Jul 252016
 

Site of the Theatre Royal2 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EG

The site of the old Edinburgh Theatre Royal was in the other side of North Bridge from where the Balmoral Hotel now stands. The aptly named Shakespeare Square, where it was located, was redeveloped in the late 19th century. In 1812, this theatre was the scene of an unusual incident in the history of geology. Sir George Mackenzie, an enthusiastic supporter of James Hutton’s geological theories, had been inspired by a  trip to Iceland to write a play entitled Helga or the Rival Minstrels, inspired by an Icelandic saga. On the opening night, the theatre was packed by followers of the rival Wernerian school of geology, who caused such a rumpus that the play closed after its first night.

 

The Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, before 1830.

The Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, before 1830.

 

Map of Edinburgh from 1807 showing the Theatre Royal.

Map of Edinburgh from 1807 showing the Theatre Royal.

 

Portrait of Sir George Mackenzie (1780-1848) by Henry Raeburn

Portrait of Sir George Mackenzie (1780-1848) by Henry Raeburn.

 

A geyser in Iceland, by J. Clark, 1811. After a sketch made by Sir George Mackenzie on his trip to Iceland.

A geyser in Iceland, by J. Clark, 1811. After a sketch made by Sir George Mackenzie on his trip to Iceland.

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