Edinburgh's Lyceum announces programme for audiences and artists under lockdown

Edinburgh's Lyceum announces programme for audiences and artists under lockdown

Lyceum's Artistic Director David Greig / credit: Aly Wight

House Lights Up features pitch surgeries and open auditions for artists, as well as new works, stories and classes to keep us creative and connected during the pandemic

Though our favourite theatres and venues remain shuttered due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the industry has been rapidly evolving and adapting to the strange circumstances we find ourselves in. The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh is one such institution that has risen to the challenge: their new activity programme, titled House Lights Up, brings the spirit of theatre to us at home on lockdown, keeping audiences and artists connected to the Lyceum throughout its closure

The programme contains a wide breadth of activities to help us remain creative, positive and reflective, no matter the state of the outside world. In Curtain Up, audiences are asked to create a 15cm x 15cm square patch artwork encapsulating why they love live theatre, which will then be stitched together to create a patchwork theatre curtain. When the Lyceum reopens and it is safe for us to be together again, the curtain will be raised over the stage, allowing the magic to resume once again.

Before that wonderful day, however, audiences are encouraged to share their thoughts and experiences during this unprecedented time through Lyceum Letters, wherein people are invited to write letters to the theatre which explore their reflections upon this surreal present moment and the importance of sharing space with others. Figures from the Scottish cultural world will also be contributing their observations of life under lockdown, including the likes of Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Val McDermid, Sam Heughan, Josie Long, Jo Clifford, Hannah Lavery, Rona Munro and more. The letters will then be read aloud by actors and shared on a weekly podcast, before forming a special one-off show once the Lyceum reopens. Letters can be submitted via post or email.

Much of the Lyceum's creative learning classes have also moved online. The Lyceum Youth Theatre will be participating in Company Three's Coronavirus Time Capsule, which will create a space for teenagers to process their experiences during the pandemic in a creative way. The Lyceum's Over 60s Acting Classes will also be taking place virtually via free drop-in sessions, allowing participants to connect with others, even under isolation.

A large part of the Lyceum's new programme is made up of their Working from Home initiative, which includes an array of online opportunities and engagements designed to support the creative sector during this difficult time. These include weekly one-to-one online open auditions for Scottish-based actors, hosted by Artistic Director David Greig, Association Directors Zinnie Harris and Wils Wilson, and Lyceum Producer Liz King. Other being-the-scenes creatives will be encouraged to get in touch through their Creative Speed Dates series, and Greig and King will be hosting virtual surgeries for Scottish directors and producers keen to hone their pitches for the UK theatre market and for help getting their ideas off the ground.

Though it will be a while yet until non-virtual live theatre returns to our stages, there is still plenty of new work coming out of the Lyceum's doors. David Greig's new play Adventures with the Painted People – which had been due to open this summer – can still be enjoyed as a BBC Radio 3 production this June, helmed by Olivier Huband and Kirsty Stuart. Likewise, Greig and Zinnie Harris will also be contributing to the National Theatre of Scotland's Scenes for Survival programme, a roster of online work that will help raise money for those in the theatre industry most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about House Lights Up and how to get involved, visit the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh's website.

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