As we launch our new season, let our Executive Producer, Jimmy Fay, and Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, welcome you. Scroll down to watch our Mid-Year Review video to find out what we've been up to...
"We, at the Lyric, are delighted to be presenting you with such a packed and wide-ranging season of diverse work. Our focus this season is on new work and new writers for our stages. It is so important to celebrate and promote our home-grown talent and the best theatrical platform these remarkable writers can have is from the Lyric stages.
All classic work started as a new play. Marie Jones’ West End and Broadway conquering Stones in his Pockets was once a new play, written in her kitchen back in the 1990s and coming home, courtesy of Barn Theatre, to play on our Main Stage almost 25 years after the original play opened in this theatre. Owen McCafferty, Christina Reid, Martin Lynch, Stewart Parker all had plays that spoke to the moment and went on to be classics. Lisa McGee needed someone to take a chance on Derry Girls. We are all the better for it.
I think staging “new writing” is the most exciting pursuit in theatre. Forging new work in a rehearsal room, making creative decisions between the writer, director, actor, designers, stage-management, and tech on something that has never existed before can create magic and become incredible shows. That process isn’t quick; it can take years and years for words on a page to make it to that moment. But it’s usually worth the wait. An audience discovering a new work for the first time can be perhaps the most electrifying moment in a theatre’s history.
This year we have already produced Amanda Verlaque’s gut wrenching new play This Sh*t Happens All the Time! We followed this with our Abbey co-production of Brian Friel’s seminal Translations which was written in 1980, untested when it first performed at the Guildhall, Derry and now heralded as an Irish classic.
Clare McMahon has written a heart-warming and fun play about friendships, time passing and how the longing of adventure never leaves us, The Gap Year. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”. We are delighted to have been part of the development of this play, from its original inception through Fishamble’s Play for Ireland 2019, through the Lyric’s New Playwrights Programme and produced for the Lyric’s ‘Listen at the Lyric’ audio series in 2020. Conor Mitchell continues to excite all our dramatic senses with his total theatre approach and brand-new political epic Propaganda: a new Musical, a Lyric Theatre production commissioned back in 2015 and coming to fruition 7 years later. This production promises to be fearless, probing and incredibly exhilarating. Paul McVeigh’s Big Man is an evocative new play that explores two men in pursuit of love.
Christmas promises a new musical by the hugely gifted Paul Boyd in the shape of The Snow Queen, Grimes and McKee offer a fantastic evening of comedy and bedlam and the irresistibly risqué Pigeon and Plum offer another dance of burlesque cabaret.
There are so many wonderful new plays among our visiting shows too from Michael Cameron’s hugely engaging historical epic Carson and the Lady, David Ireland’s terrifying Yes, So I said Yes, Gina Donnelly and Seon Simpson envelope pushing Two Fingers Up, Tony Macaulay's second memoir Breadboy with music by Duke Special, Richard Clement’s family history play Dead Mule Paul Currie’s probing Chorus of Ghosts and Ciara Elizabeth Smyth’s darkly comic Lie Low.
There is much to enjoy and go on an adventure with at the Lyric this year.
Thank you, our audience, so much for your ongoing and incredible support of your local producing playhouse, the Lyric Theatre. This new season is for you."
"As Northern Ireland’s leading producing theatre and home to so many of the most outstanding and memorable productions to come out of Belfast over the decades, there is a thrilling sense of anticipation when the Lyric Theatre puts its faith in new talent. Clare McMahon’s ‘The Gap Year’ is a product of Fishamble’s Play for Ireland and the Lyric’s own 2019 New Playwrights writing development programme, a programme which is supporting the emergence of a promising new generation of writers exploring contemporary issues. Following successful audio performances at the 2020 New York Origin 1st Irish Festival and featuring on the ‘Listen at the Lyric’ audio series, audiences will now finally have the opportunity to see the fully-staged realisation of McMahon’s paean to the power of older women’s friendships, and ‘discover’ in Clare McMahon one of theatre’s rising stars.
She is in excellent company. In the season ahead we can also look forward to ‘Big Man’, the latest play from Paul McVeigh, playwright and author of the acclaimed novel, ‘The Good Son’, as well as the new musical adventure from multi-award winning Paul Boyd, ‘The Snow Queen’. One certain highlight will be the much-anticipated Lyric premiere of ‘Propaganda’ by Ivor Novello-nominated Conor Mitchell (‘Abomination’; ‘MASS’), one of the most original and exciting composers to emerge from Northern Ireland, or anywhere.
The Arts Council, as principal funder, is proud to support the Lyric Theatre as it continues to innovate, bringing exceptional home-grown talent to local and international attention and providing Northern Ireland audiences with unforgettable, world-class, theatre experiences."