Evolution of the Lyric Players Theatre, Belfast Fighting the Waves

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This book traces the evolution of Northern Ireland’s principal regional theatre, The Lyric Players, describing its transition from private concern to public institution, highlighting the difficulties attendant with this change in status. It appraises the theatre’s public role in a divided community, attempts to explain the theatre’s artistic policies and output by anatomizing the range of social, artistic and cultural factors that worked upon the theatre as it sought to establish itself as both artistic force and service provider.


“. . . there is much of value in this first book-length study of Belfast’s ‘Theater by the River.’ Connolly gathered information from a great variety of sources, including interviews with several of the key participants in the theater’s development. Particularly useful are his historical overview of Belfast theater and his discussions of the playwrights who were fostered by the Lyric. Useful in collections supporting the study of 20th-century Irish theater at the upper-division graduate level and above.” - CHOICE

“Serious theatre researchers have their work cut out to disentangle this lot, a thicket that becomes more impenetrable when the theatre has been created within living memory with many of the combatants and their coat-holders alive and too willing to kick. It is to the credit of this writer and secures the value of this book that somehow a picture has been traced, detailed and assessed in a manner which attests to meticulous research objectively weighed and accounted for without losing the essentially human story at the heart of the evolution of the Lyric. . . . It is a sacrificial pattern of mythic familiarity and is evident in the story of Mary O'Malley and the Lyric Theatre – a story which this book offers us with clarity, commitment and distance.” – Lynda Henderson “This is a meticulously-researched and illuminating study of one of Ireland’s main regional theatres. It describes the vision and enterprise of its establishment, and unravels the inner dynamics, politics, and dissensions of its evolution. It is a major chapter of the theatre history of Ireland and is, at once, both tribute to and appraisal of the Lyric’s founders and those who guided it over the years.” – Robert Welch

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. ‘Little to Congratulate Ourselves on’?: Theatre in Belfast
2. ‘Remote, Spiritual and Ideal’: The Origin of the Lyric Players Theatre
3. Dreams and Realities: The Political Context
4. ‘The Centre Cannot Hold’: The Evolution of the Artistic Policy
5. The Brute Fact of a Theatre: The Board of Trustees
6. Insolence and Relevance: The Lyric’s Writers (Part One)
7. Interpreting the Local Scene: The Lyric’s Writers (Part Two)
Appendices: Amateur Productions 1951-1968; Professional Productions 1968-1997; Artistic Directors, Literary Advisors, Honorary Directors and Trustees
Notes; Bibliography; Index

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