Acclaimed Belfast playwright, Owen McCafferty, has been announced as the new Playwright-in-Residence at the Lyric Theatre.
As Northern Ireland’s only full-time producing theatre, the Lyric appoints a Playwright-in-Residence annually as part of its aim to support new writing. It is one of the best-funded residencies in the UK, supported by a private bursary.
Speaking at an informal reception where the announcement was made at the Lyric today (Tuesday) Owen McCafferty said: “It is an honour and privilege to be the Lyric Theatre’s Playwright-in-Residence. The Lyric under Jimmy Fay is moving into an exciting new artistic era and I’m delighted to be in at the start of that.”
Owen McCafferty has a celebrated catalogue of plays including Shoot The Crow, Mojo Mickybo, Scenes from the Big Picture and most recently for the Lyric Theatre, The Absence of Women. He has won the Meyer-Whitworth, John Whiting and Evening Standard Awards for New Playwriting.
McCafferty’s play Quietly was hailed as a must-see show at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and sold out at the Traverse Theatre during its three week run. It was critically acclaimed by the international media and went on to win three prestigious awards – Best Play at The Writers’ Guild Awards 2013, a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and Best Actor for Patrick O’Kane at the Stage Awards for Acting Excellence. His play Unfaithful has just finished a run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
The Lyric is set to premiere Owen’s latest play Death of a Comedian this February as part of the Northern Soul season (8 Feb – 8 March 2015 on the Danske Bank Stage).
Lyric Executive Producer, Jimmy Fay said he was delighted to make the appointment.
“I am delighted to welcome Owen McCafferty as the Lyric’s new Playwright-in-Residence. We are hugely honoured to have him join the theatre for this coming year. Given the recent news of cuts to the arts budget this is a rare good news story in the arts sector and is one of the best paid residencies in the UK. Owen is one of our finest playwrights. I had the honour of directing the award-winning Quietly so I am delighted to have such a quality playwright of integrity, passion and talent take up this position.”
The reception was attended by a number of local writers, actors and artists including the celebrated actor Patrick O’Kane who starred in Quietly which toured to the Lyric earlier this year.
The Lyric Theatre has a long standing reputation as a facilitator of new and exciting work and new writing has a central role to play in the development of contemporary Northern Irish theatre.
Former Playwright-in-Residence Abbie Spallen from Newry had her first play Pumpgirl produced by the Lyric in 2008 and has a string of awards to her name including the Stewart Parker major award. Belfast writer David Ireland wrote romantic comedy Can’t Forget About You during his Lyric residency which sold out the Naughton Studio in 2013 and was moved to the main Danske Bank Stage last June.
The Lyric Theatre’s autumn season begins on 20 September with Stewart Parker’s masterpiece, Pentecost directed by Jimmy Fay and starring Roisin Gallagher, Judith Roddy, Carol Moore, Paul Mallon and Will Irvine.