New Performance Space @ Sydney Lyric Theatre

Rebecca Varidel
23rd Oct 2023

Foundation Theatres 100% Australian owned, Sydney-based theatre owner, operator and production investor (owner operator of the Capitol Theatre and Sydney Lyric Theatre) today announced that it has submitted a development application to modify the existing underutilised rear stage of the Sydney Lyric to create a new intimate performance space with a capacity for 630.

The stage of the Sydney Lyric was designed to be able to accommodate large scale repertory opera. It allowed multiple productions to be performed in the cycle of a single week, with space for two sets that could be deployed in quick succession. The stage space behind the main stage, the rear stage, was constructed to accommodate this type of opera repertory production schedule. Over its history the Sydney Lyric has never been used for opera repertory productions and the rear stage underutilised.

Currently the rear stage is primarily used during the load in and load out periods for shows as a staging area for scenery and production equipment. Once a truck has been unloaded at stage level using the truck lift from street level, the equipment is stored in the rear stage prior to it being installed on the stage or elsewhere inside the theatre. During a load out the equipment is brought to the rear stage and when ready it is loaded into trucks. Outside of load in and load out periods the rear stage is underutilised.

The modifications will be completed by mid-2024 and are expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2024. The new venue will have a variety of operating modes with retractable seating to allow flat floor operations for up to 630 standing and a seated capacity for 360. The new space will have a rear balcony with 80 seats. The venue will have its own dressing rooms and back of house facilities and will share the existing entrances of the Sydney Lyric though its foyers.

“This additional venue to Sydney’s theatre ecosystem will provide a new performance space of a size that is in critical demand in Sydney, particularly for emerging works and performers seeking to showcase performances to Sydney audiences," explained CEO of Foundation Theatres Graeme Kearns.

“We’re looking forward to programming the new venue with contemporary music, drama, cabaret and comedy that will work nicely in Pyrmont’s thriving entertainment precinct with the other theatres we have planned for the area.”

Australia’s leading theatre producer John Frost said: “Sydney’s theatre scene can only benefit from commercial theatre offerings of this size and capability. I’ve worked with the team at Foundation Theatres for the past 15 years, and I congratulate them on their vision for this new performance space and for their efforts to build this space and the new theatres that Sydney needs.”

Olivia Ansell, Festival Director for the Sydney Festival commented that: “Finding versatile theatres that can accommodate a broad range of artistic works, in a variety of presentation modes can often be a challenge in Sydney. Presenters and artists across the country will warmly welcome this intimate theatre space to Sydney”.

Minister for the Arts, Music and the Night-time Economy, John Graham said today: “The NSW Government fully supports the creation of new privately funded theatre spaces, particularly ones that satisfy demand for new programming and diversify our artistic productions in this state.

“As we announced this week, we are reviving the night-time economy, and supporting live performance, and a new, intimate stage space would be most welcome at this moment.”

In addition to the new performance space at the Sydney Lyric, Foundation Theatres has received planning approval to construct a new 1550 seat Broadway style theatre and a 1000 seat live performance space in Pyrmont, due for completion in 2025.