New Speak: Reimagined
Lyric Theatre broadcasts, April 26 – May 24, live on You Tube
By Conor O’Neill
No whistling backstage, no peacock feathers, green costumes will bring misery, never utter the name Mac… The Scottish Play, ‘break a leg’, good luc… theatre is renowned for its superstitions. To my mind the most enduring and romantic of all is the ‘ghost light’.
Apparently the sole bulb while not only keeping the theatrical spirit alive had more practical measures. Way before health and safety was the curse of modern life, high-vis and hard hats had to be worn anywhere higher than a snake’s elbow and ambulance chasing lawyers were the norm, people did have their heads screwed on.
Sandbags as counter weights, heavy props, trapdoors and all the other machinations that make for a good show can also lead to an early grave – exit stage left and no standing ovation.
‘There is a light that never goes out’, Christ, I hate quoting Morrisey but heaven knows we’re miserable now. While the 40 watt bulb burns, Belfast’s Lyric Theatre has made an exciting announcement that promises to help aide theatre lovers through this time of closed doors and self-isolation.
New Speak: Re-imagined is an initiative inspired by the Lyric’s co-production of Orwell’s haunting and as relevant as they day it was penned – if not more? – 1984. The production, which was to be run with Bruiser Theatre Company but has been postponed due to COVID-19.
But fear not theatre lovers, necessity is the mother of invention and thankfully technology is playing its part in keeping us all semi-sane. While this little article focuses on the Lyric’s initiative, its also a massive ‘thank you letter’ to all the writers, poets, songsmiths and everything our Emerald Isle is renowned for and their efforts to keep some sort of normality and entertainment during these troublesome times.
I for one have spent many a happy hour listening and watching creators, both professional and talented amateurs, singing and reciting their works of love.
Back to the Lyric: from April 26 – May 24, the theatre will be running five YouTube performances over four weeks. The artists involved are as follows: The Amadan Ensemble; Dominic Montague; Katie Richardson; Lata Sharma and Zara Jangji.
The press announcement states, ‘The five artists will be working on their own art forms and reacting to the current political, economic and social climate of today’ and goes on to say, ‘The artists have been creating short performance pieces for a number of months based on the quote from 1984 “I can see what the future will look like.” But much of their work has been revisited to reflect the current coronavirus pandemic landscape; reflecting on how we got here, and imagining where we go next’.
The Lyric’s Executive Producer, Jimmy Fay said, “As a response to the ongoing crisis , we’re moving our artist-led initiative New Speak: Re-imagined online and into your homes, with compelling , invigorating new work, which have been skilfully adjusted to reflect the current situation. Our stages may be dark but our mission to create, entertain, inspire as well as support and platform new work continues as we adapt to engage with our audience during these challenging times.”
The initiative is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding and Belfast City Council.
The Arts Council Drama and Dance officer, Caoileann Curry-Thompson added: “Even in these troubling days of closed theatre doors, I am delighted and so proud that we can still look to our leading theatre, the Lyric, to create and present new and exciting drama. In these times we need the solace of the performing arts more than ever.
“With great innovation and flexibility, the Lyric has risen to the challenges of these unprecedented times. The fresh voices that have engaged for New Speak will doubtless surprise, comfort, provoke, delight us and make us reassess our current world and our place in it. This time that we’re in make the reflections of our artists all the kore important. Thank you all for making this happen.”
What must be remembered and considered is the stark fact that most, if not all, of our writers, directors, producers, actors and those behind the scenes are essentially self-employed. Just like our local tradesmen and women they’re feeling the pinch financially and so the Lyric is asking those who sign up, view and enjoy the shows to make a donation. We’d be paying our money anyway, so dig deep and gave as much as you can.
*Note to parents: due to the nature of the material and content addressed, an age recommendation of 14+ is advised.
So there it is, a month of theatre is on its way.
For further details visit http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk The productions can be viewed on the Lyric’s YouTube channel. You can also follow the theatre on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @LyricBelfast #LyricEntertain
Enjoy the shows, give graciously, and above all, keep safe.