Planning Your Visit and Frequently Asked Questions

On this page we’ve set out some notes and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about your visit to The Swallow Theatre. 

If there’s anything we’ve missed please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01988 850368 or info@swallowtheatre.co.uk

On the day of the show we are usually busy with the performers and getting ready so we often cannot answer the phone or pick up messages, so it’s best to contact as early as you can.

We want your visit to be as enjoyable as possible and we will do all we can to help you have a magical experience.

The performance spaces

For 2024 most performances will take place inside the theatre auditorium.

We have two outdoor performances scheduled for summer 2024 – please see the separate FAQ below about this.

For those who visited in 2021 or 2022, you may have seen our semi-outdoor garden marquee performance space. This structure is having a rest in 2024.

Outdoor performances

We have two outdoor performances scheduled for summer 2024 (Shakespeare in the Garden on Saturday 17 August). If the weather is good these will be fully open air, and will take place on the front lawn of the theatre gardens.

Please bring your own garden chair or rug. There will be a few benches and chairs available if you are not able to bring your own. We can reserve these for people with special needs – please let us know in advance.

Places on the lawn are unreserved. Please be considerate of others if you have high-backed chairs, or umbrellas.

If the weather is bad the performance will take place indoors. The decision about whether the show moves into the auditorium or remains outdoors is the responsibility of, and at the sole discretion of, the venue operators, in consultation with the performers. If possible, we shall email all ticketholders at the point we make the decision to move the show indoors. If you have not been informed of this, please come along prepared for the show to take place outdoors.

If the show takes place outdoors then you are welcome to bring a picnic to eat before the show or in the interval. Sorry but picnics are not allowed inside the auditorium.

Content warnings and recommended ages

We want to provide everyone with all the information they may need before deciding whether to come to see a show.

We provide a recommended age for each show. This is advisory information only, and it is up to the parent/guardian to decide whether the show will be suitable for a young person. Please call us if you would like more information. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

We also provide detailed content warnings for each show in a drop-down box.

Sometimes providing detailed information about topics that some people find distressing, or theatrical effects which can trigger reactions in some people, will give away aspects of the story or the effects used to create the magic and excitement of live theatre. We therefore provide the content information as a drop-down on each show page which you may access if you wish. Please be aware the information may contain spoilers.

The information we give is as provided to us by the producer of the show at the time of going on sale. Please note that shows do develop and evolve, and theatre is a live, and sometimes unpredictable, experience. We make every effort to provide information but the venue will not be held responsible if this information is incomplete or incorrect.

If you have specific concerns or would like further information about any show please contact us on 01988 850368 and we can discuss this with you.

How to buy a ticket

Tickets are available to purchase online from this website, and we highly recommend you purchase tickets in advance. You do not need to set up an account/login to use our online booking system. Since 2016 we have not charged additional booking fees – all costs are included as part of the stated ticket price.

If there are spare seats on the day, these will be available to buy on the door. We accept payment by cash and card.

The booking system will show you a seating plan. You can select your own allocated seat(s).

Tickets are emailed to you and should arrive very soon after your booking. If you do not receive them, please check your spam/junk folders. If the email is still not there, please email us on info@swallowtheatre.co.uk

Note, we are aware of an occasional problem for people with BTinternet and other BT-related email addresses. Sometimes these email servers block us and we have not yet been able to find a solution.

Choosing your seat

We welcome everyone, including solo visitors, to the theatre.  We try to make the experience for every visitor as good as possible, whether they come alone, or in a couple or a group.

If possible, please do not leave a single seat on the plan when you choose your seats, but that’s not because we don’t want single people to attend.

To be financially viable, we need to sell as many tickets as possible for every performance.  Some people only want to attend if they can sit with their friend/family.  That’s quite understandable – theatre is a shared experience and you may want to be able to hold hands with / giggle with / cry with / prod the ribs of the person you came with.  Some people need to sit next to their partner/friend because they are also their carer.

If we have blocks of seats (two or three together), rather than singles, it gives more options, and allows more people the chance to book what they want.

