In 1933, a local freelance journalist and playwright named Alexander B. Paterson founded the original Byre Theatre. Initially a semi-derelict cow byre was quickly transformed it into a space able to accommodate their theatrical output. This marked the beginning of the ‘St Andrews Play Club’, which still performs at the theatre to this day. After a number of improvements and renewals, an entirely new Byre Theatre was inaugurated in 2001.
The Byre Theatre, as it stands on Abbey Street today, having been carefully designed by award winning architects Nicoll Russell Studios, has fulfilled A. B. Paterson’s final wishes. The building opened in 2001 with a critically acclaimed performance of Into the Woods. The theatre continued to impress and maintained a constant 5 star status as a top tourist attraction in Scotland. However, in January 2013 the Byre Theatre of St Andrews went into liquidation after experiencing financial difficulties. The Byre Theatre officially reopened its doors once again in October 2014 thanks to a management agreement with, among others, the University of and the Municipality to which St. Andrews belongs. The university programs the multipurpose proscenium theater with all kinds of theatrical and musical performances and rehearsals. The space is an intimate auditorium with 220 fixed seats in a single amphitheatre tier. It has a correspondingly dimensioned fly tower with theatrical equipment.
Designed for (unamplified) drama, the acoustics appeared to “dry” for other types of performance, in particular for music. In other words, the Reverberation Time (RT) od ca. 1 second was too short for appropriate musical envelopment. When investigating a feasible solution to overcome this problem, the university concluded that an advanced electronic acoustic enhancement system would be the most practicable and economical solution. That is, without the necessity of major and costly alterations to the building. Therefore, after experiencing a SIAP system in another hall, a similar SIAP installation was purchased for the Byre.
After careful on-site tuning of the SIAP system to the needs of the theatre through measurements, subjective fine-tuning was done with actors and different live music ensembles, ranging from different solo instruments, chamber music and vocal ensembles etc. this was a very effective way of tailoring the acoustic presets. Like in other halls, the presets range from ca. 1 to 5 seconds in a number of incremental steps: from piano recital through chamber music to vocal soloists and choirs.