The Lyric Theatre – New Season Programme – Voyage and Discovery
by Cathy Brown
The Lyric Theatre Belfast launched their new season programme on Tuesday evening, celebrating the theme of Voyage and Discovery. Executive Director Jimmy Fay opened proceedings by quoting Marcel Proust, who said that ‘the real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes’.
Many of the protagonists in these plays in the new season are on a quest, discovering either something about themselves or the world they inhabit. The Lyric had a box-office hit a few years ago with Educating Rita, and the work of Willy Russell returns as Tara Lynne O’Neill of Derry Girls takes on the titular role of Shirley Valentine who is escaping her humdrum life and taking off to Greece.
In a co-production with the Dublin Theatre Festival, Christy Mahon is seeking shelter and love in The Playboy of the Western World, which director Oonagh Murphy assured would contain ‘no dirt and no shawls’. Following the triumph of last year’s Alice in Wonderland, Paul Boyd brings a new family musical to the Lyric stage for Christmas, as Peter Pan whisks a young family off to Neverland.
In the same spirit, Lyric stalwarts Grimes and McKee have scripted a hilarious new comedy about been stranded far from home with Driving Home for Christmas and the voyage continues past Ridgeway Street as many of the Lyric shows will go on tour to Edinburgh, Derry, Armagh and Dublin.
The crowd-pleasing shows on the main stage are augmented by a lot of interesting work in the Naughton Studio. The voyage with Blackout continues, entering into a 5th year of the initiative that employs emerging actors and highlights to young people the challenges and choices of modern life.
Meghan Tyler, who is currently playing Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, will present her surreal and ‘kick-ass’ play, Crocodile Fever in association with Edinburgh’s Traverse which came through the Lyric’s highly successful New Playwright’s Programme. The Alternative, by Michael Patrick and Oisín Kearney, which has been chosen as A Play for Ireland, will be produced by Fishamble, in association with several Irish theatres including the Lyric, this autumn.
The Lyric continues to champion new work as their New Playwright’s Showcase returns in November, with readings of six new plays developed through this year’s programme.
The launch also introduced the Lyric’s new mission statement and in their goal to be ‘a playhouse for all’, Head of Marketing and Development Claire Murray announced a series of initiatives to make the venue more accessible, including £12 tickets for all main stage shows and the scrapping of the administration fee on tickets.
The Lyric Theatre has been through a real transformation over the last five years and the journey continues.