Rehearsals for the international premiere of Sadie, a searing new play from former Artist-in-Residence, David Ireland has started at Lyric Theatre.  Directed by Conleth Hill with award-winning actress Abigail McGibbon in the title role, Sadie is a Lyric Theatre Production in association with, and originally commissioned by, Field Day Theatre Company. Rehearsals will take place throughout January, in accordance with the NI Executive COVID guidance and safety protocols. It will be filmed on the Lyric Main Stage in February, and broadcast on BBC Four and BBC NI as part of BBC Arts ‘Lights up’ British Theatre for new Culture in Quarantine Season, transmission date to be confirmed.

Sadie is a dark drama set in Northern Ireland in 2020. In contravention of lockdown rules sharp-witted cleaner Sadie (Abigail McGibbon) develops an intense, dysfunctional relationship with a much younger man – triggering a psychological showdown with the remnant demons of her past.  A one night stand with the new office temp Joao (Santino Smith) develops into something much more serious when Joao reveals he’s in love with her. Sadie is flattered but with a long history of terrible relationships, she wonders if it’s even possible for her to be happy in love. To answer that question, she calls upon her long dead uncle Red (Patrick Jenkins), her abusive ex-husband Clark (David Pearse) and her new therapist Mairead (Andrea Irvine). Together they help her face some horrifying truths she’s kept hidden for too long.

Whilst the doors have remained closed since March, the Lyric has continued to innovate and produce work which has helped keep the spirit of the Lyric alive.  With the pandemic having a huge impact on theatres capacity to rehearse and perform, finding innovative ways to continue to work has proved challenging. Lyric Theatre has embraced the challenges throughout and has consistently kept a connection with audiences through new works and accessible online content.  During this time they produced the first theatre-to-TV production, Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama, which created seven short films for BBC broadcast during the summer and were recently nominated for Best Drama at the Royal Television Society Awards.  Also, the popular Listen at The Lyric audio series has provided a wonderful way for audiences to get a first-listen to brand new work at home.

The Lyric production team is working diligently behind the scenes to produce their usual high quality of work whilst maintaining the highest Covid control measures. With this in mind, the current production Sadie includes a rehearsal process which features actors and creatives in a rehearsal bubble, maintaining social distancing whenever possible.  To comply with quarantine rules, some of the team also joined the first week of rehearsals via zoom.  During this process the team will be limiting all other social contacts and will be undergoing daily health questionnaires and temperature checks as well as weekly Covid testing.

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer said:

“It is wonderful to have artists back in the Lyric to produce this unique recording of Sadie by our friend and former Artist in Residence, David Ireland.  Our team has worked tirelessly in order to put in extreme safety controls measures in place and I want to thank the cast and all of the team for their due diligence to the safety regulations and towards the well-being of each other in the making of this extraordinary production so that we can bring this great play and Lyric production to your home during this extraordinary time.

We are proud that throughout the closure since March we have been able to keep the Lyric alive, and continue to provide employment for our artists through our new online programme and important partnerships. We are thrilled that our partnership with the BBC, which began with our production of “Splendid Isolation”, will continue to grow with this very exciting initiative for BBC Arts, BBC NI and BBC Four. We are delighted to be associated with the legendary Field Day company on the production of this important and searching play. It is an extraordinary play and I’m delighted to have Conleth Hill directing and a wonderful company of actors and creatives on board. We are very grateful to our Arts Council for their enthusiasm and support for this endeavour too.

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

“The Arts Council of proud to support the Lyric Theatre who have continued to present audiences with original, high-quality work online despite to many challenges presented by the pandemic.  Congratulations to all involved in the creation of this new play, Sadie, a production which not only builds on the success of Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama but it also provides much-needed employment to creatives at this hugely difficult time for the arts.”

For further information on the production visit .   Follow Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @LyricBelfast for behind the scenes and updates on Sadie.

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