It is with a heavy heart that we write this tribute to our friend and colleague, Julie Lewis, who passed away last Saturday evening.
Julie was a hugely talented and intelligent actor and writer who appeared in a number of Lyric Theatre productions over the years, having made her début on the Lyric stage as a young girl in Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat. Julie also appeared in Iph, Be My Baby, The Miser, The Crucible, Three Sisters, The Ladykillers and most recently in A Streetcar Named Desire. Julie was not only at turns graceful and hilariously funny, but wholly committed to her art. Last October, Julie was one of the fifty artists who appeared on the Main Stage to celebrate 50 years of the Lyric on Ridgeway Street, performing in Patrick Calvin’s We Do It For Love and Christina Reid’s Tea in a China Cup.
Julie trained as an actor at Royal Welsh College and worked with most theatre companies in Northern Ireland, including Kabosh, Bruiser, Replay, Tinderbox and Prime Cut, giving a searing performance alongside Matthew Forsythe in their production of Mydidae at the MAC. She was also a committed supporter of other artists’ work throughout the arts community. With fellow actors Rosie McClelland, Katie Richardson and PJ O’Reilly, she created work under production company ‘Red Lemon’. Julie also starred in BBC1’s Soft Border Patrol and BBC Radio 4 Two People Shorten the Road by Rosemary Jenkinson.
As well as being a sharp and comedic actor, Julie was also a fantastic writer and an exciting emerging director. She made an invaluable contribution to the development of new work at the Lyric and was a true asset to any workshop or reading. Not only would she bring her considerable talents as an actor into the room, but her insight, rigour, and sensitivity in providing feedback helped so many writers. Her personality – warm, energetic, witty – made any room a pleasure to be in. In June, Julie was involved in a reading of one of the projects being developed through the Lyric’s New Playwrights Programme; during last year’s programme, she and Tara Lynne O’Neill read in the first Lyric workshop of Crocodile Fever, as well as joining the squad for the development of our commission Rough Girls.
Julie recently directed Me, Mum and Dusty at the Grand Opera House and recently assistant directed with Conor Mitchell on Belfast Ensemble’s Bash at the Lyric. Julie was Assistant Director to Patrick J O’Reilly on Shirley Valentine starring her close friend Tara Lynne and was a major part of the creative team.
Her untimely death is a cruel blow for the theatre, and the many, many friends she made here. She made an indelible impression on so many. She will be hugely missed by us all.