New Executive Producer brings ‘Northern Soul’ to the Lyric Theatre Belfast

The Lyric’s new Executive Producer, the acclaimed director Jimmy Fay, unveiled his first season at the Belfast theatre today with a programme of compelling drama and new comedy.

The award-winning director, who was literary director of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, launched the new season under the banner ‘Northern Soul’ which features exciting new writing, classic drama and some sparkling Christmas comedy.

“Each of these plays share something Northern in their locations and each of them deal in some powerful way with the soul; in my view the act of being truly alive,” Jimmy said.

Fay takes up the reins as David Ireland’s comedy Can’t Forget About You opens on the Danske Bank Stage for a four-week run until July 5. This hilarious romantic comedy, directed by Conleth Hill, was moved to the main stage after a sell-out run in the Naughton Studio last summer.

The new season kicks off in August with the intense drama, Punk Rock, about a dysfunctional group of students dealing with the pressures of adolescence and education.

The pressures of exams combined with sleep deprivation, sexual frustration and troubling thoughts lead to a shocking climax in this acclaimed play by prolific writer, Simon Stephens.

Punk Rock, directed by Selina Cartmell, runs on the Danske Bank Stage from Sunday 10 August until Saturday 6 September 2014. Tickets priced £15 – £24.50.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Ulster Workers’ Strike which provides the perfect context for Stewart Parker’s final masterpiece, Pentecost which will be directed by Jimmy Fay. Starring Roisin Gallagher, Carol Moore and Judith Roddy, it tells the story of the inter-twined lives of a group of people thrown together during the Ulster Workers’ Strike.

Marian has sold her business and takes up tenancy in a repossessed Belfast working-class parlour-house. Her hopes for a safe haven and fresh start are soon shattered when she finds herself bunkered down during the strike with her estranged husband Lenny, his muesli-chomping friend Peter, and her best friend Ruth who is fleeing from an abusive husband.

They work out their relationships to each other, the world outside and to the past while trying to envisage a future beyond bombs and reprisals. Only Marian is aware of a fifth presence – the ghost of Lily Matthews, the previous occupant.

Pentecost runs on the Danske Bank Stage from Saturday 20 September to Saturday 18 October.

This Christmas the Lyric brings you two fantastic Premieres – a new Marie Jones’ play and a new production of the classic tale, Sleeping Beauty by Derek O’Connor for all the family.

From the Olivier Award winning author that brought you Stones in His Pockets and the acclaimed team that brought you Night in November – Xmas Eve Can Kill You and Women on the Verge of HRT, comes Mistletoe & Crime.

Two WPC’s try to keep order amongst the mayhem that is a Belfast Christmas – it doesn’t help that it’s the last night on the beat for one of them – the first night for the other – and they can’t find their land rover. Directed by the irrepressible Dan Gordon it would be a crime to miss it!

Mistletoe & Crime runs on the Dankse Bank Stage from Saturday 22 November to Sunday 11 January.

Talented choreographer and director, Deborah Maguire will conjure up the magic of Christmas for children and adults alike with a new musical adaptation of the enchanted tale of Sleeping Beauty. The story of a beautiful princess condemned to sleep forever by a wicked witch who pricks her thumb has been adapted by award-winning writer, Derek O’Connor, who won a Bafta for CBBC programme Roy.

Sleeping Beauty runs on the Danske Bank Stage from Friday 5 December until Sunday 4 January. Tickets range from just £12.50 – £18 with Family ticket & Schools prices available.

Looking ahead to next Spring, the Lyric Theatre in association with the Abbey Theatre and Soho Theatre, London proudly presents the World Premiere of Owen McCafferty’s play The Death of A Comedian.

From the award-winning writer who brought us Quietly and Scenes from the Big Picture, comes this brand new tale of the trials of a comedian, Steve Johnston who has to wrestle with compromises. Set across four separate stand-up gigs, this Faustian-style drama follows the choices of a comedian who could gain everything he wants, but may lose everything he has.

The Death of A Comedian runs on the Danske Bank Stage from Sunday 8 February to Sunday 8 March.

Jimmy Fay, Lyric Executive Producer said he is “very pleased to join and lead the dedicated and passionate team” at the theatre.

“Our aim is to present entertaining, inquisitive, adventurous and vibrant theatre, theatre that reflects and tells stories about our community and looks out into the world and towards the future with confidence and passion,” he said. “We hope you find the season we present today meets that vision and it is one which we aim to build on.”

He added: “There has been much in the press lately about theatre being elitist whether as a result of the programming or the pricing. From Punk Rock about teenage angst to a brand new play by Belfast’s favourite playwright, Marie Jones, I think the Lyric has something for everyone. We also have very affordable theatre with £10 tickets for students and the unemployed as well as concession rates for pensioners. Our fantastic Community Supersaver scheme offers unbeatable value tickets at just £5 for any community group who registers with the scheme. You can find out more on our website about this successful scheme which has benefited a wide range of community groups across Northern Ireland – many of whom would not normally attend theatre.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:  “As principal funder of the state-of-the-art Lyric Theatre, the Arts Council is excited about the diversity of drama that we can expect as part of this newly launched season programme. Ranging from Stewart Parker’s modern classic ‘Pentecost’ to Marie Jones’s new festive offering ‘Mistletoe & Crime’, the Lyric continues to play a key cultural role in our society by offering some of the best theatre Northern Ireland has to offer.”

Danske Bank UK CEO, Gerry Mallon welcomed the new season: “The announcement of the new season at the Lyric Theatre is always an exciting time and new Executive Producer Jimmy Fay certainly does not disappoint with his upcoming ‘Northern Soul’ programme. The Danske Bank Stage will host many local talented actors this season with comedy, romance and Christmas cheer. We look forward to another thrilling season ahead.”

For more information on the Lyric’s season or to book, go to or contact the Box Office on (028) 9038 1081.