Adam Smith Theatre: curtain rises on a new era for Kirkcaldy theatre
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The tired civic theatre has gone, replaced by a modern creative venue where every space has been put to new, better use. While other theatres went dark during the pandemic - some sadly never to return - Kirkcaldy’s 124-year old venue underwent a renaissance; one more than worth the wait.
The lights go on and the curtain rises this weekend for two sold out gala shows featuring the local groups who consider the Adam Smith to be their home, and from next Tuesday (September 26) every door will be open to the public.
And there is much to take in. A foyer that was once little more than a big empty space now has the box office at its very heart, and the cafe has been completed redesigned as a space to meet and eat as well as watch amateur and professional shows such as stand=up comedy or acoustic music nights. The days of queues snaking out of the bar are gone.Across the foyer sits a stunning design suite open to everyone to use that is fitted to the highest spec - a place that will become home to many creatives.
The downstairs room has a smart new look and the room beyond it - rarely seen or used by the publ;9ic - has been refitted. Mirror open it up to use by dance classes, while sound proofing means it can host performances while the auditorium is also in use.
That flexibility is mirrored throughout the building. Upstairs, the foyer has break out zones, while the Beveridge Suite has been transformed with soft furnishings, a fully equipped bar, and scope for a stage to host performances.
And behind it the former offices - many will recall Sheila Thomson working out of their in her time as manager - are now places to meet and use. Go backstage and the dressing-rooms are all new, while on stage the technical spec has been more than just upgraded.
And, out of sight, lie the ducts, cables and beams which formed the fabric of the transformation. Without that work, the theatre wouldn’t have lasted another five years at best.
It is still the Adam Smith Theatre - the name didn’t change after all the consultations - as we knew it, but with a new sense of purpose and a much wider remit.
And, ultimately, it is about getting people back in the building and using every single new space it offers. Around 1250 people were given tours over the last week, and their feedback was hugely positive.
Michelle Sweeney, director of creative development, said: “There is a wow factor. It is very exciting for us to have had such a positive response from the community, from business and creatives and how they could see themselves using the building.
“The scope here is fantastic. People and businesses are saying this is a great corporate entertainment venue for them, which we didn’t have before.”But first, a gala opening on Saturday with two sold out shows, featuring a number of local groups and hosted by Grant Stott
“We are really exciting preparing for the opening show. It will bring life back to the venue once more. It is a show for the community. We knew there would be big demand and one show wouldn’t be enough so adding a matinee was key but making sure it had the same red carpet feel as the evening.”
The finishing touches are still being put to the building, many of them cementing its rinks to the economist and philanthropist whose name sits above the door, but also others who are integral to Kirkcaldy’s story.
Marcus Kenyon, chief operating officer, said: “The original concept of the Adam Smith Theatre was more than a theatre. The cafe, for example, used to be a library. It was a cultural heart then and the vision we have is for the community to have that again.
“Smith is so relevant to people’s lives today. It is good to link it all back to him, and the link with Kirkcaldy Galleries just across thew road is important. There is real connectivity there - hanging rails with artwork won’t just be about us but about the community. Our walls are your walls.
“Michael Beveridge is another key figure in the theatre’s history. Without his donation it would never have been built. His philanthropy needs to be recognised - and these changes are all about recognising what Kirkcaldy was and how groundbreaking this building would have been at that time, and how it will be again. Whatever your purpose or need, it can be met here.”
Behind the scenes work goes on to get the stage ready for its first live show in three years - new LED lights and sound systems are in place - and there is a real sense of excitement as the countdown to the doors opening.
“The staff have been lining up to be part of the opening night,” said Michelle, “and it is important they are here. Everyone has worked hard to make a difference in terms of the atmosphere. We want to reflect that in terms of how people are welcomed from the moment they step through the front door.”And it is the box office that people will see first as they step inside for the first time since 2020.
“The welcome is huge - you cannot miss the box office now! It was once tucked away in the corner, now it is front and centre and you can see straight away that everything around it has changed. It is a big change to the space - there is contact the minute you come in,” said Michelle.
And once the curtain falls on Saturday, the venue goes straight into rehearsals for panto - a show synonymous with the Adam Smith for generations of locals. Lights up, curtain up - it’s show time.