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.

26 April 2021
Vaccination Programme Opens For 35-39 Year Olds
The vaccination programme in Northern Ireland has opened for people aged 35 to 39 from today, 26 April. From 8am, people in that age group are able to book their appointment at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy.
20 April 2021
Rise In NI Unemployment
There has been 5,780 redundancies recorded in the past 12 months with 250 confirmed in March alone, according to the latest labour market statistics. The figures from he Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) confirm that this is the highest annual figure recorded since 2001.
13 January 2020
NI Playwrights Set For New York Festival
A host of local talent are set to showcase their work on the international stage at a theatre festival in New York this month.
11 March 2020
Belfast Learning Festival To Focus On Mental Health
The tools needed for positive mental health and wellbeing will be the focus of this year's Belfast Festival of Learning.
06 March 2020
Belfast Children's Festival Gets Underway
More than 100 events are to take place throughout the weekend exploring the themes of home, place and belonging at the Belfast Children's Festival. Thousands of visitors are expected to enjoy a series of local and international performances across 13 different destinations, with the MAC serving as a hub for the occasion.