Seats Up at the Lyceum

Sep 24 2020 | By More

Installation celebrates Scotland’s missing theatre

The foyer of the Royal Lyceum has become the set of #TakeASeat, with freelance theatre designers creating a tableaux of empty seats to mark the loss of theatre during the Covid pandemic.

Take a Seat will be on public display for what would have been the run of the opening production of the Lyceum’s 2020-21 season. It will be lit with an additional sound installation during show times.

Poster image by Brian Hartley

The #TakeASeat project has been created by Scotland-based set, costume, lighting and sound designers and production managers. They have used their creative skills to make the new installation which is designed to engage and inspire the audiences they are missing.

Bob Crowley, a set and costume designer, says: “The minute you put a chair on stage, it tells you a period, it tells you a culture, it tells you a civilisation – you can place that space instantly by the information that a chair gives you”.

The project started with an open call for people to use a chair as a base to tell the story of who they are and what they were missing most by not seeing live theatre. The 47 photo replies form a photo gallery on the #TakeASeat website.

call to arms

The organisers describe this second phase of the project as their collective response to the spaces they cannot be in: “it is a call to arms to our craft, an art installation and a love letter to absent audiences. It is a rallying call for creative and thought-provoking responses that both illustrate and celebrate Scotland’s remarkable theatre industry.”

The installation will remain in place from Thursday 24 September to Saturday 3 October 2020 and can be viewed by the public from the outside only.

At the curtain-up times of the show which should have been playing at the theatre – if Covid-19 hadn’t come along – the installation will get additional sound and light, creating a dynamic show for any audience who are on the pavement outside.

The creators of #TakeASeat during installation. Pic: Mickey Graham.

The installation has been created by theatre designers Claire Halleran, Karen Tennent, Becky Minto and Christine Urquhart; lighting designers Lizzie Powell, Emma Jones and Simon Wilkinson; lighting technician Andy Gannon; production managers Fi Fraser, Niall Black, Grahame Coyle and Chris Hay; and sound designer Amir Sherhan.

David Greig, artistic director of the Lyceum said: “We miss our audience. I have been visiting the theatre with staff and artistic teams, all in our masks, all making plans for safe reopening, looking to the future, imagining new ways to keep sharing stories.

“Inside our auditorium we have a single ghost light glowing, giving the space an eerie, hollow feeling. Standing in this theatre, so perfectly designed for a gathered hush of anticipation, the absence of people is palpable.

“#TakeASeat is a brilliant initiative designed to capture some of that feeling, to take the negative and turn it into a positive. The empty chair becomes a muse.”

Listing & links

Royal Lyceum Theatre
Grindlay Street EH3 9AX.
Thurs 24 Sept – Sat 3 Oct 2020
The installation is visible from the street at all times.
It will be lit with a soundtrack at the Lyceum’s usual curtain up times:
Evenings, Mon – Sat: 7.30pm; matinees Weds & Sat: 2.30pm.

#TakeASeat website:

Gallery of submitted seats:


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