and several large statues which were the work of Glasgow sculptor John Mossman.

The building was operated by Richard Waldon as director manager until he died in 1922. The theatre was then inherited by Harry McKelvie, who had worked his way up from programme seller to manager. He was a notorious eccentric, who would arrive in a horse and carriage and was often seen throwing flowers for the locals.

The Citizens Theatre Company was formed in 1943 and was led by James Bridie, at that time Scotland’s best known playwright and later founder of the RSAMD.

The company took residence in the Gorbals in 1945 and the building was renamed The Citizens Theatre.

It opened on September 11, 1945 with JB Priestley’s Johnson Over Jordan.

In 1946 the theatre heating and ventilation system was modernised and a new set of decorative grilles were installed into the auditorium. The Glasgow Evening Times reported that ‘next winter, patrons of the Citizens Theatre will be able to leave their overcoats in the cloakroom and sit in a warm and draught-free auditorium’.

The adjacent Palace Theatre was knocked down in 1977 by order of the City Council, with very little notice given. Citizens Theatre staff went in overnight and saved some of the features of the building including the statues of the four muses, William Shakespeare and Robert Burns from the exterior as well as the elephants from the interior.

In addition the original box office, inlaid with jade, was saved and is on display in the People’s Palace.

In June 2018, Citizens Theatre Company will move out of the Category B listed building, which it leases from Glasgow City Council, for over two years.

Thanks to a partnership with Glasgow Life the Company will continue to produce its ground-breaking work at Tramway and provide its Citizens Learning activities at Scotland Street School Museum.

The Company will move back into its iconic Gorbals home in autumn 2020.

Share your memories and photos of the Citz - email or call 0141 302 6555.