Create. Challenge. Entertain.
Edinburgh Theatre Arts (ETA) is an amateur theatre company which has been in existence since the late 1940s. The company owed a lot, in the early years, to Charles Johnston who set the standard as a no-nonsense, talented director. Charlie also encouraged the company to join the National Drama Federation Association (NDFA) and to compete south of the border in at least one NDFA full length play festival each year. Our far flung festival sorties have included a range of great old theatres including The Gaiety, Isle of Man; New Theatre, Cardiff; The Harrogate Theatre and the Buxton Opera House.
After an itinerant existence for some years the company settled for nearly 20 years in the Coach House Theatre in Ferry Road. In a space that accommodated 40 people, ETA achieved great acclaim for some classic productions. ETA has been a regular on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for nearly 40 years starting with a 1972 Fringe debut production of The Birthday Party. During the Coach House years other productions included:
The Father, Uncle Vanya, Our Town, A Delicate Balance, Glass Menagerie and a number of productions which recognised their association with one of America’s greatest playwrights, Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman, A View from the Bridge, The Crucible, All my Sons and The Price.
In the 1990’s the company moved to St Phillips Hall near Powderhall where highlights included Under Milk Wood, and Liz Lochhead’s Dracula, the latter receiving the playwright’s seal of approval. During this time, Spring shows were staged at Churchill Theatre with a wide range of productions: The Diary of Ann Frank, Plaza Suite, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Odd Couple, The Front Page, Night Must Fall, The Crucible, Sailor Beware and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.
Directorial duties were shared between Norman M.P. Morton, Mike Duffy and John McLinden. Mike and John are still directing for the company today, along with Iain Kerr, David McCallum and Suzie Marshall.
The company has appeared at most major drama festivals south of the Border, winning a host of acting and directing awards along the way. The group was also crowned National Drama Festival Association full-length British winners four times with, The Father, The Birthday Party, A View from the Bridge and The Crucible.
ETA moved to St Ninian’s in the 1990’s, but to a hall which has since been replaced by housing. Among the logistical problems in those days was the lack of dressing rooms, the cast changing in a tent! ETA has been in the new replacement hall in St Ninian’s since 2002 and the company continues to flourish. With innovative and award-winning productions of David Copperfield, Waiting for Godot, The Ride Down Mount Morgan, The Day They Shot John Lennon, Steel Magnolias, I Have Been Here Before, The Servant of Two Masters and Michael Palin’s The Weekend.
In 2008 and 2009, ETA was proud to be recognised locally in winning the Evening News Fringe drama award with productions of Blue Remembered Hills and A Tale of Two Cities.
In 2012, ETA was selected as the sole Scottish representative to perform at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Open Stages National Showcase. Our production of MacBeth in Scots being performed at the RSC Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
In addition to our theatrical seasons, ETA produces Burns suppers - the company having performed in Edinburgh Castle, The National Portrait Gallery and The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, as well as hosting our own annual Supper - Christmas Shows and Murder Mystery evenings. In recent years, ETA's Suzie Marshall has also introduced a series of drama workshops for youngsters in St Ninian's hall.
The company continues to aim to perform innovative, challenging and entertaining theatre and hopes to carry on doing so for many years to come.