I’ve been missing you dear heart. Thinking of you in lockdown over there in Grindlay Street, sleeping quietly in your Victorian finery, with only a working light to keep you company. All dressed up and nowhere to go. For now. But poised and waiting to rustle your skirts, strut your stuff, shake your shoulders, show your knickers. Waiting to shout, waiting to whisper, waiting to sing and swoop and soar and dig deep.
And waiting for us. For me.
I miss you now just as much as I missed you all these years ago when my mother and I would go each week to see whatever the Wilson Barrett Company had on offer, and then I had to wait a whole long week for the next one. We’d gossip in the interval about the play and the actors, we had our favourites, with, as a treat, tea and a biscuit served to our seat in the stalls. Or even before that when I was eight or nine and saw my first real drama. Most unsuitable for children, featuring illicit sex, murder and a sinister Herbert Lom. My Mum was mortified but I was transfixed. A story told by real people who made you believe. Believe absolutely. Actors magically turning, in this case, base metal into gold. Not like panto. I knew that wasn’t true. Though it was fun. But this? Well. It could be real, it really could. I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to go again. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
Stories. That’s what it’s all about at heart isn’t it? Stories. And theatre is the fire round which we gather to be pulled in to these other worlds, other lives, reflections of ourselves.. Which open our eyes and ears and jangle up our imagination. Stories. We can’t get enough of them. We need them to make sense of the world. They can take us to new and old places and bring us right round back again to home.
Of course theatre, good theatre, can happen anywhere. The famous empty space can be filled with drama which rocks us mightily: Ninagawa’s Medea at the University Old Quad, Jock Tamson’s Bairns and Mahabarata at the Tramway, Becky Does a Bronco at a playground near you.
But a theatre, a theatre as bijou as you, a jewel in the heart of Edinburgh, can do any kind of work, and does. And just when we’re settling down comfortably in Row E, shrugging off our coats, figuring out what to do with our umbrellas, dutifully switching off our phones, you can jolt us out of our seats with something as good as, say, Solaris. Great stories, well told. That’s what you’re there for. That’s why we buy our tickets, that’s why we come through your doors.
So. You’re waiting for us, and we are waiting for you. We want to see what surprises you’ve got up your brocade sleeve, which new stories you’re waiting to tell, how you’re going to tell them. We want to gather round the fire again, be part of that extraordinary event in which we experience something, everything, together.
I hope it won’t be too long before the wait is over. Got to admit, I feel more than a bit bereft without you. It’s been a seventy-five year relationship, and I’m beginning to have separation anxiety.
I’m looking forward though, with anticipation. And with hope.
In the meantime, take care, stay warm, keep those embers glowing.
See you in the bar.
PS This is a love letter.