Lyric Belfast and BBC team up to produce new theatre commissions

Published: 30 May 2020
Reporter: Michael Quinn

Director Conleth Hill and writer Lisa McGee

Playwrights David Ireland, Owen McCafferty and Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee are among six writers to feature in Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama, a co-production between Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, BBC Arts and BBC Northern Ireland. Their work will be seen alongside new pieces by Abbie Spallen, Stacey Gregg and Sarah Gordon, all exploring “the positive and negative aspects of social isolation and lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The short dramas will feature leading Northern Irish actors including Olivier Award-winner Anthony Boyle (Scorpius in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Coronation Street star Kerri Quinn and Stella McCusker.

Directors lined up to helm the projects include the Lyric’s executive producer Jimmy Fay, Prime Cut Productions’ Emma Jordan, Harry Potter stage director Des Kennedy and two-times Olivier Award-winner and Tony Award-nominee, Conleth Hill.

Explaining the project, produced as part of the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine initiative, BBC Arts commissioning executive Stephen James-Yeoman said, “for the time being, the theatre curtains remain down but the talent, whether on stage or behind the scenes, are no less creative”.

He added, “unsurprisingly, one of the things that has figuratively brought us together while being apart is the world-class theatre brought to our living rooms. That is why BBC Arts is working with a host of theatre companies in all four nations of the UK, commissioning new and thought-provoking work to keep audiences thinking”

Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s director of arts development Nóirín McKinney said, “this initiative is supported by Arts Council National Lottery funding and offers writers, actors, producers and directors a lifeline in difficult times when all other work has been cancelled. Splendid Isolation is a great example of how the arts can respond and reflect our everyday experiences through marvellous storytelling, and through the collaboration of talented artists who are, after all, the life blood of our creative industries.”

Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama will broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland at 10PM on Thursday 25 June. It will also be screened on BBC Four and available on BBC iPlayer.