The Lyric Theatre and Arts Council for Northern Ireland are delighted to announce this year’s recipients of the 2021 New Playwrights Programme. 

Now in its fourth year, the programme is a six-month writing development programme aimed at new and early career playwrights to create new work.  

This year saw the highest number of applicants with 330 submissions resulting in a shortlist of 29.  The five writers awarded places on the programme are: Caitlin Magnall-Kearns, Caoimhe Farren, Rose Coogan, Paul Mallon and Eléonore Maudet.

As part of the Lyric’s continued commitment to supporting and developing talent, the writers will develop their ideas over the next six months with the support of Lyric’s Literary Manager, Rebecca Mairs.  

The new works will be brought to life on stage (subject to Covid restrictions) at the Lyric Theatre in Autumn 2021 by professional actors and directors.

The 2021 programme is important more now than ever as it supports local freelance creatives.  Recently the Lyric announced it had employed over 310 freelancers in the past year despite the closure of the theatre due to the pandemic.

Rebecca Mairs, Literary Manager, Lyric Theatre, said: “We’re thrilled and deeply honoured that so many writers wanted to develop their work with us, despite the challenges of the past year.  The array of talent, originality and ingenuity across the submissions was remarkable and fills us with hope for the future.  

“Whilst the reading and selection process was a long and considered one, it clearly emerged that there were four projects which had the edge (including a husband-and-wife writing team), and we’re so excited to be working with this super talented group.”

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Arts Development Officer for Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to partner with the Lyric Theatre on the New Playwright’s Programme, supported by our National Lottery and public funds.  This important programme ensures that emerging writers get dedicated, bespoke mentorship support over a six-month period to create and showcase new work.  

“This year’s line-up of five new playwrights – all from or based in NI – is really exciting. Two young writers with urgent, unique voices and stories to tell; and two established actors starting on their writing journeys with thrilling projects born from lived experience. A really dynamic host of artists, and I very much look forward to seeing their work on the Lyric Theatre stage later this year.”

For further details on the Lyric’s new writing work, please see  Follow the Lyric Theatre on social media @LyricBelfast.