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book jacket

The Buxton Stage

Colin Wells, illustrated by Rose Shawe-Taylor

Written in 1998, as Buxton Opera House approached its 100th birthday, The Buxton Stage traces the history of theatre in the Peak District spa town now famous for its annual Festival. Colin Wells details the successes and failures of the early playhouses. The first recorded theatre was clearly no architectural masterpiece. In 1790 Colonel John Byng derided it as a ‘mean, dirty, boarded thatched house’ and a visitor told her sister that ‘but for the words Pit and Boxes over the door, it would be mistaken for a barn’.

But out of these inauspicious beginnings came the impetus to build Frank Matcham’s magnificent opera house at the start of the twentieth century. Colin Wells describes its opening and early days, and explores the artistic triumphs and financial vicissitudes which followed.

Throughout, there is a lively cast of characters, ranging from the early, debt-ridden actor-managers to the remarkable Lilian Baylis, who brought her Old Vic company north for the first Buxton Festival.

buxton opera house
cover
hardback
dimensions
170x120mm, vi + 154 pp
list price
£12.95
ISBN
978 1 902173 023