Build Your Own Theatre

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To celebrate what would have been the opening month of Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s 2020 season - and the 69th anniversary of the acclaimed Perthshire theatre opening up as a Tent Theatre, in 1951 - the venue are offering families a fun-filled lockdown treat!

The team at PFT has created a beautifully illustrated, online book to help families (and theatre-loving single folks!) create their own amazing theatre tent in their home or garden, using everyday household items - all you’ll need is your imagination!

PFT has created a beautifully illustrated book to inpsire lovers of the arts to create their own amazing theatre tent.Budding theatre-makers can also take pictures of their home-made stage, send them to the theatre, or post them on the Theatre’s social media channels, and the three selected, will win a Family Ticket to a show of their choice in 2021.

The idea is simple. As visitors are sadly unable to visit Pitlochry Festival Theatre right now - we should all have been singing in the aisles to the top Broadway musical, Gypsy - why not build your own?

Simply download your copy of How To Build Your Own Theatre and let yourself be inspired by the colourful illustrations and magical characters - now bring them all to life and you could be one of those three lucky winners! 


The History of Pitlochry Festival Theatre

The original tent theatre was opened in 1951 by a man called John Stewart. Stewart came from Glasgow with a wonderful plan to open a unique theatre in Pitlochry. Unfortunately, coming straight after the Second World War his dream was short lived due to a severe shortage of building materials such as bricks and concrete.

He knew he had to find another way to build his theatre and hit on the idea of putting a big tent in the garden of his house in Lower Oakfield in Pitlochry, similar to the wet weather tents in London’s Regent Park and Birmingham’s Arena.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre are looking for families to help them celebrate... using items found at home or in the garden!With the support of Tom Johnston, chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board, the Ministry of Works finally capitulated, and permission was given for a little steel and a little timber, so that the tent theatre could be completed. He bought a tent, a stage, seats, and a big safety curtain to hang between the stage and the audience.

On the 19th May 1951 Pitlochry Festival Theatre was born with the opening production of the British première of Maxwell Anderson’s Mary of Scotland, with the celebrated British actor, Joss Ackland as Darnley.

Could You Create A Theatre Tent?

Sixty-nine years later the team at Pitlochry Festival Theatre are looking for families to help them celebrate by designing their own theatre tent using items found at home or in the garden.

Brainchild of Pitlochry’s Artistic Director, Elizabeth Newman explained, “We’re all finding it so sad that we can’t welcome our wonderful audiences to the Theatre this summer, and very many of our visitors are sending such lovely, but sad messages, saying how much they are missing coming to see us too. I wanted to find a way to make sure they could still visit us somehow… So I came up with the idea that they could build their own theatre at home."

“With some incredibly talented Pitlochry Festival Theatre artists – Barbara Hockaday, Adrian Rees and Trudy Rees-Marklew - we’ve created a fully illustrated guide of How to Build Your Own Theatre."

"Our Theatre originally started in a tent not a building, so we imagined it would be fun to build the original Festival Theatre. It also includes a story and songs for children and families of all ages to perform together, and how to make the props, costumes and set for the performance! We can’t wait to hear about how everyone’s got on."

My most vivid childhood memories are making dens, forts and theatres in my grandparents' kitchen.Theatre Designer Adrian Rees agrees! “I had the most wonderful grandparents. My most vivid childhood memories are making dens, forts and theatres in their kitchen. This was after we had already made toffee and fudge. We used old blankets and towels draped over the kitchen chairs and table, held on with pegs. We used our toys to tell stories and act out plays.

"They have stuck in my head all my life. It’s from those memories, I have imagined ways to recreate the amazing Pitlochry Tent Theatre with things you might find around your house. The greatest fun, though, is where Theatre-makers come up with their own ideas too: use my ideas as a starting point and then go with it. There are no right and wrong ways. You can use anything you like as long as you have fun!”

“I must also say, make sure that it’s okay to use an item first. Ask before you use the best towels, or cushions! And remember, it is fun to get your family to help you. Playing together and making each other laugh are the best feelings in the world!”

Pictures of your handmade theatre entries can be:

PFT TentEmailed to:,

Posted to: Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Port Na Criag, Pitlochry, PH16 5DR

Posted on: PFT Facebook timeline: @PitlochryFestivalTheatre

Entries will be displayed on the Pitlochry Festival Theatre website with the winners decided by the theatre’s Artistic Director Elizabeth and award-winning theatre designer Adrian Rees.

To download your copy of How To Build Your Own Theatre go to

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