Theatre in Belfast - A Personal Reflection
'Belfast is rightly proud of its theatrical history.'
This article appears as part of the Creative Belfast Showcase which took place at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, during February 2006.
Belfast has a thriving and dynamic theatre sector. A large number of successful theatre companies are based in the city. Tinderbox Theatre Company are probably Belfast’s longest running production company with Prime Cut, Kabosh, Bruiser and Ransom amongst the other award - winning companies. Cahoots NI and Replay create innovative theatre for children and young people.
Many of Belfast’s theatre companies tour throughout Northern Ireland, often appearing at the annual Edinburgh International Festival and touring all over the UK, Ireland, Europe and beyond. Festivals have become part of the cultural landscape in Belfast, with theatre making a huge contribution. The city now plays host to numerous festivals throughout the year, most notably the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast Festival at Queen’s, the West Belfast Festival, the Young at Art Festival and the most recent addition, The Out To Lunch micro arts festival in January.
Belfast also has a thriving amateur / voluntary and community theatre sector, with performances, workshops and projects taking place across the city in a wide variety of settings.
Belfast is home to a number of excellent venues including the Grand Opera House, where local people can experience a range of shows from West End Musicals to world class ballet, opera, drama, children’s performances and concerts. Designed by leading theatre architect, Frank Matcham, and opened in 1895, the Grand Opera House’s lavish interior is a unique and glorious combination of the work of Victorian architects, painters and craftsmen. The theatre is currently undergoing a major development and extension programme christened Act II, which will be completed in October 2006.
The Lyric Theatre is Northern Ireland’s producing theatre. The venue celebrates new writing and has played host to some of Ireland's leading playwrights including Marie Jones and Damian Gorman. Its patron is Liam Neeson, and Enniskillen born actor Adrian Dunbar is a vocal supporter. Last year the theatre was awarded over £6 million towards a new development project which is due to start in 2007.
The Old Museum Arts Centre is housed in a Grade 1 listed building in Belfast's city centre, and is widely recognised as Northern Ireland's leading contemporary arts centre. OMAC programmes small-scale theatre, dance and visual art from local, national and international companies and artists. OMAC is currently involved is developing a custom-built, fully accessible venue in the Cathedral Quarter area of the city.
Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich is situated on the Falls Road and is at the centre of Belfast's Irish language community. The venue plays host to a variety of Irish language as well as English language productions and concerts. The Waterfront Hall is highly-praised for its acoustics, which make the main auditorium perfect for world class shows and the NTL Studio perfect for enjoying intimate evenings of live theatre.
Belfast is rightly proud of its theatrical history and, given the immense amount of talent that the city continues to produce, its future looks very bright indeed.
Grand Opera House and Northern Ireland Theatre Association