Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney will address a sold-out audience at the Lyric Theatre Belfast tonight, Monday 23 April, marking the start of a fortnight's celebration of the new building's first anniversary.
The world-renowned poet unveiled the Threshold stone of the £18.1m building on the banks of the Lagan back in 2009 when he described the rebuilding as “a reminder of the vital artistic achievement in the past and the promise of ongoing creative vigour in the future”.
Seamus Heaney now returns ahead of the Lyric’s May anniversary to deliver a lecture, Speak The Speech, to reflect the personal importance of lines of poetry and prose committed to memory and in the appropriate setting of a theatre called the ‘Lyric’.
Acclaimed Irish actor Stephen Rea takes to the stage the following Monday (30 April) in a special one-off performance, narrating The Third Policeman. Flann O’Brien’s darkly comic masterpiece will be accompanied by a trio of string musicians and Colin Reid on piano, in what promises to be an entertaining evening.
Later that week on 3 May, the eagerly-awaited new comedy-thriller The Civilisation Game opens with a superb cast of new and some more familiar faces (Alan McKee, one half of comedy duo Grimes & McKee and Allie Ford, Give My Head Peace). Written and directed by Tim Loane, creator of the hit Channel 4 series Teachers, this is the first original new play to appear on the Northern Bank Stage and will run throughout the first anniversary month of the new building (3 -26 May). As Northern Ireland’s only full-time producing theatre, this is testament to the Lyric’s commitment to developing new drama and supporting local talent.
Then on Saturday 5 May, Playwright-in-Residence, David Ireland, will present a rehearsed reading of his new play Can’t Forget About You in the Naughton Studio. David has been supported throughout the year by the Lyric to develop the play. He will be joined on Sunday 6 May by six other writers and young directors who have been selected to produce short satirical and comic sketches in the first Lyric Write Night. See www.lyrictheatre.co.uk for more details and to book.
The Lyric has enjoyed a fantastic first year in its new landmark building, winning a string of awards for its design and architecture. The year was topped off by winning a Civic Trust Award in Edinburgh recently, beating an array of global entries. Other awards include the Brick Awards (Supreme Winner Award, Best Public Building and Specialist Brickwork Contractor of the Year) and Irish Concrete Society Awards (Overall Winner Award and Building Category Award).
However, it’s not just the building that has been praised. The opening production on the Northern Bank Stage, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, won two Irish Times Theatre Awards out of an unprecedented six nominations. Conall Morrison won Best Director while Aoife Duffin won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Abigail Williams at the prestigious event in Dublin in February.
Richard Croxford, Lyric’s Artistic Director said it has been a “whirlwind year” for the theatre.
“It’s hard to believe a whole year has flown by – it has been a whirlwind of magnificent and varied drama, events and creative learning at the Lyric,” he said. “We have had amazing artists working with us throughout the last year supported by a fantastic team of staff here at the Lyric and it’s been a pleasure to welcome such wonderful audiences to our beautiful building on the banks of the Lagan.
“We are now looking forward to another exciting year and are delighted to have Tim Loane’s very funny new play The Civilisation Game on stage during our anniversary month.”
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Congratulations to the Lyric on what has been another momentous year for local theatre. The past twelve months have been a landmark time for the Lyric; an exciting phase in the history of this celebrated theatre.”
If you haven’t already visited the Lyric in its new home, there is no better time to come than during the first anniversary celebrations which offer a wide choice of theatre and stimulating events.