Why we offer you the chance to add a donation (updated April 2024)

We have kept our ticket prices as low as we can to help make our events affordable for as many people as possible in these challenging times. Most ticket prices have been kept at the same rates as in 2022 and earlier.

However, costs are rising for the performers and for the venue.

The Swallow Theatre is an independent venue and receives no arts funding. Many of the performers who come here are also independent self-employed artists and do not benefit from Arts Council/Creative Scotland funding.

For those customers who feel they could pay more and help support the arts, we have the following ways you can help:-

  • If you would like to support the performer of a particular show and would like to pay more for your ticket than the standard price, we offer the possibility to add more when you book your ticket. Any donation you add here will go into the pot of money attributed to this show, and split in accordance with our contract with this performer.
  • If you are unable to attend the show, and are within the period for our refund policy to apply, you can if you wish donate the money rather than requesting a refund. Any donation made in this way will go into the pot of money attributed to this show, and split in accordance with our contract with this performer.
  • At the checkout there is an opportunity to donate to The Swallow Theatre. If you donate here, the money will be retained by The Swallow Theatre and used to help with the general operating costs of the venue.
  • Become a Friend – our Friends scheme is a great way to support the theatre on an annual basis, and also gives you access to benefits such as priority booking and a printed brochure mailed to your home.

Please feel no obligation at all to donate or pay extra for your tickets – your order is supporting the theatre and performers already. Thank you.

Please note that The Swallow Theatre is a private partnership, and donations are not eligible for Gift Aid. Full details are in our Terms and Conditions.

We really value non-financial support too. Great things which really help are giving a ‘like’ or share to our social media posts, passing on any spare cuttings you may have of surplus plants that we can put in the garden, or displaying a poster for us. If you know somewhere that could display some brochures please take them to distribute, and please tell your friends and visitors to the region about us.

Our no quibble refund policy

So that you can book your ticket in confidence and as soon as possible, we offer a no-quibble refund policy*.

If you or anyone in your group cannot attend, for any reason, and you email us at least 48 hours before the performance start time, we shall provide you with a refund of the price you paid, less £1.50 per seat to cover the box office and payment card fees we will have already incurred.

If we as a venue have to cancel the performance ticketholders will be given a full refund including the box office and credit card fees which we still have to pay.

Please allow us 72 hours to process the refund, which will be made back to the card you used to make the payment. It can sometimes take a further 7-10 days for the money to arrive onto your bank/credit card statement.

* our refund policy does not apply to shows at the venue hosted by other organisations. In 2024 the only show excluded is The Swan of Salen hosted by Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival. Any exclusions are noted on the event description on our website.

How to get to the theatre

Please allow plenty of time for your journey. Except for music shows, or certain “semi-relaxed performances” (please see below), latecomers cannot be admitted if the show has started.

Please do not rely on road signs. We do not have tourist brown signs as unfortunately they are too expensive for us to justify the cost. Road signs to villages are often blown around by the wind.

The theatre is tucked away down some narrow lanes – you can download the directions here. Please allow plenty of time to find us. Some satnavs take you down a farm track – this is not necessary and really not a good idea unless you have a 4×4. You can get to the theatre on proper roads (when we say “proper” we mean the rural definition, i.e. expect potholes and grass growing down the middle of the lane).

There is no public transport to the theatre, and the nearest bus stop is about 3 miles away.

You are welcome to arrive by bike, however please note that we do not have bike-racks or changing facilities.

Many people have successfully arranged taxis to drop them off and pick them up. Each event page on our website gives the expected running time of the show. A list of taxi firms in the area can be found at https://walkthewhithornway.org/transport – scroll down to the Mochrum/Whithorn/Isle of Whithorn sections.

Our postcode is DG8 8DR.
What3Words: /// waters.inches.spans

Potholes (updated May 2024)

Please note the potholes in the lane the theatre is in are still really bad at the time of writing (May 2024). We have reported them to the council and have been told they are on the list to be fixed. We recommend driving very slowly along the lane. You can report potholes here: https://new.dumgal.gov.uk/roads-transport-and-parking/roads-footpaths-and-pavements/report-pothole-or-road-or-pathway-problem

Car park information (updated April 2024)

Audience car parking is in the field opposite the theatre.

