The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre today announces a season of work including projects in the community for Autumn 2020 and two one person shows presented to a socially distanced audience from early 2021, both on sale from today with all tickets £15-£23.

The critically acclaimed Iphigenia in Splott written by Gary Owen, directed by Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan and starring Sophie Melville opens the Main House.

Paterson Joseph makes his Lyric debut in Sancho: An Act of Remembrance, telling the extraordinary story of Charles Ignatius Sancho, the first Black person of African origin to vote in Britain.

Work begins on the Lyric’s first community play Heart of Hammersmith, seeing the theatre work with young people from West London to create a new large-scale intergenerational production co-directed by Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan and resident Assistant Director Alex Hurst.

Artistic Associates Tinuke Craig and Simon Stephens lead two new digital school projects with schools across Hammersmith & Fulham. One with primary schools on the climate emergency and one for secondary schools on identity and race.

The Lyric’s Crowdfunder campaign continues to support the theatre in being able to reopen, currently at 57% towards the target of £50,000.

Artistic Director, Rachel O’Riordan said: “I am delighted that we can today announce shows for our audiences, returning to do what we do best, producing great work with great artists, in our beautiful theatre. Iphigenia in Splott and Sancho tell the stories of two vastly different people from very different times, circumstances and places. Both protagonists make life-changing choices. They both, within the structure of the society they live in, make extraordinary decisions. Sophie Melville and Paterson Joseph are two of the UK’s most exhilarating actors, and I am thrilled they are performing at the Lyric for the first time.

I am pleased to also be announcing the start of our first large-scale community production Heart of Hammersmith. The Lyric belongs to the people of Hammersmith, and we are here for them - this production will be led by a group of young people from West London, making space for them to tell their story with and about their community, in their theatre.”

Executive Director, Sian Alexander said: “I’m thrilled that after 10 long months of closure we will be able to welcome audiences back to the Lyric in the New Year. Ensuring the safety of our artists, audience and team is our number one priority and our new socially distanced seating and industry standard ‘See It Safely’ cleaning and Covid-safety measures mean that everyone can experience the joy of live theatre again at the Lyric. We have long been committed to ensuring access to world-class theatre for everyone and I’m delighted that all seats will be priced at just £15 or £23 this season. In 2021 we will celebrate 25 years of our Free First Night scheme, through which we’ve given over 100,000 free tickets to people who live or work in Hammersmith & Fulham. The Lyric is so many people’s local theatre, just a short walk away from home or work, and it seems fitting that our local community will be the first people through our doors to celebrate our reopening.

Throughout our closure we have continued our vital work with young people in our community ensuring creative opportunities for all and we are excited to launch two new projects in local schools focused on the key issues of our times.

The pandemic has had a devastating financial impact on our theatre, and we are only able to reopen the theatre because of the phenomenal and heart-warming support of our key stakeholders, trusts and individuals - and in particular our local community who are supporting our ongoing crowdfunder campaign with such warmth and passion. We are so grateful to
them all.”

Iphigenia in Splott
By Gary Owen
Directed by Rachel O’Riordan
With Sophie Melville as Effie

Design by Hayley Grindle
Lighting Design by Rachel Mortimer
Sound Design by Sam Jones

Friday 22 January – Saturday 13 February 2021
Press Night: Tuesday 26 January, 7pm

Running time: Approx. 70 mins with no interval

“What is gonna happen, when we can’t take it anymore?”

Gary Owen’s critically acclaimed and powerful monodrama inspired by the Greek myth opens the Lyric’s Main House after 10 months of closure. Directed by Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan and with Sophie Melville reprising her role as Effie for which she won a Stage Award for Acting Excellence and an Evening Standard Award nomination for Best Actress.

Stumbling down the street drunk at 11.30am Effie is the kind of girl you avoid making eye contact with. You think you know her, but maybe you don't know the half of it.

Effie's life is a mess of drink, drugs and drama every night, and a hangover worse than death the next day - till one night gives her the chance to be something more.

Gary’s most recent plays include a radical reworking of The Cherry Orchard for the Sherman Theatre, which translated the action of the play to 1980s Pembrokeshire and Killology, a co-production between the Sherman Theatre and the Royal Court, which won Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre at the 2018 Olivier Awards. Gary's newest play Romeo and Julie is due to be performed at the National Theatre, directed by Rachel O’Riordan.

