Monday, April 20, 2020

New Speak: Re-imagined – new work to be premiered weekly on the Lyric Theatre’s YouTube channel from 24 April


Just over a month ago – though it feels much longer – I sat down in the Lyric’s bar area to interview a very excited Lisa May about her upcoming production of 1984.  The show should have begun its previews on the Lyric Theatre main stage last weekend, running until 16 May.

George Orwell’s ideas about state surveillance, social pressures, doublethink (the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously), Big Brother and the Thought Police echo around my head in these days when you can be fined for straying too far from your home, and smartphones may soon help the health services (and the government) understand who a patient who tests positive for COVID-19 has been in contact with in recent days.

Bruiser Theatre’s production has had to be postponed, though remembering Lisa May’s enthusiasm for the project – “I keep going down a never-ending series of rabbit holes – frustrating and wonderful – as I research” – leads me to believe 1984 will return in better times.

Running alongside the main stage production, the Lyric had commissioned dynamic short performance pieces under the banner of New Speak: Re-imagined that sought to engage with the urgent questions raised by our current political, social and economic moment.

While the five artists (Amadan Ensemble, Zara Janahi, Dominic Montague, Katie Richardson and Lata Sharma) cannot stage their work in the Naughton Studio, the Lyric and its artists have adapted their concepts to move them online and will be featuring the performances in four weekly instalments that will premiere on the Lyric Theatre YouTube channel at 7pm on Friday evenings from 24 April. Each work will be available to watch for seven days.

Based on a quote – “I can see what the future will look like” – from Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s Olivier Award-nominated stage adaptation of 1984, their work will reflect the current coronavirus pandemic landscape; how we got here, and imagining where we go next.

The Lyric’s Executive Producer, Jimmy Fay, describes the Seed Commissions as “compelling, invigorating new work”.
“Our stages may be dark but our mission to create, entertain, inspire as well as support and platform new works continues as we adapt to engage our audiences during these challenging times.”