We invite artists to get into the ‘guts’ of things, enhance your creative individualistic expression via art, and we wholly support an expansive and endless depth of experimentation.
Come and work, come and play.
The Lyric Theatre is a unique, artist led place in Dorset providing a professional, working base for the range of professional artists involved in creating theatre – performers, circus artists, directors, puppets makers, set designers, composers, costumiers… and the list goes on!
As an artist herself, owner & artistic director Niki McCretton’s vision for the Lyric was to carve a niche in the region to facilitate a creation space for artists, premieres of new work, visiting international companies, showings of work in progress, mentoring and rehearsal space.
We work with artists at all stages of their careers. We welcome the opportunity to work with artists who push boundaries, take risks and encourage audiences to think differently. We are interested in working with artists who create devised theatre and in puppetry, physical theatre, visual performance, circus and innovative children’s theatre.
Performing artists come here from all over the world, some by invitation, and others who ask to come and use this dedicated space in which they can create and present their productions. Spaces like this are few and far between in the UK and we are proud that we have enabled many productions to be born, worked on and premiered here in Bridport. These performances are usually shows that are not on tour as we like to bring unique and experimental, innovative theatre to enhance what is already here with the other wonderful venues in town: Bridport Arts Centre, The Electric Palace and the various pubs/bars presenting live music.
R&D / residencies / rehearsal space / creation space
When artists are in residence we can help find relevant ways in which they can engage or work with the local community. Artists benefit from being able to create the residency they need. Each one is bespoke for the artist to create the work and reach their audience. Some artists want total privacy and secrecy around the work developing in its early, fragile stages; others want audiences to help inform and develop the work in progress and feedback. The Lyric’s artist-led approach means that we can accommodate both. Our bespoke residencies offer artists a range of development opportunities including:
- Mentoring – artistic, producing, marketing, directing, writing, performing and/or design
- Technical support
- Contract negotiation advice
- Access to masterclasses
The main theatre space is available to hire for a few hours or several weeks, depending on your needs and the time of year. The summer months are good for a long booking of several weeks and this has proved popular with artists working on a piece to take to Edinburgh, and then possibly on to tour. Autumn is our busiest season.
During a residency we will lend you a set of keys to use the space independently and around the clock if you wish. The Lyric is in the centre of town so facilities such as shops and cafés are available within a minute’s walk. Bridport is a gateway town to the heritage Jurassic Coast so there are various beautiful beaches nearby for a refreshing breather from the rehearsal room. We can also provide you with a list of accommodation options in the area.
Quotes from Creatives who have worked with us…
The Lyric Theatre is my favourite place to perform. It always feels like I’m performing to friends. Friends who I haven’t seen in years, who are intrigued as to what I’ve made of myself. So I show them, they are always delighted, perplexed, thrilled and proud. I get to feel like I’ve inspired a small wonderful part of the world. Before deciding to leave the UK, Bridport was the top of the list for places we wanted to live. The community is just as wild and rugged and beautiful and fresh as the landscape. I will always love Bridport and recommend you visit this theatre!
Our theater company is based in New York City. When Niki saw the very first performance of our physical comedy/clown show “TiVo La Resistance!” she invited us to come perform the show at the Lyric Theater in Bridport. WHAT A JOY those 2 weeks in Bridport were! It seemed that the entire town welcomed our little band of 3 NYC clowns. The staff at the Lyric were all dedicated creative professionals and an absolute blast to spend time with. The locals were all so welcoming and lovely to us. Oh, and that wonderful space! Our work is very site specific, so every detail of the Lyric was worked into our show…from the lovely velvet wallpaper to the constant calls of the seabirds outside. There’s a mystery to that space…and a warmth. We loved every performance and the parties that followed. Truly our time at the Lyric was among the best days we have spent together as a troupe. We’d come back in an instant! It’s one of a kind!
Such happy memories of rehearsing at the lyric! Puppets and props occasionally popping down to meet us from the workshop upstairs. Quickly packing up at the end for a community group coming in to use the building. Really supports creativity this place.
I have been an actress for 25 years, performing in theatres all over the world, including the Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue, The National Theatre, Birmingham Rep, Chichester and Sydney Opera House, I can honestly say that The Lyric has a character like no other. I fell in love with the space, its faded glamour reminiscent of a bygone era, and wanted to perform there as soon as I had seen it. I have since seen many shows there, attended puppet clubs and workshops with my children, tea dances, tango sessions and electro swing dance nights – all wonderful and different, truly different. The Lyric attracts a community like no other venue I can think of, and people feel a sense of freedom, almost anarchy, when they come to see or take part in something, whether it’s dressing up in vintage clothes, or expressing themselves in manners they wouldn’t elsewhere. Likewise the performers at the Lyric are always surprising, challenging, enterprising and above all inclusive, regardless of age, sex or background. I finally had my chance to perform my solo show there, and was supported enormously by everyone involved with the theatre and by the entire local community. The sensation is almost magical, almost as if the auditorium was a part of the show itself, and the audience so full of character as to be playing roles within it. If any community venue should be kept alive and thrilling it is this one.
My production Trans Scripts has received a tremendous amount of support due to rave reviews and several awards and grants in Edinburgh and in the United States. However, the Lyric Theater Bridport offered support before anyone else. Niki and Delphine there recognized the potential of the project and got behind it from the start.
A small community that outsiders might think would be close-minded, opened its arms to a dozen artists, many of whom are transgender, offering rehearsal space, lovely accommodation, audience support, and love. The post show discussions lasted almost as long as the show and provided important feedback, as well as encouragement that the project would have legs.
Niki McCretton, her staff, and the Lyric audience embraced the project and made its development possible, and for that, I am forever grateful. I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to return.
The Lyric Theatre Bridport very generously offered us a week long residency, entirely for free, the week of the 21st of September 2020. After six months of next to no work and of hardly having seen one another, let alone worked together, this residency was more than a generous offer, it was a real gift. It allowed us to get back into a space together and experiment. It re-initiated a process which is extremely difficult to re-engage when there is only a domestic space to work in and when a global pandemic has almost completely shut down all forms of performance and encouragement and made seeing and talking to one another very difficult.
Coming away from this week we have realised just how crucial a space to ‘play’ in is. Without 3D space, we find it impossible to generate new work. Living in London, the opportunities for residencies that are affordable, let alone free, are few and far between.
We love the Lyric and everyone who works there. We appreciate their support and encouragement and the sense of ease with which we were allowed to use the building (from top to toe) and come and go as we pleased.
The Lyric has also ended up being incorporated into our work completely, not just used as a rehearsal space, but as a set, location and inspiration!
A gem of a theatre with a unique atmosphere. I had the great pleasure of performing there along with Spitz & Co last year and look forward to returning very soon.
For four wonderful years, I visited the Lyric each Tuesday evening to teach contemporary dance to my growing group of young lads – Bridport Boys Dance. The Lyric was our home for those years and we loved being there in its unique theatre space, shared with sets being created for shows, performers and artists crossing paths with us as we came and went, always welcoming and interested in what we were about.