House lights up!

Apr 29 2020 | By More

Lyceum reveals lock-down & re-start plans

Edinburgh’s Lyceum theatre has announced House Lights Up, a series of initiatives for the coming months of lockdown, as well as projects preparing to celebrate the theatre’s re-opening, when that day eventually comes.

The theatre, which had to cancel the remaining four productions in its current season when lockdown started and is delaying the announcement of its next season, will in the meantime be creating new productions in spaces “displaced from the stage”.

Patchwork and potato print examples for Curtain Up. Pics: The Lyceum

On an immediate practical level, the theatre’s staff will be working remotely with actors, designers, choreographers and other creatives to provide support and skills-development in their own homes, while its creative learning projects will go online.

These will be run by a skeleton team as most of its staff have been furloughed.

The two major parts of the five separate elements of the lockdown programme involve members of the public and were inspired by the personal support the theatre has received since lockdown, according to artistic director David Greig who described the dark theatre as being “in a state of hibernation”.

sad and sobering

He said: “Theatres want to be full of people, stories and life, so the process of evacuating buildings, cancelling shows, and contacting artists and audiences has been sad and sobering, but it has also made clear just how vital the connections we have with artists and audiences across the country are and how much all of us miss theatre being made in Edinburgh.”

Theatre is “the very opposite of social distancing”, he added, saying: “for many, theatre’s return has become a light at the end of the tunnel. This has inspired us to put together a series of activities to celebrate this hope and share our love of theatre together even while we are necessarily apart.”

However, simply because the auditorium is dark, doesn’t mean that the theatre’s work has stopped.

“We simply do not know when the day of re-opening will come and what kind of changed world we will find when we next take to the stage,” says Greig, “but while we are not making plays, we must not be closed to stories.”

Painting and drawing examples for Curtin Up. Pics: Lyceum Theatre

The Curtain Up project looks forward to the theatre re-opening. the Lyceum is inviting everyone to contribute to a “totemic artwork of hope and promise” by crafting a square patch artwork – 15cm x 15cm – a personal celebration of what they love about live theatre.

All the submissions will then be stitched together to form a collective celebration in the form of a new patch-work theatre curtain of over 1000 individual artworks from theatre-lovers which will be raised to mark the full re-opening of The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh.

In Lyceum Letters, Greig is inviting artists and audiences alike to contribute their stories about life in these unprecedented times in a letter to the Lyceum for a project that aims to capture a collective portrait of a world turned upside down.

insights, reflections and observations

Citizens of Edinburgh and beyond are invited to write to a letter of any length to the theatre: sharing insights, reflections and observations about life in lockdown and the significance of being able to share space.

Contributors will include writers Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Denise Mina, poets Tom Pow, George Gunn and Alec Finlay, director Tony Cownie, memoirist Raja Shehadeh, actors including Outlander star Sam Heughan, comedian Josie Long, and playwrights Jo Clifford, Hannah Lavery, Rona Munro, Elie Stewart and more.

A selection of letters will be read by actors and shared in a weekly podcast and will go on to form part of a special one-off show to re-open the theatre.

Listings and links

Curtain Up

Submissions are open now and more details, examples and instructions can be found at:
Every submission will be also be showcased on the website alongside a short description of the inspiration behind each contribution.

Lyceum Letters

Letters can be submitted by posting to: Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, 30b Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX or can be emailed to
Submissions are open now and all letters submitted will also be shared in full on The Lyceum’s website at

Adventures with the Painted People

David Greig’s new play, commissioned by Pitlochry Festival Theatre, was due to open this Summer. The stage production is now postponed until next year, but in the meantime it will be recorded for BBC Radio 3 as part of BBC Arts – Culture In Quarantine and broadcast this June. The cast includes Olivier Huband and Kirsty Stuart.

Scenes for survival

David Greig and Lyceum associate director Zinnie Harris will be contributing to the National Theatre of Scotland’s Scenes for Survival programme. A season of online works which will also act as a platform to raise money for a new hardship fund for artists and those in the theatre industry who have been hardest hit financially by the current crisis


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