If the weather has been wet for several days before the show the field can get a little muddy and slippery. On rare occasions small areas may be closed off – the rest of the field should be fine especially the higher parts. Over the last few years we have put down a large area of grass mesh which means that tyres should not get stuck in mud. Please drive slowly and carefully in the field.

Whatever the weather, it really helps our grass recover if you drive your car at creeping speed in the car park. Also, if safe to do so, please let your passengers out of the car before entering the car park.

Please do not spin your wheels – this just churns up the ground and makes it very difficult for other vehicles. Use the smallest amount of acceleration you can to edge the car forward little by little.

Please park as close as possible to the next vehicle so that we can get everyone in.

It is then a short walk along the lane to the theatre site. The lane can also get muddy so we recommend stout and waterproof footwear. Please be aware of traffic.

In the dark you may wish to bring a torch as there are no street lights near the theatre – but there are excellent stars on a clear night!

We have a small area of hardstanding disabled parking for two vehicles on the main theatre site, and you can also drop off people at the main gate. Please email or phone us in advance to let us know you need to park in the disabled spaces so that we can co-ordinate requirements. Please also see the FAQ below about accessibility.

Car park gate (NEW May 2024)

If you arrive in the last 20 minutes or so before the show start time, the car park gate may be shut.  This means that the field car park has reached its capacity given the weather conditions on that day.  In this case, please go to the main theatre entrance, go in through the gate and immediately bear left through the dry stone wall gap, and park on the front lawn where you will see other cars parked. 

Please only park on the front lawn if the main car park is shut, or if you have pre-arranged this with us for accessibility reasons.

Motorhomes and campervans (NEW April 2024)

If you wish to bring a motorhome or campervan please let us know in advance.

It is the responsibility of the motorhome owner to assess the suitability of the parking position and the likelihood of them having a problem due to the weight of the vehicle. In the event that someone in a motorhome comes and does get stuck we will do our best to help to arrange to get them towed off, but if any fees are incurred they would be the responsibility of the motorhome owner and not the theatre.

We would recommend not bringing a motorhome unless the weather has been dry for some length of time prior to your visit.

The size of the parking area is limited and if it is full house the car park can be crowded with vehicles, so we if you wish to come in your motorhome we ask that that you discuss this with us in advance.

We do not permit overnight stays. If you see a motorhome or campervan with us in the morning then it will belong to our personal friends and/or performers.

There are caravan sites in the villages around us, and some people then cycle to us from their campsite.

Late arrivals, and coming and going into the auditorium during the performance

We are very sorry but for nearly all shows latecomers cannot be admitted once the performance has started.

For music events, latecomers may sometimes be allowed to enter during applause. For drama performances, latecomers cannot be admitted, unless it is advertised as a “semi-relaxed” performance – please see below.

Please therefore allow plenty of time to get to the theatre, particular if you are not familiar with the route.

Once the show has started, we ask you to stay in your seat until the interval or end of the performance (we give the length of each performance on our website).

The reason for this is because there is only one audience door, and it leads directly onto the stage.

One of the joys of theatre is to be in a dedicated space, focussing on the performance, with a group of other people as a collective experience, and a cast of actors or musicians who are presenting that event uniquely and exclusively for the people in the room, all reacting off each other’s responses to the show. In our opinion this is what makes live performance so special.

So that the atmosphere is not broken, and to be fair to the performers and the other audience members, we therefore have a no-latecomers, and no coming-and-going policy.

We are truly sorry that this policy may exclude some people with medical conditions and special needs. If we were able to, we would love to be able to offer some relaxed performances. Unfortunately, because of the tiny size of the venue, the limited number of performances of each show, and being an independent and unfunded venue, this is just not financially viable. However, we are trialling this is in 2024 – please see below.

“Semi-relaxed” performances (NEW April 2024)

For the matinee 1.30pm performance of Pride & Prejudice on 14 May we are trialling what we are calling a “semi-relaxed” performance.

Audience members will be able to come-and-go into the auditorium if they need to visit the toilets or stretch their legs.

The house lights will be kept on at a low level.

