Festival hit by blaze at theatre: Edinburgh may be forced to move some events to Glasgow for the first time

EDINBURGH Festival officials were in talks with the owners of the city's Playhouse theatre last night after a backstage fire at the venue put 11 festival performances at risk.

If the Playhouse cannot stage the shows and alternative venues cannot be found, Glasgow could take part of the Edinburgh International Festival for the first time since the arts gathering started in 1947.

Work on the pounds 2m first stage of a pounds 4m renovation was nearing completion when arson destroyed parts of the rear entrance to the Playhouse on Wednesday and caused smoke damage to the interior. A gala performance tomorrow featuring the singer, Michael Ball, has been rescheduled. The Cameron Mackintosh organisation is promoting the gala and a season of the musical, Les Miserables, beginning on 16 September. Advance bookings run into millions of pounds and the Playhouse's owner, Apollo Leisure UK Limited, has told Cameron Mackintosh it envisages 'no problems'.

The same reassurance has not been given to the festival, which has 11 performances, involving two opera companies and one dance company, at the Playhouse. If sold out, takings would have been pounds 450,000. Joanna Baker, festival marketing director, said fire officials had told her the theatre was safe. 'So we've said we want to go ahead.'

A major loss would be receipts from the Mark Morris Dance Company, from New York, one of the financial successes at last year's festival. 'They telephoned to ask if they should come. We told them 'Get on that plane',' Ms Baker said. Just over 12,000 seats have been sold for Mark Morris, the Canadian Opera Company and the Welsh National Opera.

Lothian and Borders Fire Department said the blaze started outside the theatre's loading bay. Materials, including paint from the refurbishing work, were stored outside a temporary corrugated structure joining the main theatre. Fire officer Derek Bannan said: 'Rubbish was maliciously set alight. There is extensive smoke damage . . . But the theatre itself is safe.'

A spokeswoman for the Playhouse said that renovation work was 'almost complete. It involved 10 or 11 main contractors. We were on schedule'.

Nearly every theatre is taken for the official festival or the extensive Fringe and rivalry between Glasgow and Edinburgh has meant that Glasgow has never staged a festival event.

However, the Theatre Royal in Glasgow has been unofficially contacted. Peter Helps, the general manager, said: 'We were approached and have informed the festival that we do have available dates to suit them.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee