Theatre in east Belfast

Home to numerous renowned actors and playwrights

East Belfast lacks a commercial theatre. Rapid population growth in the late nineteenth century, and the strength of evangelical protestant values in the local community, militated against the development of a theatre tradition.

Nonetheless, the area has long been home to a thriving network of amateur dramatic groups and societies, including Knock Drama Group and St Mark’s Players.

Perhaps most notable are the Belvoir Players, founded in 1968 on the new Belvoir estate, but since 2000 based in a new rehearsal studio on the edge of east Belfast.

Recent years have also seen the foundation of a number of community theatre groups and projects, from the Short Strand based Over the Bridge Community Theatre, to Ballybeen Community Theatre on the eastern fringe of the area.

Local venues for performance or rehearsal are scarce, though the Tower Street Theatre in further education premises on Templemore Avenue is a notable resource.

Playwrights with east Belfast roots or connections include St John Ervine, whose play Boyd’s Shop was based on his grandmother’s Albertbridge Road hardware shop, and Stewart Parker, the Sydenham born author of Catchpenny Twist, Spokesong, and Northern Star. Marie Jones's Stones in His Pockets also met with international acclaim.