Given the small space and to be fair to everyone we request that audience members are as quiet as possible during the performance.

We are very grateful to Hotbuckle Productions for supporting this venture.

The ticket check procedure

We ask guests to state the name of the person who booked the tickets. We shall check you off our list of expected attendees. We generally do not ask to see tickets, but please bring your ticket(s) with you, either printed or on your phone, in case of problems. Please note we do not have public WiFi at the theatre, and mobile signal is poor, so please download your ticket in advance.

The site will be open from 45 minutes before the performance start time.

We ask you to be here at least 15 minutes before the performance time.

Until the auditorium opens you can wait in the Sumner Room foyer/bar area or in the garden. We call people into the auditorium approximately 10 minutes before the start of the performance.

What to bring

Please keep your belongings to a minimum, and keep them with you at all times.

We do not have cloakroom facilities.

You may like to bring with you: a cushion, a rug, insect repellent, sun cream, sun hat/sun visor, and a torch. It could get very cold, so please bring suitable clothing. The lane between the car park and the theatre can be muddy so please wear suitable footwear.

Unless the show specifically invites you to bring a picnic, please do not bring picnics into the theatre gardens or buildings. You are welcome to eat a picnic in the car park. There are several beautiful beaches and picnic areas a short drive away.

Dogs are not allowed on the theatre site, except for assistance dogs – please see the FAQ on accessibility below.

What to wear (NEW April 2024)

Please wear whatever makes you feel great. It’s a small space so all we ask is that your clothes are clean and respectful to those sitting alongside you. If you would like to dress smartly for a night out, that’s beautiful to see. If you prefer to dress casually that’s OK with us.

The auditorium and gardens can be chilly, so it’s a good idea to bring warm layers and coats/rugs. There is heating in the auditorium but it can still feel chilly on cold nights. In a heat-wave it can be very warm – we have fans but it can get hot.

Phones, cameras and photography

Please turn your phone completely off, or to flight mode, before entering the auditorium. Given the small space, if a phone is able to receive signals (even if it is switched to silent) then it can interfere with our sound equipment and generate a buzzing sound on the stage.

Please do not take photos or videos during the performance. This can be disruptive to the performers and to other audience members.

We usually take photographs and videos of performances in an unobtrusive way. We try not to publish identifiable images of audience members but please see our terms and conditions for full details about filming and photography.

Pre-show and interval refreshments

We offer a limited selection of refreshments including wine, locally brewed Five Kingdoms beer, luxury soft drinks, Fairtrade filter coffee, tea, biscuits and Cream o’ Galloway ice cream.

You are welcome to take a drink from the bar into the auditorium: please ask for a compostable disposable cup. We ask that no glass or china is taken into the theatre auditorium.

We compost all our paper and corn-starch cups and lids on site.

Please unwrap any sweets or biscuits you want to take into the auditorium in advance – wrappers can be very loud when they crinkle, and it’s a very small space, so we’ll all hear it.

We accept payment by contactless card and by cash. Receipts will not be issued: if you require a receipt let the server know and one will be emailed to you in the 72 hours following the show.

We ask that only drinks purchased from us are to be consumed on the theatre site – by buying a drink from us you are helping support the theatre. You are welcome to bring your own water bottle which we will gladly fill with tap water.

Bar opening after the show

The bar will be open after most shows and you are welcome to stay on for a while. Many shows are followed by an optional Q&A with the performer or writer. These always offer fascinating insights into the play and are usually held in the bar.

Toilets facilities

We have two audience toilets, both unisex. One is a large cubicle with wide access and grip handles.

Wash basins are located within each cubicle and paper towels are provided.

We regularly check the toilets but should they not be acceptable, please let us know.

Accessibility information

There is a small amount of blue-badge parking. This is about 25 metres from the theatre auditorium, with step-free access (with slopes). Please email or phone us in advance to let us know you need to park in the disabled spaces so that we can co-ordinate requirements.

There is sloped access into the foyer/bar.

Wheelchair spaces are available in the auditorium, and seats which are step-free, and seats close to the front for those with vision/hearing requirements. We hold back row B for this purpose until most other seats are sold. After this, these accessible seats become available to anyone who wishes to purchase a ticket.

