Lyric Launches Spring Season

The new programme looks at the part Belfast plays in the wider world with bold new productions and international ventures

Belfast's Lyric Theatre announced its new spring season programme and 2017 Writer-In-Residence at an event which involved new music from Duke Special, Ursula Burns, Kyron Burke, and a performance from Conor Mitchell and Abigail McGibbon.

The theme for 2016 was called 'Vivid Faces', where the Lyric examined how events of a hundred years ago shaped Ireland, both north and south, with presentations such as Rosemary Jenkinson’s playful Here Comes The Night and the Abbey’s vivid production of Observe the Sons of Ulster which the Lyric presented in a province-wide tour.

This year the Lyric aims to continue to be more outward, especially in tours across the whole island of the highly acclaimed production of Educating Rita and to Broadway with Cahoots on their production of Nivelli’s War, and to foster the best of new writing on the main stages with Marie Jones’ sparkling new comedy drama Sinners

Nivelli’s War will bring the European post-war refugee experience to both Belfast and Broadway, the international acclaimed and Tony Award-winning Red on the American painter of Russian-Jewish descent Mark Rothko will be a chance for Belfast audiences to experience the very best new writing in modern drama.

Sinners meanwhile presents a searing satire on narcissism and fundamentalist religion, The Heresy of Love looks at feminism and speaking truth to power in Latin America, whilst the new Writer-In-Residence shows the Lyric’s commitment, along with that of their sponsor, towards putting the theatre artist at the very centre of everything they do at the Lyric.

Patrick O'Kane stars Red1

In this, so called, post-truth democracy and in a climate of increasingly polarized political and religious beliefs, the Lyric season will look at Belfast in a European and global context – including the importance of remembering shared underlying facts, humanity during war, and how the arts and the artist contributes greatly to the way we understand and live in this world. The programme will explore, provoke and inspire new connections and question our own responsibilities.

With casts and crews from their forthcoming season in attendance, Executive Producer Jimmy Fay commented: 'The Lyric is extremely proud to be able to draw on the unusually rich quality of our artists and I am proud to say that the Lyric is a home to some of our finest practitioners in playwriting, directing, design and acting.

'Our programme of work is distinctive, it resonates and engages with Belfast’s people, but we also showcase our artistic excellence nationally and internationally. The Lyric and her artists, offer a fresh, positive and energising narrative.'

Alongside its new productions, the Lyric launched its commitment to bring exciting new work to the stage. Its 2017 Writer-In-Residence will be Belfast’s Rosemary Jenkinson, who is among the shining stars of modern playwrights in Ireland. Her ability to combine harsh reality and humour to produce memorable theatre is exceptional and it is no accident that her work has been performed in London, Dublin, Edinburgh, New York and Washington D.C. 

A new six month Playwrights Programme of development support has also been established to encourage and inspire playwrights – be they established, emerging, or entirely new to the theatre. This will culminate in showcase performances in the Naughton Studio in October 2017.

2 Executive Producer, Jimmy Fay with the new Season Brochure

The Lyric’s Principal Funder is the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and their Director of Arts Development, Noirin McKinney, commented at the launch: 'The Arts Council congratulates the Lyric on another terrific new season. We are particularly delighted to support the New Playwrights Programme through the Sustainability Award. This important initiative will significantly increase the opportunities available for emerging playwrights to develop their skills and talent, producing work that otherwise wouldn’t exist. There are few experiences that come close to live theatre and that experience starts with good writing. The New Playwrights Programme is a vital step forward in the development of new writers and new writing for the stage, from Northern Ireland.'

Since its extensive capital development in 2011, the new Lyric is almost three times the size of its predecessor and has attracted audiences of over half a million and played to a further 60,000 on tour. As Northern Ireland’s only full-time producing theatre, it continues to be the largest employer of local theatre practitioners, providing over 500 weeks of employment for actors as well as contracts for freelance directions and designers.

Executive Producer Jimmy Fay has attracted critical acclaim and toured successfully to New York, Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Letterkenny, Cork, Perth and Wales. Productions have included actors such as Sir Kenneth Branagh, Simon Callow, Rob Brydon, Adrian Dunbar and Conleth Hill, and new co-productions with the Young Vic, the Dublin Theatre Festival, and the Abbey and Soho Theatre. 

The full Spring Season includes 27 productions and full details can be found at www.lyricbelfast.co.uk. Box Office 028 9038 1081.