In the 25th anniversary year of the Good Friday Agreement, the Lyric Theatre, as part of Imagine! Belfast Festival 2023, presents a new political drama Agreement from Sat 25 March- Sat 22 April.
This major new play, commissioned by Michael GrandageCompany (MGC), has been written by one of Belfast’s foremost playwrights Owen McCafferty, and is directed by Charlotte Westenra, with set and costume design by Conor Murphy. It examines the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement and weaves real drama out of this complex, momentous and landmark moment for Northern Ireland.
The clock is ticking. It’s April 1998 and the main political parties in Northern Ireland, the British Government and the Irish Government, all under the watchful eye of Senator George Mitchell, try to hammer out a deal that could pave the way for peace in Northern Ireland. Every word, every movement, every stare means something. This is the last chance saloon and no one is leaving until Agreement is reached one way or another.
The stage is set for this political masterpiece which includes a stellar cast line up featuring Richard Croxford as Senator George Mitchell, Dan Gordon as John Hume, Andrea Irvineas Mo Mowlam, Ronan Leahy as Bertie Ahern, Packy Leeas Gerry Adams, Patrick O'Kane as David Trimble and Rufus Wright as Tony Blair.
As a place that has played its part in the 25 year story of the Good Friday Agreement, including an iconic moment of the peace process - the handshake in 2012 between Queen Elizabeth II and Martin McGuinness, the Lyric invites audiences to come together to reflect on this historic and momentous time in the history of Northern Ireland.
The Lyric will also be hosting a number of discussions based on key themes within the play. These will include a special pre-show event hosted by the Irish Association to discuss how culture and arts have provided opportunities for dialogue, engagement and encounter since the Good Friday Agreement was negotiated. The Lyric will also be teaming up with Tenx9 Tenx9 to bring nine true stories on the theme Agreement - as an echo of the new play by Owen McCafferty. Tenx9 is all about true life stories told by the people who have lived them. It began in 2011 in Belfast.
Writer Owen McCafferty, suggests that, while the play is set at a very specific moment, it is much more broadly about the process of negotiation:
“We all spend a good deal of our lives negotiating. It’s how we solve the problems that confront us in our relationships with others. These negotiations always follow the same pattern. A problem arises and we blame the other and in return they blame us. There is a standoff. At this point a decision must be made. Do you continue to blame the other for the existence of the problem or do you realize you are part of the problem. The former leads to a breakdown in the relationship and the latter leads to negotiation – and the possibility of resolution.”
Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer Lyric Theatre, said:
"The Lyric Theatre main stage is the perfect setting for this historically significant piece of work by Belfast playwright Owen McCafferty and directed by Charlotte Westenra. Over the past 25 years Lyric has had its own part to play in the story and journey of The Good Friday Agreement. It is only fitting that Agreement premiere’s on the Lyric main stage, and what a moment it will be when the cast walk out onto the stage as these significant and important characters. Agreement will be one of those productions when you will want to say that you were there to witness this historictheatrical moment.”
Nóirín McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:
“This year we mark the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support the Lyric Theatre and this powerful new production which takes us on the journey of this landmark in our collective history. With superb writing from Owen McCafferty, a stellar cast and compelling story, this is a must-see production this spring and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy.”
Find more previews and reviews on Belfast Times
Tickets for Agreement start from £15 and are available to book now on www.lyrictheatre.co.uk.