Iphigenia in Splott was originally commissioned and produced by Sherman Theatre.


Sancho: An Act of Remembrance
Written, directed and performed by Paterson Joseph

Co-directed by Simon Godwin
Design by Michael Vale
Music and sound design by Ben Park
Lighting design by Lucrecia Briceño

Thursday 25 February – Saturday 20 March 2021
Press Night: Tuesday 02 March, 7pm
Supporters’ Night: Wednesday 03 March, 7.30pm

Running time: Approx. 70 mins with no interval

“And like my hero, I struggle against who people think I am when they see the colour of my skin, and who I really am.”

Paterson Joseph, one of the UK’s finest actors, brings his revealing, funny, one-man show to the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, telling the remarkable story of the curious and daringly determined life of Charles Ignatius Sancho.

Charles Ignatius Sancho is having his portrait painted by Thomas Gainsborough. Born on a slave ship in 1729, educated in secret, he may not be the man that you would expect to be painted by Gainsborough, but maybe his story is much more than you could imagine.

Sancho’s life was one of surprising, moving and funny twists. A friend of David Garrick, he became a composer, actor, anti-slavery campaigner and the first Black person of African origin to vote in Britain. This is the story of a man who lived a remarkable and ground-breaking life.

Paterson Joseph is a writer and actor on stage and screen, with TV roles including Noughts & Crosses, Peep Show and Doctor Who. On stage he has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre.

Sancho: An Act of Remembrance was originally commissioned and produced by Pemberley Productions, in association with Oxford Playhouse.

Heart of Hammersmith
Co-directed by Rachel O’Riordan and Alex Hurst


Summer 2021

Heart of Hammersmith is the Lyric’s first large-scale community production, which will open in Summer 2021. The production will celebrate and tell the stories of the people and community of Hammersmith. Working directly with the people of West London who will create the production from their stories, will be a team of professional creatives including co-directors Lyric Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan and the Lyric’s resident Assistant Director Alex Hurst.

The production will be led by a group of 15 young people recruited from West London and aged 18-25. They will shape and develop the direction of the production, and they will recruit other members of their community to be involved with the show, to create a truly intergenerational production.

In schools this Autumn: Stories from the Future

Following the success of the Lyric’s primary school keyworkers’ children project from Summer 2020, the Lyric continues its support and engagement with local schools working in collaboration with Hammersmith & Fulham Council with Stories from the Future. These two free online projects starting in November 2020 will focus on the issues impacting young people in the theatre’s home borough.

All schools involved will be provided with lesson plans and digital resources to stimulate young people’s creative writing and imagination. The project will culminate with professional actors performing the students monologues, which will be recorded and shared digitally alongside live performances in schools in January 2021

Stories from the Future – Imagine 2030 with Simon Stephens
Led creatively by Artistic Associate and award winning playwright Simon Stephens and working with Hammersmith & Fulham primary schools, this project will focus on the impact of the local closure of Hammersmith Bridge and the global climate emergency. The project will encourage schools and students in years 5 and 6 to engage actively with the Hammersmith and Fulham Imagine 2030 campaign to create a borough that is safe, clean and green.

Stories from the Future – Race, Identity & Hidden Histories with Tinuke Craig
Working with Hammersmith & Fulham secondary schools, director and Artistic Associate Tinuke Craig will lead a series of workshops inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The project will encourage schools and students in years 7, 8 and 9 to engage actively with the discussions of race and identity through the students’ own ‘hidden histories’. The subjects will be explored creatively and sensitively, in order to challenge and create awareness of the unconscious perceptions society holds in regards to race and identity regarding ourselves or one another.

Crowdfunder Campaign

In 2020 the Lyric celebrated its 125th birthday at the same time as having to close due to Covid. Having now been closed for over six months, the impact of losing 75% of income has put incredible financial pressure on the theatre.

This is one of the biggest challenges in the theatre’s history and the theatre calls on its community to help ensure that the Lyric remains at the heart of Hammersmith for another 125 years through supporting its Crowdfunder Campaign to raise £50,000 before the 03 November 2020.

To donate to the campaign visit: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/lyrichammersmiththeatre

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