Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh enters ‘hibernation’ period

Having closed its doors on March 16th this year, The Royal Lyceum Edinburgh is now postponing all shows until at least Spring 2021. Making it clear they would not announce their season until they secure information for when audiences will able to safely attend. Suffering a loss of £700,000 in income due to the pandemic, with evident measures of social distancing likely to last until the year’s end, the theatre is facing the dire choice of entering redundancy discussions with unions, losing members of its theatrical family, or complete closure before Winter.

An icon of the city, The Lyceum is a lifeblood for the arts community and has been since 1883. Home for much of the Edinburgh International Theatre’s productions, with massive support from locals, it has endeavoured to sustain itself through austerity – where a vast number of its increasing income is earned through ticket sales. As a grant-aided company, this, unfortunately, means that as steady income halts there is no longer an inbound revenue. Sustaining itself thus far thanks to generous donations from the public, and continuing support from Creative Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council, the theatre’s board have made financial projections that, without intervention, the Lyceum will empty its funds in November this year.

Speaking directly on the issue, the Lyceum’s artistic director David Greig said:

To protect The Lyceum from closure we have to act now to preserve the theatre company and our ability to create theatre in Edinburgh in the future. Sadly, to do this we have to reduce the wage costs which make up the vast majority of our expenditure…

…This will mean losing friends from our theatre family – people I am in awe of, who make the magic happen on our stage and who are much loved and valued. Very sadly, with our principal income stream removed during this epidemic, the stark choice we face is between a redundancy process now to reduce our expenditure, or total closure before Christmas – an alternative that would leave the Lyceum shut long after the pandemic has passed.

Entering this period of hibernation will allow us to conserve the limited resource we have through the dark winter of Covid-19 and emerge, hopefully in the spring, with enough capacity to make theatre again with the brilliant theatre-makers of Scotland for the people of Edinburgh”.

Previous high-selling shows, such as the theatre’s annual Christmas production will be pushed back until 2021. Ticket holders for rescheduled shows will be contacted in due course. Meanwhile, it has been made clear that there will be continuing support for the city, as the Lyceum will maintain to operate community engagement and creative learnings.

With glimmers of hope, and re-schedules occurring, the theatre is working with producers and artists for a re-opening, but as of right now the focus is to conserve the minimal resources remaining. Our thoughts go to staff, colleagues, producers and cherished friends working towards a dawning era of post-COVID 19 theatre for the people of Scotland.

Further information, donations and contact details can be found on The Royal Lyceum’s website:https://lyceum.org.uk/

Photo credit & copyright – Royal Lyceum Theatre

Scottish Opera – Fever! Teaching & Parental Resources

Continuing their commitment to broadening the scopes of opera and young minds across Scotland and the UK, Scottish Opera is making a wealth of materials and learning tools available to the public, aimed at children studying around the primary five-seven brackets.

As of today (May 11th) schools and families will have access to online teaching resources for the popular primary schools production Fever! Featuring music by Alan Penman, with lyrics courtesy of Allan Dunn, Fever! Was first performed in 2011 and has remained a firm favourite since. For the first time, this online version of the tool has been made available for those at home, allowing the country to delve into the humorous and fast-paced tale. All of which will culminate in a nationwide virtual performance at the end of June.

Underpinning an appropriately aged message, tackling the concepts of epidemics, viral transmissions and the equally as dangerous spreading of false news, Fever! tells the story of a young boy who is overcome by a mysterious illnessAs the doctors frantically search for a cure, a rush of media, hungry for a piece of the scoop, bombard the hospital.

Until June 15th, this series of audio teaching tracks, activity materials and videos will cover a variety of topics, not limiting themselves to the obvious. Creative writing, prop and costume creation, and science will all be incorporated into the tools. Featuring seasoned cast members Lucy Hutcheson and Alan McKenzie from the Primary School tours, illustrations for the resources are by Iain Piercy. Advocating the communication of story through artistic means, the tools also look at the mechanics of the human body, disease, and perhaps vitally for younger generations, the impact of the press and media on everyday lives. Designed to tie into teachers delivering core elements of the Curriculum of Excellence such as social studies, history, technologies, literacy, and citizenship, the tools are equally available to parents outside of the curriculum.

