The power of the arts to inspire, educate, and transform lives cannot be underestimated. The AIB Community Fund 2022 supported the Lyric Theatre outreach work to young people during our production of Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare. This collaboration aimed to provide valuable training, educational outreach, and performance opportunities for aspiring actors while also fostering community engagement and addressing mental health concerns. By investing in the potential of young artists and reaching out to schools in underprivileged areas, this partnership made a significant impact on the young people in schools while also providing young performers with professional facilitation and performance experience.
As part of this partnership, the AIB Community Fund generously funded four young members of the Lyric Drama Studio to participate in the production of Romeo & Juliet. These talented individuals underwent rigorous training facilitated by Michael Corbidge, from the Royal Shakespeare Company. This opportunity provided them with an invaluable chance to enhance their performance skills and gain a deeper understanding of the craft of theatre.
The four talented Drama Studio members had the unique opportunity to join the cast of Romeo & Juliet. This immersive experience not only enriched their understanding of the production but also enhanced their delivery of the workshops. Working alongside seasoned professional actors, the young artists received mentorship and guidance, offering them an unparalleled chance to refine their skills and gain practical knowledge of the industry. Adhering to Equity guidelines, they had the opportunity to play small roles in the final production, showcasing their talent on a professional stage.
Philip Crawford, the Head of Creative Learning at the Lyric Theatre and Director of Romeo & Juliet, expressed his gratitude for the support received from the AIB Community Fund: "We are very grateful to AIB for their support through the AIB Community Fund. The Lyric Theatre's mission of nurturing and inspiring young individuals lies at the heart of what we do, and this funding has allowed us to empower young people through the medium of theatre. By offering free workshops to over 1000 pupils who would otherwise have lacked access to such resources, we were able to make a meaningful impact. Furthermore, we had the privilege of supporting four talented young artists in making their professional debut on the prestigious Lyric stage."
Recognising the importance of mental health, the Lyric Theatre sought support from local mental health charities, namely the Zachary Geddis 'Break The Silence' Trust and Lighthouse. Together, they provided feedback on workshops for the young participants that incorporated facilitation techniques and promoted mental well-being.
One of the most impactful aspects of this collaboration was the education outreach program accompanying the production. Through the Lyric Drama Studio, the AIB Community Fund aimed to bring the magic of theatre to secondary schools across greater Belfast, specifically targeting areas of multiple deprivation. By expanding access to drama and theatre experiences, the partnership aimed to inspire creativity, critical thinking, and empathy among young students.
The partnership between the AIB Community Fund and The Lyric Theatre, Belfast, in support of young people was a testament to the transformative power of the arts. By investing in the training and development of aspiring actors, reaching out to schools in underprivileged areas, and addressing mental health concerns, this collaboration made a profound impact on the local community. Through the production of Romeo & Juliet, the young participants not only enhanced their performance skills but also inspired a new generation of theatre enthusiasts. This partnership will be remembered as a shining example of how art, education, and community engagement can come together to empower young people and shape a brighter future.