Letter from Maria

Letter from Maria

 Tuesday May 19th 2020 


Dear Lyceum 

I am writing to say how sorry I am to have been unable to visit you on Wednesday March 25th and also tonight on Tuesday May 19th. I was very much looking forward to Wind Resistance and Life is a Dream.  

But it’s more than that, isn’t it? I was looking forward to being with everyone, with you, held in your arms. In that warm velvet space something mysterious was going to happen, within each one of us, together, only there, only then, with you. 


You know. 

Where is the magic now? It is in the yellowed grasses greening, the brown buds flouncing pink, my lettuces pushing up through the dark earth, seeking light. Nature is running her seasons as usual.  

But where are yours? 

You sit with your empty seats, amongst empty streets, while the city waits. Here, the hills are busy. Lapwing and oyster catcher are swooping and shouting, the cuckoo is tooting, swallows have come back home. There is a starling which sits on the garden wall and quacks like a duck. A Red Kite visits, using the resistance of the wind to rise up above us all. Am I dreaming? It is Spring. Nothing has changed. 

Except we never go out of the glen. The radio enumerates daily deaths. We see no people. No people. But there are sheep. Hundreds I think. Lambs arrive through the day and night. If I step out across the field without looking, I might slip on a placenta. 

You were exquisite when you were born. You still are, my dear. I saw a map by John Bartholomew made in 1883, the year of your birth. There you are, with churches overlooking your shoulder and the bossy Lothian School Board school stood stoutly beside you, and across Lothian Road, the railway station, huffing and puffing. Was the air filthy? 

They are largely gone, but you dear Lyceum are still all these things – a place of faith, enlightenment and adventure. 

Did you read what the papers said then about your cardinal plush, your commodious and tastefully appointed green room, your lovely ladies’ room and your beautifully counterpoised three ton iron curtain? 

I am not as old as you, but I am ageing faster. I have been looking back recently. It is easier than looking forward. There is more to see. I keep letters. Do you? You will need a nice box for them. 

I love letters. Sometimes they tell the truth. Sometimes they mislead. But they are real. They have voices. We need them to tell our stories.  

I made a play with letters I found in a box. They were hidden, really concealed, for a very long time. I let out their secrets. Was that wrong? Only three performances, and then this.  Am I a Tell Tale Tit? Is the whole school being punished because of my Big Mouth?  

But let’s face it, my dear, you are a Tell Tale too.  

What times these are. What will become of us? What will we become? I have a box of my own letters. They are sent to me, and from me. There are photos too. During these strange days I am coming round and round again, meeting myself. We are always whoever we have been and are becoming, however sagging our chin, or hooded our eyes. One day I will be dead. But you will still be there. Wont you? Wont you? 

You have survived a lot so far : depression, riot, wars, deadly pandemic even. How was that one? People don’t talk about it much do they? 

But you will talk about this pandemic wont you? You won’t keep secrets. You will be a Tell Tale. We need you to talk about things. We need to hear from you about misinformation and mistakes, propaganda and lies. We need you to talk about suffering and joy and cruelty and disappointment and love. We need you to tell us who we are and where we have been and where we might possibly be going. You believe in us, you teach us, you take us to a world of infinite possibilities.  

I always feel differently after I have visited you.  

You know. 

So, I will see you again. Surely. I am looking forward to that visit. Very much. 

With love and hope from 

Maria Macdonell

Tags: From Audience