125 years of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre
20 July 1895 – 20 July 2020
Today we celebrate 125 years being at the heart of Hammersmith. We’ve welcomed the world’s finest writers, directors, actors and theatre companies to our beautiful Frank Matcham designed theatre. From Harold Pinter to Tanika Gupta; Sir John Gielgud to Sheila Hancock; Complicite to Frantic Assembly, the Lyric has been a home where artists thrive.
As part of our belief in providing greater and equal access to theatre, today we’ve announced ‘Born in the Borough’ – a commitment to provide 25 years of arts opportunities to babies born in our home borough of Hammersmith & Fulham during our birthday year. Parents and guardians can register their child with us if they are resident in and have been born in the borough between the 20 July 2020 and the 20 July 2021. Once we reopen these children will be offered free opportunities to take part in and enjoy the arts throughout their first 25 years.
The Lyric is synonymous with supporting young talent, with the start of many organisations and individuals careers rooted in the theatre. This started as early as the 1920s when it is said Marie Rambert marked the birth of British ballet with her work at the Lyric, which was the beginning of what is now the world-renowned dance company. In the 1950s, the 59 Theatre Company presented landmark productions at the Lyric, shaping their vision as a company, they then went on to create the Manchester Royal Exchange. Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off and the plays of A. A. Milne received their debuts at the Lyric. Following in the footsteps of Ian McKellen who made his London debut on the Lyric stage in 1959, actors that have more recently begun their careers have included Hammed Animashaun, Aneurin Barnard, Karl Queensborough, Iwan Rheon and Charlotte Wakefield to name but a few.
Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan said: ‘I believe passionately in equality of opportunity in access to theatre. Whatever your background, everyone should be able to enjoy the life enhancing experience of theatre in their lives. As an Artistic Director I’ve always known that community is the lifeblood of a producing theatre. My hope is that ‘Born in the Borough’ will ensure that all our ‘125 Babies’ will have that chance and develop a lifelong love of the arts. And within them, there may even be the next Ian McKellen or Noma Dumezweni.’
Executive Director Sian Alexander said: ‘Our community has supported us throughout our 125 years; because of this we’ve survived demolitions and past threats of closure and we are so grateful that the community has continued to support us during the current pandemic. ‘Born in the Borough’ is our gift to Hammersmith & Fulham. We want to inspire the next generation of west Londoners and ensure they can benefit from a creative and cultural childhood. We are proud to serve such a vibrant and diverse community and can’t wait to open our doors and welcome everyone back.’
Every year the Lyric works to nurture the talent and creativity of thousands of young West Londoners aged 0 – 25 years old. They attend Young Lyric creative classes and activities in theatre, music, dance and film delivered by the Lyric and its Young Lyric partners; take part in local school programmes or visit the theatre to see Little Lyric shows and Main House productions.
Through the next year, the Lyric will work with local organisations to reach as many people as possible who can take up this offer. Parents and guardians can register their child as a Lyric 125 Baby by emailing 125Baby@lyric.co.uk
To find out more about the Lyric’s history visit here