Entertainment

Theatre turns empty chairs into artwork as it laments missing audiences

Take A Seat at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh is animated with light and sound.

Empty chairs are being transformed into an artwork at an Edinburgh theatre to symbolise the audiences who have been missing during lockdown.

The installation at the Royal Lyceum Theatre opened on Thursday, which would have coincided with the launch of its autumn season.

Theatres remain closed across Scotland and hopes of reopening were dealt a further blow earlier this week as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the sector’s latest indicative date for resuming, October 5, is “unlikely” due to rising coronavirus cases.

Take A Seat installation
Set and costume designer Christine Urquhart with the installation (Jane Barlow/PA)

Up to 100 chairs are being placed in the Royal Lyceum’s foyer for the Take A Seat installation, which will be become animated with sound and light at standard performance times – 7.30pm Monday to Saturday with matinees at 2.30pm on Wednesday and Saturday.

The public can view the artwork – created by theatre, lighting and sound designers and production managers across Scotland – from the outside only, with coronavirus precautions in place.

David Greig, artistic director at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, said: “We miss our audience. I have been visiting the theatre with staff and artistic teams, all in our masks, all making plans for safe reopening, looking to the future, imagining new ways to keep sharing stories.

“Inside our auditorium we have a single ghost light glowing, giving the space an eerie, hollow feeling.

Man looking through window
The installation can only be viewed from outside the closed theatre (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Standing in this theatre, so perfectly designed for a gathered hush of anticipation, the absence of people is palpable.

“Take A Seat is a brilliant initiative designed to capture some of that feeling, to take the negative and turn it into a positive.”

Mr Greig said he is “thrilled” with the installation, adding: “It is a witty, heartfelt postcard in absentia – from theatre makers to theatre lovers – there is still a seat for us, even if we can’t quite take our place on the ones inside the auditorium just yet.”

The collective behind the artwork said: “Opening night is a joyful thing to say, especially as so many have been cancelled in the last few months.

“Although we can’t gather with our audiences and all the artists who have submitted to the project, it marks a shared celebration where the ‘Take A Seat’ collective have completed the installation.”

The installation closes on Saturday October 3.

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