One of Edinburgh’s best venues for new writing, which hosts well-programmed mini-festivals across a pair of stages
As a doyen on Edinburgh’s cultural scene, the Traverse Theatre (known locally as the Trav) recently celebrated 50 years of bringing cutting-edge theatre and award-winning playwrights and performers to its stages.
A venue known for risk-taking and innovation, it’s little surprise that it began life in the ‘60s as a theatre club in a deserted brothel in Edinburgh’s Lawnmarket. Today, it resides on Cambridge Street, in a purpose-built two theatre space, in the city’s busy West End. Located near to the plush Royal Lyceum Theatre, and next door to the recently renovated Usher Hall, between them the trio offer up some of the city’s finest culture.
Embracing its role as Scotland’s new writing theatre, the Trav regularly commissions and develops new plays, or adaptations from contemporary playwrights. It’s continually at capacity during the Fringe, and throughout the rest of the year it flexes its creative muscles with similar force, presenting an array of specialist mini festivals and seasons. Dance fans will enjoy their Autumn Dance Festival, while youngsters will adore their roundly excellent Imaginate strand, and popular Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival.
The basement café bar is a good place to spot well-known actors, or simply enjoy the creative buzz that surrounds the place, with a decent wine list on offer. The food menu is a fairly basic selection of posh sandwiches, salads and baked tatties, but the portions are hearty and occasional specials generally filling. Upstairs, coffees, muffins and the like can be picked up from the small coffee shop at ground level, with a tasty cup of coffee coming courtesy of Edinburgh’s award-winning roasters, Artisan Roast.