Ten Reasons to Love Glasgow Theatre

A trip to Glasgow is the perfect winter treat. If you’ve never been to this city of wonders and northern lights, put it right at the top of your list – especially if you have a creative soul and are utterly crazy about theatre.

No.1 SHARMANKA

Macabre, enchanting, magical: visiting Sharmanka is like awaking to find yourself in a magical toy shop –  and is truly one of Glasgow’s hidden theatrical delights. Bells ring, chains clank and motors whirr as one by one kinetic sculptures spring into motion, often turned by the hand-carved figures adorning them. Monkeys peer out from behind cogs, rats turn crank-shafts and more than once I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.

Detail from "The Boat" ©RobinMitchell
Detail from “The Boat” ©RobinMitchell

The entire exhibition is built from pieces of old scrap with figures carved from wood by international genius Eduard Bersudsky. The very first sculpture was built in Bursudsky’s tiny St Petersburg apartment and still forms a part of the collection which has made Glasgow it’s home since 1995. Since then Bersudsky has added more fantastical sculptures and elements of the exhibitions and special commissions have been seen as far afield as Israel and China.

The Wooden Kinemats © RobinMitchell
The Wooden Kinemats © RobinMitchell

Sharmanka (in Russian, a barrel-organ) tells, through it’s incredible “Kinemats”, the humorous and tragic stories of the human spirit’s struggle against the cycle of life and death and is heavily influenced by Bursusdky’s own early life in Soviet Russia. With names like Master and Margarita, The Tower of Babel and the Brainwashing Machine, it’s little surprise that Sharmanka has been described as Heath Robinson meets Hieronymus Bosch, although Bagpuss meets Beowulf would be equally accurate.

Great care has been taken to marry magical sounds and lighting effects to each machine and the result is a rich, highly theatrical combination of storytelling and legends. You’ll leave smiling from ear to ear.

Self Portrait with Monkey (c) Robin Mitchell
Self Portrait with Monkey (c) Robin Mitchell

For ticket booking & enquiries please email: info@sharmanka.com
Tel: +44 (0)141 5527080
Booking strongly advised. Shows often sell out.

2. CITIZENS THEATRE
Just across the Clyde in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, you’ll find The Citizens Theatre  – an iconic example of Scottish Victorian Theatre. Ignore the uninspiring exterior – inside you will find a Grade B listing building with beautiful the most complete working Victorian theatre machinery in the UK.  First open in 1878, it is now one of Scotland’s flagship producing theatres under the Artistic Direction of Dominic Hill and keeps community at its heart.

Citizens Theatre Glasgow - Auditorium (c) Citizens Theatre
Citizens Theatre Glasgow – Auditorium (c) Citizens Theatre

3. THE BRITANNIA PANOPTICON MUSIC HALL
Dating from the 1850s, the Britannia Panopticon is possibly the UK’s oldest surviving music hall. There’s so much to enjoy here, from haunted sleepovers to swing dance classes and on the second and last Friday of every month, a showcase of the new oddities of the Glaswegian cabaret scene.

4. THE KING’S THEATRE

The King’s opened in 1904, designed by the great theatre architect Frank Matcham, and frequently plays host to stand-up, professional tours and local amateur productions. This year’s panto is Cinderella and 2017 highlights include Woman In Black and Thoroughly Modern Millie starring Michelle Collins and Strictly’s Joanne Clifton.

The stunning King's Theatre in the heart of Glasgow
The stunning King’s Theatre in the heart of Glasgow

5.THE THEATRE ROYAL

Whether it’s dance, drama or farce, you’ll find every kind of entertainment here. The first theatre opened in 1867 and after two fires reopened in September 1895.  The Theatre Royal is also home to Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet.

6. THE CLYDE AUDITORIUM

The SECC, known affectionately as The Armadillo, is one of Glasgow’s most iconic buildings and bears more than a passing similarity to the Sydney Opera House. Designed by architects Foster and Partners, the Clyde Auditorium plays host to major events like Rod Stewart and the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour.

The The Armadillo
The SECC, also known as The Armadillo

7. THE TRON THEATRE

The Tron is one of Scotland’s leading producing and presenting theatres with performance, rehearsal and workshop spaces and a great bar/kitchen – the perfect place to sit and write your next hit play – set in the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City.

Step inside The Tron's slick, hi tech, modern auditorium
Step inside The Tron’s slick, hi tech, modern auditorium

8. WEBSTER’S THEATRE

Formerly the Lansdowne Parish Church, this A-listed Gothic Revival Church was built in 1863 and featured stained glass windows by Alf Webster – Webster’s Theatre is named in his honour. It now boasts a fully equipped 184 seat theatre plus a bar and bistro.

9. THE PAVILION THEATRE

The Pavilion Theatre was designed by Bertie Crewe in 1904. Today, virtually unchanged in it’s structure and decorative style, you can marvel at The Pavilion’s grand theatrical styles – art deco stained glass, marble mosaics and Louis XV style furnishings.

10. THE SCOTTISH MASK AND PUPPET CENTRE

The Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre‘s philosophy is one of radical humanism: Channeling life through the use of masks, puppets, magic and performing objects is a powerful antidote to dehumanisation. If that sounds heavy, fear not – shows for all ages, birthday parties and puppet workshops make this a place for anyone who loves puppetry and has a child’s imagination.

The Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre
The Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre

Our favourite Bloggers from Glasgow

We’ve just scratched the surface. There’s so much more to Glasgow’s vibrant theatre scene – check out:
-the awesome Glasgow Theatre Blogcrammed full of insider tips & advice for anyone who just can’t get enough comedy, tragedy and drama in their lives, and
moon child, a blog of creative writing and journalism with short stories, reviews, interviews, features & guest blogs.