The Lyric Hammersmith will start a major refurbishment to its 550-seat Victorian main auditorium on 23 June, after the final performance of Fatherland.
It is the first top-to-toe refit of the famous Hammersmith theatre space and studio, in Lyric Square, King Street, since 1979.
Work will take three months, with the Lyric reopening on 5 October with the opening of the production of Othellomacbeth, a bold, thought-provoking staging of two of Shakespeare’s most powerful plays... combined.
The summer’s refurbishment is the latest phase in the Lyric’s multi-million pound expansion which has already seen the foyer space redesigned and the Reuben Foundation wing added.
It coincides with H&F Council’s Arts Strategy to make the borough one of the country’s leading destinations for the arts.
“The latest refurbishment work is helping to future-proof the Lyric theatre for generations to come in H&F,” said Cllr Andrew Jones, H&F Cabinet Member for the Economy and the Arts. “It will help establish the borough as an international beacon for arts as we strive to improve our already vibrant arts scene.”
The council gives the Lyric more than £200,000 a year in funding to run a year-round schedule of theatre and creative activities for local young people, especially for those from a disadvantaged background.
H&F Council wants to give young residents from a wide range of backgrounds more opportunities to experience and take part in artistic activities.
It also supports the Free First Night scheme for those who live or work in H&F, which has been running for more than 20 years, to give residents the chance to see live theatre – which is the first time for many.
The scheme gave out almost 3,000 tickets in 2017, while the community groups ticket offer handed out 580 free tickets to groups such as the Carer’s Network, Women’s Trust, St Mungos and Teenage Cancer Trust.
Built in 1888 as a music hall, the Lyric was redesigned by theatrical architect Frank Matcham in late Victorian times… then moved, brick by brick, from Bradmore Grove, which was a cul-de-sac (which no longer exists) behind its current home in Lyric Square in 1979.
The work will improve access, reduce energy use, boost audience comfort and enhance the theatre-going experience. Plasterwork and ceilings will be restored, and seats upgraded with removable seating in the stalls to create a more versatile space.
The studio is being modernised and rewired for the first time in 40 years, with retractable seating to allow different staging configurations.
The total cost of £780,000 is being part-funded by Arts Council England and charitable foundations, while a name-a-seat appeal gives supporters the chance to be celebrated with personalised plaques.
“We’re looking after the building’s extraordinary heritage as part of our long-term plan to renew the Lyric for future generations,” said Lyric director Sian Alexander.
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