For those who think opera can only exist in the past, Scottish Opera once more reminds us that the art form is relevant, accessible and underpins contemporary issues. Information and resources can be located here: www.scottishopera.org.uk/fever.

Photo credit – Sally Jubb

Edinburgh Tradfest – Wild Mountain Thyme

With thirty-six artists spanning the globe, performing one of most popular Scottish/Irish folk songs Wild Mountain Thyme, The Edinburgh Tradfest is marking what would have been its launch day in the best possible way, bringing the heart of tradition and music into the comfort of our homes.

At noon on May 1st, the day the festival was due to launch, Edinburgh Tradfest is releasing a recording and video of the popular song via YouTube, with the link provided from social media. Coming from local and far, artists from Scotland, Ireland, England, California, Nova Scotia and Norway have recorded themselves for the project under the guiding eye of Traditional Artist in Residence Mike Vass, edited by Edinburgh video maker Ruth Barrie from Waltzer Films.

Noted artists for the recording include but are not limited to, acclaimed folk musician and original festival headliner Eliza Carthy; Fiona Hunter, Rachel Newton, James Mackintosh, Shetland fiddlers including Catriona Macdonald and Chris Stout, accordion player Phil Alexander, and Irish folk-singer Daoirí Farrell. A full list of performers can be found below.

Selected for its uplifting ability with the Scottish people, Wild Mountain Thyme is likely to bring comfort to those music fans and traditional enthusiast across the world during these trying times, where often tradition is a solace to those whose families are separated. While no easy task in formulating this recording, the team has come together to craft something they are no-doubt proud of and fittingly mark the occasion. 

Notably, the recording also signals the start of the festival’s fundraising campaign for their 2021 season, already brimming with ideas to showcase the best in traditional arts: https://www.givey.com/edinburghtradfest2021

Released on YouTube, make sure you’re following Edinburgh Tradfest online to find out more:

edinburghtradfest.com, Twitter.com/@EdinTradfest, Facebook.com/tradfestedinburgh, Instagram.com/@EdinTradfest

Full Performance listing:

Lead vocals: Eliza Carthy, Fiona Hunter (Malinky), Steve Byrne (Malinky), Mike Vass (Malinky), Daoirí Farrell, Nuala Kennedy, A.J Roach, Olivia Ross (The Shee), Kaela Rowan (Shooglenifty), J.P Cormier, Ciorstaidh Chaimbeul (Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail)

Fiddles: Holli Scott (Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail), Fiona MacAskill (Kinnaris Quintet), Aileen Reid (Kinnaris Quintet), Laura Wilkie (Kinnaris Quintet), Eilidh Shaw (Shooglenifty), Sam Sweeney, Catriona Macdonald (Shetland Springs), Chris Stout (Shetland Springs), Kevin Henderson (Shetland Springs), Ross Couper (Shetland Springs), Margaret Robertson (Shetland Springs), Mike Vass (Malinky)

Accordion: Phil Alexander (Moishe’s Bagel)

Clarsàch: Rachel Newton (The Shee)

Whistle/flute: Ali Hutton (Old Blind Dogs), Mark Dunlop (Malinky)

Pipes: Malin Lewis 

Mandolin: Laura-Beth Salter (Kinnaris Quintet)

Guitar: Kaela Rowan (Shooglenifty), Jenn Butterworth (Kinnaris Quintet)

Pedal steel: Ross Martin (Dàimh)

Banjo: Evie Ladin

Bass: Keith Terry

Cittern: Aaron Jones (Old Blind Dogs)

Bouzouki: Steve Byrne

Drums/percussion: James Mackintosh (Shooglenifty), Donald Hay (Old Blind Dogs), Signy Jakobsdóttir (The Shee)