We are extremely disappointed by the decision from the NI Executive on Thursday to delay the reopening of theatres. This was despite giving an initial indicative timetable for the reopening of all indoor cultural venues for 24th May, which was later pushed out to 5th July.
We understand the need for caution but it feels like theatres have been singled out. We remain the only industry not to have opened to the public since last March 2020, and we have not been given a reason why theatres still cannot open yet hospitality and cinemas can.
This is the third indicative date that has been delayed, and it not only leaves us as a venue and producing company on a knife edge but an entire industry of workers, whose livelihoods rely on theatres like the Lyric producing work. The impact of the pandemic has shone a light on how far-reaching the arts and entertainment industry is, and the knock-on effect of our continued closure is massive. It not only affects actors, writers and directors – but also technicians, sound engineers, set builders, stage managers – thousands of professionals in the industry.
As the main producing theatre in Northern Ireland which produces all our work in-house, it can often take 6-9 months+ to plan our productions. Based on ongoing dialogue with the Department, we have planned to reopen the theatre to audiences from Tuesday 27th July with a production of Dracula. This will be presented by the Lyric’s Drama Studio. We are planning to do this within the current guidelines, to ensure that we are welcoming the public back to our venue in a way that is safe and enjoyable. Our capacity in the theatre will be limited to 1/3 with social distancing measures in place, all in line with industry guidelines as well as the Public Health authority guidance. In addition, the Lyric is a bright, airy building and we are confident that we can manage the small crowds who have bought tickets to our shows and want to come back to our theatre.
We are strongly appealing to the Executive to ratify the decision to allow theatres to reopen to live audiences when they meet on Monday. This will enable us to welcome back audiences in a safe, socially distanced way, to our production of Dracula, which has been in rehearsals since the start of the year.
We hope to welcome you back soon too.
Executive Producer Jimmy Fay