Behind the scenes at The Lyceum

With its long tradition of theatrical innovation and an astonishing density of performance spaces, it’s little wonder that Edinburgh is one of the world’s most significant cities for the performing arts.

One of the city’s foremost performance spaces is The Lyceum. Built in 1883 for theatrical pioneers Howard and Wyndham, the building is a stunning example of late Victorian architecture. Since 1947 the theatre has been one of the key venues of the Edinburgh International Festival, and is also home to one of Scotland’s most important producing companies, the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company. 

With year-round performances, the company is one of the UKs largest—and busiest. At the helm is the new artistic director, David Greig, who took up the post just as the company has celebrated its 50th birthday. Greig is an award-winning playwright and theatre director, having enjoyed success at every major theatre in the UK, including the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Wind Resistance

Among the first productions overseen by Greig is Karine Polwart’s Wind Resistance, an intimate show that incorporates songs and stories in a heartfelt ode to the Scottish landscape.

For the performance, part theatre and part folk gig, Polwart strips back the set and faces the audience with her acoustic guitar. The piece is rich with poignancy and poetry, but is leavened by her unique Scottish sense of humour. This Scottish sensibility shines through in a video interview below, in which she walks us through the landscape at the heart of the show.

Although this is Polwart’s first theatrical piece, the show has received outstanding reviews across the national press. The Guardian calls her a ‘natural storyteller’ and describes the performance as steering a path between ‘personal memoir, anecdote, gig, philosophical musings, history and nature lecture.’ If you’re interested in hearing more about this process, you can watch two short films, which take a look at the way Polwart brings her thoughts and inspiration together. She has also been keeping a blog, which delves deeper into the art and ideas that underpin her work. You can watch the films below.