There is a large toilet cubicle with grab rails.

Assistance dogs are permitted if they are working/harnessed. Please let us know in advance that you need to bring a dog.

If you have any particular needs to enable you to attend a performance please do phone us on 01988 850368. We shall make every effort to try to help you.

Dogs and other pets (NEW April 2024)

Sorry, dogs and other animals are not allowed in the theatre garden or buildings. Assistance dogs are permitted if they are working/harnessed. Please let us know in advance that you need to bring your assistance dog.

Some people leave their dogs in their cars during the performance. If you feel this is acceptable please ensure your dog will not bark or cause any distress to people going to neighbouring vehicles. If you need to leave a dog in your vehicle you will need to park in the car park field – the blue-badge parking is on the main theatre site where only assistance dogs on duty are allowed.

The reason for this strict policy is because one of the theatre owners has a fear of unknown dogs, and other audience members may feel the same way. We are sure that your particular dog is the most friendly one in the world, and you have your dog under control, but unfortunately not all dog owners are so considerate to those who do not share their passions for pets.

Picnics

Unless the show is an outdoor performance which specifically invites you to bring a picnic, please do not bring picnics into the theatre garden or buildings. You are welcome to eat a picnic in the car park. There are several beautiful beaches and picnic areas a short drive away.

Places to stay, eat and visit in the area (NEW April 2024)

There are many lovely places to stay, eat and visit in The Machars area of Wigtownshire. We recommend looking at https://scotlandstartshere.com/ for ideas.

The Garden (updated April 2024)

You are welcome to enjoy the theatre garden. Please note that after wet weather there is a large pond so young children and vulnerable people should be looked after. Watch out for uneven ground.

Our address is ‘Moss Park’ and in Scots the word ‘moss’ means bog. We are surrounded by cattle fields. And we have a nature pond. So we do tend to have a few insects flying around on warm still nights. They are a bit annoying but they don’t bite much. We recommend you put on some of your favourite anti-insect repellent before visiting.

We run the garden as much as possible on an organic and wildlife friendly basis.

We deliberately allow some areas of grass to grow long and wild.

We never call a plant a ‘weed’ – to us it is a ‘pioneer plant’.

Overall the site is approximately 3 acres. We have lots of plans for the space, which if we are honest, are beyond our current time availability, budget and skill level! But they give us immense pleasure and we hope regular visitors will enjoy following our progress.

Recent developments include:-

  • The troughs by the entrance have been replanted with bulbs and bearded irises. Watch this space – of 75 tulips planted, about 8 have come up so far.
  • The lavenders at the bottom of the drive were not thriving so over winter 2023/24 we dug them out. It’s a very wet part of the garden so this narrow strip is now called ‘the canal border’. We’ve replanted it with plants that are meant to tolerate wet conditions.
  • The grass in the area that held the bar marquee in 2023 became pretty wrecked by the end of the season so we are trying to level it up and reseed it. At the start of 2024 the area will be roped-off to allow the grass time to recover.

Long-term projects (and their fancy names) include:-

  • ‘The long border’ – straight ahead as you go onto the front lawn from the entrance, this used to be an area of rough grass and wildflowers. We are slowly converting it to a border of herbaceous perennials and shrubs.
  • ‘The white garden’ – the tiny triangle on your left as you enter the main gate. The plan is for an area of white flowers which will look magical at dusk. Several more plants have been added over the last couple of years but it needs more work.
  • ‘The field’ – the paddock behind the car park now has four (three, one died) fruit trees and more are planned. We are mowing more of the field each year in preparation for planting.
  • ‘The road border’ – the little strip between the car park and the site entrance. We’ve planted this with low-growing evergreen flowering ground cover but the ferns still dominate.
  • ‘The mound’ – the tangle of shrubs and trees on the left on the path down to the theatre. We have a plan, but it will take a lot of effort to get this how we want.
  • ‘The rain garden’ – we’d love to convert the (not-always-a) pond into a rain garden. This is a concept of an area of ground that looks good in both drought and flood, and contains plants designed to cope with both.