Lyric gets ready to return to live theatre!

The Lyric Theatre is getting ready to re-open to live audiences from the end of July 2021 with the announcement of two productions on the Lyric’s main stage. 

L-R Philip Crawford (Head of Creative Learning Department at the Lyric Theatre and Director of Dracula), Steven Cooke (Actor in Drama Studio and Dracula), Tara Lynne O’Neill (Rough Girls writer and actor), Sophie McGibbon(Actor in Drama Studio and Dracula), Jimmy Fay(Executive Producer at the Lyric Theatre)

Having had to close the doors to live audiences for sixteen months, the team are delighted to announce details of two Lyric productions: a version of the classic Dracula by Scottish writer Liz Lochhead with actors from the Lyric’s Drama Studio, 27th July – 1st Aug 2021, and a brand new play by Tara Lynne O’Neill, Rough Girls 4th – 25th Sept 2021, telling the story of the first all-female football team set in Belfast at the end of the First World War.

The Lyric, like all other cultural venues in the region, will comply with both the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of all audiences and staff members.  Itwill re-open to the public on 19th July for patrons to enjoy the Café Bar, with the first live theatre performance scheduled to begin on Tuesday 27th July to a socially distanced audience, one-third of the main stage’s normal capacity.

Dracula is a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing questions of identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.  Young actors from the Lyric’s hugely successful Drama Studio programme, which for over a decade has nurtured new talent such as Anthony Boyle, will perform a version of Dracula.  This story has been adapted from the original Bram Stoker classic by former Makar, the Scots equivalent of the Poet Laureate, Liz Lochhead.

Set in Belfast 1917 – 1921 and based on true events, Rough Girls by Tara Lynne O’Neill, is the untold story of Belfast women who stepped onto a pitch in society-shocking shorts and footie boots, a ball at their feet and a point to prove.  Rebels with a ball, who kept kicking their way through the outraged defence of a male-dominated game, they raised thousands of pounds for those returning from war.  This ambitious, large-scale production features an impressive eleven strong female cast with live music creating the heartbeat of the city at the time.  The new production is generously supported by Garfield Weston and Electric Ireland.   Audiences also have the unique opportunity to sit amongst the action, with 24 onstage tickets available each night.  This new play is not to be missed for theatre and football fans alike!

The Lyric Theatre is also delighted to announce Electric Ireland as sponsors for their production of Rough Girls.   Electric Ireland’s campaign Game Changers NI is a partnership with the Irish FA that supports and nurtures the talent and commitment of girls and women in football.  One hundred years on since the formation of the first female football team in Northern Ireland, this partnership makes the connection between the magic and skills of live theatre with the magic and skills of being on the pitch.  It also aims to bring a new sporting audience to theatre and sport to an arts audience.

Jimmy Fay, Executive producer at Lyric Theatre Belfast said:

“I am delighted to announce that our re-opening shows will be our Drama Studio production of Dracula and a brand new Lyric commissioned play, Rough Girls by Tara Lynne O’Neill. Everyone at the Lyric is grateful for the continued support of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and is delighted to welcome Electric Ireland as a sponsor for Rough Girls.  This is all the more important after the last sixteen months and at a time when our core funding is at a stand-still for the seventh successive year.  Without a substantial rethink from funders towards venues like the Lyric which employs hundreds of artists and serves audiences of tens of thousands telling stories from the place and people where we live, then our future is likely to be as perilous as the recent past. Getting back to the electric energy of live performance is crucial for our team at the Lyric as well as for the long-term sustainability of the theatre industry. We are live and we can’t wait to welcome audiences back into the theatre in July even as we continue to provide audiences with access to the productions online.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: 

“I am delighted to see the Lyric open its doors to welcome the public back to enjoy live theatre once again.  There is nothing quite like the direct experience that live theatre brings and I’m sure many people have been waiting for this day to come.  As we slowly and safely emerge from this exceptionally challenging time, we look forward to better days ahead for the arts sector.”

Sponsorship Specialist with Electric Ireland, Anne Smyth, commented:

“Electric Ireland are thrilled to be part of the Lyric Theatre’s 2021 programme and to support the Rough Girls production as part of our wider Game Changers NI campaign which supports all levels of girls and women’s football here in Northern Ireland. Live theatre is just magic and we have all missed it, what better way to return than with an original production about fearless women who want to play sport. We want to bring that story to a new audience, bringing the arts to sports fans and sport to arts lovers.”

Tickets for Dracula and Rough Girls will be on sale on Friday 25 June 2021.  For further details visit  Follow the Lyric on Twitter and Instagram @LyricBelfast and Facebook @LyricTheatreBelfast.

The Lyric Theatre is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funding, Belfast City Council and Garfield Weston Foundation.