Fierce LoveÂ is a compelling and candid biography of Cork-born theatre pioneer (1918-2006) Mary O’Malley, founder-director of Belfast’s Lyric Players Theatre from 1951 to 1981.
Fierce LoveÂ is a compelling and candid biography of Cork-born theatre pioneer (1918-2006) Mary O’Malley, founder-director of Belfast’s Lyric Players Theatre from 1951 to 1981.Â NeÃ©Â Hickey, Mary went to Loreto Secondary School in Navan, Co. Meath, writing and directing her first play,Â The Lost Princess, before living with her mother in Dublin. There she became a key member of the New Theatre Group, immersed in the city’s social and cultural life and joining the Irish Society for Intellectual Freedom.
On 14 September 1947 Mary married Armagh-born psychiatrist Pearse O’Malley, later moving to Belfast’s Derryvolgie Avenue off the Malone Road. There she formed a fifty-seat studio theatre above the stables and created Belfast Lyric Players Theatre, a company of actors and artists who were to put on 140 plays over seventeen years on a stage only ten-foot wide, asserting a broad Irish and European culture. W.B Yeats, twenty-six of whose plays were performed, was her standard-bearer.
In 1952 she was elected to Belfast Corporation as an Irish Labour Party councillor, and in 1957 she founded the literary magazineÂ Threshold, which enjoyed a thirty-year lifespan. Her other activities included running a drama school, an art gallery and music academy, while raising a family of three.
As she battled conservatism, a socialist and nationalist in a Unionist city, this courageous and tenacious woman transformed Belfast with her playhouse – Liam Neeson and CiarÃ¡n Hinds were among her protÃ©gÃ©es – expanding her repertoire and bridging the political quagmire of the sixties to build a permanent 300-seater Lyric Players theatre, which opened with Yeats’s Cuchulain Cycle in October 1968. Her fierce will survived the Troubles, ensuring that her broad-based community theatre never had to close its doors. Her vision was posthumously crowned by the 2011 Lyric Theatre building overlooking the Lagan.
Fierce LoveÂ celebrates these achievements, chronicling a resourceful and controversial individual, who swam against the tide of populism and sectarianism to establish an independent academy for actors and artists in a tireless quest for imaginative freedom and excellence. Mary O’Malley’s life was complex, and her legacy enduring.
|Dimensions||23.4 × 15.6 × 3.1 cm|
The Lilliput Press
The Lilliput Press
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