Outlander star Sam Heughan writes lockdown love letter to Edinburgh theatre

Sam Heughan previously appeared on stage in several Royal Lyceum productions, including Macbeth.Sam Heughan previously appeared on stage in several Royal Lyceum productions, including Macbeth.
Sam Heughan previously appeared on stage in several Royal Lyceum productions, including Macbeth. | Other 3rd Party
Outlander star Sam Heughan has penned a heartfelt love letter to an Edinburgh theatre he credits with providing the inspiration for his career and describes it as the “beating heart” of the city.

Heughan was a 12-year-old schoolboy in the city when he started attending free preview performances at the Royal Lyceum after his family moved from Dumfries and Galloway.

He later secured work experience in the stage management department, joined the Lyceum’s youth theatre group and worked as an usher.

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Heughan, who has become one of Scotland’s best-known actors since he was cast in Outlander in 2013, also secured roles in several productions, including Macbeth, The Shaughran and Three Sisters.

His love letter to the theatre has been published on its official website as part of a lockdown project which will see some of Scotland’s best-known cultural figures discuss their connections with the venue. Others include authors Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Denise Mina, comic Josie Long and playwrights Jo Clifford and Rona Munro.

In his letter, Heughan states: “Standing in the dark, my back against the exposed brick, my hands by my side, palms against the wall. I’m warmed by your touch, the stone holding your body-heat. I breath in the smell of fresh paint and look out into the dim auditorium. Silence. So quiet - you can hear the ‘tick, tick, tick’ of a bold stage light from the fly floor overhead.

“The ‘sound’ of an audience ‘listening’ sends a shock through my body, like being caressed by a silent lover. You cradle the auditorium in your arms. I am addicted to your embrace. I want you in my life forever and have pursued you ever since.”

Heughan, who studied at the RSAMD in Glasgow, had his first major stage role at the Traverse Theatre in Outlying Islands during the 2002 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He would go on to star in the TV shows River City and Doctors before being cast in Outlander.

His letter to the Lyceum adds: “Thinking of you now, sitting there alone and quiet. I know you’re just waiting. Not just for me but for the throng and mass of voices, wet coats and torn tickets. The bell sounding shrill as the laughter and murmur subsides. Passion and warmth filling your empty space. You’re the heart of Edinburgh, for me, beating.

“I can’t wait to be taken in by your darkness again, as you comfort us in your embrace.”

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