For the past 6 months I have been working in Communications at The Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. I was lucky to get this position as my university placement for this semester because I love it so much. Getting a feel for marketing and PR roles for a theatre has reassured me that this is definitely the kind of job I want to do for the rest of my life. Working for theatre is special because it becomes so much more than a job, everyone is united by a mutual love and passion for theatre which makes you care about it so much more than your regular 9-5. The Lyceum is even more special because it’s a producing theatre which means that they make all their shows and so the company rehearses the actors, makes the sets and costumes and markets the shows all themselves. This gives you so much respect for each production as you’ve seen it from the first script read through to closing night, rather than just encountering a finished product on tour in a receiving theatre.
It’s a special wee building, small enough to feel intimate but grand enough to feel fancy. I think of all type of architecture theatres are the most amazing things to look at, partly because they’re so ornate and plush but also because the experiences shared within them create a magical atmosphere, and The Lyceum is literally one of the most beautiful theatres there is.
Since January I’ve had the pleasure of working on 5 gorgeous main stage shows as well as a bunch of Lyceum Youth Theatre and Development events, it’s been such an adventure. I started with an adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ The Lover which was stunning and easing myself in with a dance play felt right! Still loving the playlist for that, which you can find here. Then things got farcey with The Belle’s Stratagem an Edinburgh based adaptation of Hannah Cowley’s riposte to The Beaux Stratagem, it was silly and colourful and a whole lot of fun! Next was a revival of the EIF 2017 hit Rhinoceros, Zinnie Harris’ adaptation of the Ionesco classic which surreally considered the idea of fascism which was probably my favourite show to watch because it was so bizarre but moving. The next show was Strindberg’s Creditors which is about the psychological manipulation of a marriage, sounds fun huh? But it was super cool using some nifty stage and screen tricks to give you a peek inside a room you shouldn’t be privy to. Finally we had our community project The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other which was a huge production letting audiences people watch almost 100 local participants playing over 450 characters from the prosaic to the mythical which was so cool to see. I got to spend a lot of time with The Hour cast getting to know them and working on their marketing campaign which was mostly through social media. I also got to watch opening night from the wings and flies of the theatre backstage to get some photographs and it was amazing to see the scale of the piece with hundreds of costumes, props and people making it happen.
I’ve got to experience lots of different things from creating show programmes to briefing designers on posters, planning press nights to sending marketing emails, Direct Mail shots to social media campaigns to website updates, it’s been super educational and useful to practically get to do these things for a real company. During my time here I witnessed the results of a new round of Creative Scotland funding (which was thankfully positive). I was around for the announcement of a brand new musical based on the movie Local Hero which will be at The Lyceum in Spring 2019 before going to The Old Vic in London, I got to read an early stage of the script to help with copy writing and an understanding of what we were marketing. We also launched the new Season 18/19 for The Lyceum which involved working on the season brochure, website and filming a launch video which was a fun adventure that I hadn’t expected to be part of my job.
I got to lead on a few different of my own projects like celebrating Year of the Young Person 2018 with our Youth Theatre company. I worked closely with LYT on their double bill show on young people’s mental health called Mind Your Head and again worked with the Creative Learning department on the print for their Summer on Stage courses.
The Lyceum was also asked to takeover The Stage’s 52 Stages Instagram account which I planned and executed, it was a lot of fun to research all the fun facts about the building and its history, plus it meant that I got an excuse to see some of the rarer cool things in the company. For example, I got to go up to the roof of The Lyceum to visit their beehives when the beekeeper came to feed them. Firstly this was awesome because of the amazing view of Edinburgh Castle you get from the roof but also because bees are pretty cool! Quite a few theatres these days keep bees for sustainable reasons but they can also use the honey after the bees get working and you can adopt a bee or even a hive if you wanted to! Find out more here.
One of the greatest places that exists because of The Lyceum, though, is their set workshop and wardrobe out at Roseburn, a gigantic treasure trove of past production stories and dress up fun! Every member of the production and wardrobe teams at The Lyceum are absolute champs and work so hard to make the most beautiful shows. Through Development patron events and filming I was lucky enough to visit Roseburn quite a few times and it gives such a huge appreciation for them and our stage management teams, they really make The Lyceum unique.
The nicest thing about working at The Lyceum is that it really is a family and everyone you come across is so nice, they made me feel really welcome and that’s made the experience so much more fun. I really hope to stay in touch with the lovely people I’ve become friends with at The Lyceum. Especially I am so grateful for the Communications team who have looked after me and taught me so much since I’ve been here and they’re also a good laugh so I’m super glad that I got to work with them for my placement.
As I mentioned, I got to spend a lot of time working on this video and in almost every shot you can imagine me just behind the camera with my disco biscuit (reflector), I also spend ages captioning it so do put them on to get the full Katie provided watching experience! Nah, but seriously you should watch this because every single show is so interesting and I actually cannot wait to see them all – you can find out more and book tickets at lyceum.org.uk/whats-on