A letter from Helen

A letter from Helen

A letter to the Lyceum

In the 1960s a visit to the Royal Lyceum Theatre was a doorway to wonder and dreams for an eight-year-old girl from rural Galloway. From a life on a farm it opened up her eyes to the world of arts and theatre and possibilities.

I had a mother who loved theatre and a father who loved music and opera.

I can’t remember the first time I was brought to the Lyceum by my parents as a child. We drove in a Triumph Herald leaving our farm in Galloway to drive to Edinburgh to have something to eat before a play at the Lyceum or the Kings. I don’t remember ever staying the night so they must have driven home in the dark back to the farm.

I remember going Glasgow to see Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. These visits to theatres instilled in me a love of theatre, a love of seeing people on a stage taking me to a world I did not fully understand.

Now 50 years later I thank those parents who nurtured that love.

Now the Theatre is closed – a virus has done what wars could not even stop. Close theatres. Too dangerous to even sit next to one another. Yet part of the magic of theatres is the idea that everyone is there for the same reason – to share the joy of watching live theatre or music.

It’s sad to see such a busy, busy theatre having to cancel shows. But I like to think it is just in hibernation. Closed to the outside but the minds of the actors, actresses, directors and producers are busy planning for a future.

Theatres have given dreams to generations of children and this lockdown has given us all a chance to reflect on the past and look to the future. For a theatre to remember the generations of theatregoers who sat in the seats and were transfixed by the action on the stage.

For a theatre to look to a future that is uncertain and find new ways of reaching children and audiences.

The lockdown means different things to people. For many it is a chance to stop. To stop the pace of all our lives. For me it was a chance to reflect and understand, for the first time, how my own father must have felt when illness forced his own lockdown and he was locked into his own mind.

The disease MND took away his lovely tenor singing voice very quickly, his ability to walk and talk and swallow.

He never once asked what was wrong with him and he kept locked inside his own head the fear and anger. He lost all control of his own life and he never once asked ‘why’.

Lockdowns mean something different for everyone.

Helen McKain

Tags: From Audience