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To me, the Lyric Theatre represents a creative space that offers an absolutely unique performance and community venue for Bridport and the surrounding area.

Prior to the Covid-19 lock down crisis (and hopefully following it), it has offered some of the most engaging, stimulating and interactive theatrical and musical events.

Coupled with this extremely rich and diverse menu of performances, an ongoing range of workshops and interactive events have been regularly been made available.

This is a theatre truly rooted within the community it resides in and the artistic vision of the director is ensuring that theatre is kept vibrant and alive and accessible for the lucky recipients of that largess of spirit.

Long may it continue to do so, and long may it be enabled to do so through whatever support that can be supplied.

When describing the Lyric to others, I usually mention first off that it provides a tucked-away, and therefore creatively-free space for small theatre companies to experiment with new works of performance and to ‘try them out’ on Bridport’s open, receptive, but also critically astute audience. And then, off they go to Edinburgh festival or wherever taking a little bit of the Lyric with them out into the world.

I then mention how unique the Lyric theatre is as an early-Georgian building with a diverse history of public uses over 275 years including church, political assembly, cinema, dance school and now theatre and remarkably also part of a trio of other fine Georgian buildings, the Literary and Scientific Institute and the Chapel in the Garden, all still in public use – Bridport’s own ‘three graces’.

As a film fan, the event I’d highlight is a screening of Buster Keaton’s, The General, a silent film from the 20’s shown with live musical accompaniment by a group of local musicians to a packed audience. It brought cinema back home to Bridport’s first cinema, the Electric Palace, as the Lyric was known in the early part of the 20th century. Taking inspiration from this event, Bridport’s annual film festival have also programmed a further silent screening in the 2020 festival.

The Lyric Theatre in Bridport, since being ‘rescued’ from some horrendous development by Niki some years ago, has become a place that invokes strong emotions in people, including intense loyalty and commitment to the ideas and ethos of Niki and the team she has built around her, including and especially Delphine. The building itself is both shambolic and completely delightful, with flock wallpaper and golden wall lights that are reminiscent of the era when I first knew it as a cinema during my childhood in Bridport (mid 40s/early 50s) and there is an intimate cafe/bar area with lots of atmosphere. The shows I have seen at the Lyric since it became a theatre again have all been fascinating, innovative, sometimes slightly crazy and always memorable. The atmosphere that is created seems to make it unimportant whether audience numbers are large or (sometimes) very small, as the space is adaptable to any variation of seating – from extremely intimate in a circle to the theatre being packed out with every space filled. I was delighted to be able to move my regular storytelling evenings with professional storytellers to the Lyric after the previous venue became unsuitable. For my final year of organising these events, it was hugely enjoyable to become a very small part of the Lyric team and to feel included in this wonderfully creative venture of providing a space within which new experiences could happen. The storytellers all thoroughly enjoyed the ‘feel’ of the place and the ways in which it was possible for audiences to be truly engaged in and part of the experience. Huge thanks to Niki, Delphine and the team of people who help to keep the theatre going and my best and warmest wishes for it to be able to continue in whatever way is possible as we eventually emerge from our current very dramatic time of pandemic.

When we first moved to Bridport I was lonely, I found things very frustrating and difficult. Seeing that the Lyric ran puppet classes I asked if adults could come as well, which they said yes to! I then started volunteering two hours a week in the office and really enjoyed myself, it raised my self confidence and encouraged me to get out there and do some thing. Once my energy levels started rising I joined in helping with puppet club and stewarding for performances. My favourite memories so far are when the local schools came down to see the Christmas performance and nearly took the roof off.

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