29/04/2011

Lyric Makes Its Debut Today

An international architectural competition held almost eight years ago will today come to fruition as Belfast's newly rebuilt Lyric Theatre opens for the doors in time for its first performance.

In 2003, the winners were declared as O'Donnell and Tuomey - taking the lead from 56 entries as the architects to design the new theatre facility.

At almost three times the size of the old theatre, the new building is 54,164 square feet (5,026 square metres) and has three distinct areas.

A gala performance of Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' directed by Conall Morrison will be the first production.

The new theatre cost £18m to re-build, of which £6m came from private donations and sponsorships.

It was constructed on the Lyric's existing site in Stranmillis on the banks of the River Lagan.

The new development includes a 389-seat main auditorium, a new studio, dedicated youth and education space and improved facilities for staff and artists.

The original theatre opened on the Lisburn Road in 1951 and moved to premises on Ridgeway Street about 20 years later, but problems with the building and dated facilities led to a decision to close it.

Now, a festival of events has been organised to welcome the iconic name back into production.
News Image
While opening with The Crucible by Arthur Miller, rehearsals are also be under way for Brendan at the Chelsea, the opening production of the theatre's second main space in the Naughton Studio. Adrian Dunbar returns to the Lyric to direct and play the leading role in the play, which runs in the Naughton Studio, from 21 May to 19 June.

As The Crucible plays out in the main auditorium, with the hellish Salem witchcraft trials as an allegory to McCarthyism in the USA, the rest of the theatre will open up with a series of unique and taster events.

The McGrath Suite, the Spare Room and the theatre's new Café Bar will spring to life with a special opening fortnight festival of events including rehearsed readings, story-telling, music sessions, dance and drama workshops suitable for all ages.

Workshops include Shadow Play, Story Trekkers, prop making, drama workshops, set and lighting design.

Scottish super group Session A9 bring their unique fusion of traditional tunes and sophisticated Celtic class to the Lyric's stage to close the celebratory opening fortnight on 15 May on the Northern Bank-sponsored Stage.

World-class traditional musicians John McSherry, Donogh Hennessy and Mike McGoldrick will open the concert and bring a festival flavour to the stage. And there will be free traditional music sessions in association with An Droichead on 6, 13 and 14 May in the Café Bar.

The Lyric is also to celebrate Northern Ireland's fifth Polish Cultural Festival with a performance from renowned Polish pianist Pawel Kaczmarczyk and his Audiofeeling Band on 5 May and on Sunday 8 May a one-off performance of Poland 3 - Iran 2, a theatre football drama event which affectionately looks back at the memorable game in the 1976 Olympics.

See: Lyric Theatre Stages Opening Festival

(BMcC/GK)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

18 June 2019
Consultation On Newcomer Pupils Opens
The Department of Education is seeking views on the current Supporting Newcomer Pupils policy for students who experience a language barrier while in school. The term 'Newcomer Pupil', which accounts for around 4.
19 February 2018
Northern Ireland To Play Israel At Windsor Park
Northern Ireland are to play against Israel in a friendly international on Tuesday, 11 September. The match will take place at Windsor Park at 7.45pm. The game comes three days after Northern Ireland play Bosnia and Herzegovina in the UEFA Nations League at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
30 January 2018
U2 To Play In Belfast And Dublin
Irish rockers U2 are to play in Belfast and Dublin as part of their European tour. The 'eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE' tour will take place at the SSE Arena in Belfast on 27 October and Dublin's 3Arena on 05 and 06 November. Tickets will go on sale on Friday 02 February. The tour follows the release of the band's 14th studio album Songs of Experience.
19 June 2019
Damage At Antrim Playpark To Cost Hundreds
Police are investigating an incident of criminal damage at a play park in Ballymena which is expected to cost the local council hundreds of pounds to repair. Rubber mats in the play area at Wakehurst Playing Fields were destroyed in the attack.
17 June 2019
Other News In Brief
Police Operation As 'Suspicious Object' Found In Lurgan A police operation is underway at a cemetery in Lurgan after a suspicious object was found. It was discovered at St. Coleman's Cemetery in the town on Monday afternoon, 17 June. It is believed the Army bomb disposal team has been called, but no further details have been released as yet.