The first proposals for a theatre in Kirkcaldy came in June 1889, when Provost Michael Beveridge called for a memorial to social philosopher Adam Smith, now widely regarded as the father of modern economics.
The Provost died shortly afterwards, but left a bequest of £50,000 in his will – a small fortune at the time – to build a public hall, a park and a library.
The building was opened on 11th October 1899 by Andrew Carnegie, who described it as “a hall with a fine organ and stage suitable for concerts, charades, private theatricals, meetings of philanthropic committees, lectures upon interesting and instructive topics and entertainments of all kinds”.
In its early years, the theatre – then known as the Adam Smith Halls – became a popular venue for opera and orchestral concerts, boxing tournaments and exhibitions of dance. In 1913, the silent movie “From the Manger to the Cross” became the first of many films to be shown in the building .
The halls saw active use during both world wars. In the First World War, 300 members of the Highland Cyclist Battalion were billeted there, while during the Second World War, Polish troops were billeted to bolster coastal defense against invasion.
After the war, Perth Theatre began to produce and perform highly popular weekly plays in the halls, and strong links were forged with Kirkcaldy’s Amateur Operatic Society and Gilbert and Sullivan Society. In 1972, to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Adam Smith, the halls were renovated to create a cultural centre for the community at large. The building reopened in 1973 as the Adam Smith Centre, with the first event hosted being a top-level economic conference discussing themes such as “Adam Smith as a Social Thinker and/or Moral Philosopher” and “Adam Smith and the Political Economy of Marxism”.
The new middle-scale auditorium, with a seating capacity of 475, was created and designed for use as a theatre, concert hall or cinema, and an enlarged stage, modern lighting system, air conditioning, modernized dressing rooms and immensely improved acoustics were added.
The theatre has since hosted shows ranging from Tommy Cooper to Frankie Boyle, The Nolans to Eddi Reader, and Matt Munro to Jools Holland. As well as receiving professional touring productions, more than a dozen amateur groups use the theatre each year, maintaining the building’s close relationship with the local community.