Q+A: Diarmuid O’Dwyer, Lir Graduate talks about his Time at The Lir – And How it Helped Him Become CEO of his own Company
Diarmuid O’Dwyer graduated from the degree in Stage Management and Technical Theatre in 2019, and since then has launched his own software management tool, PromptPad. PromptPad, is innovative software developed to support production companies within the arts and entertainment sector. PromptPad has been in a live beta test at The Lir since the beginning of January 2023. We caught up with him to hear about how it all began.
Did you always want to study at the Lir?
When I think back to when I was that young sixth year student, trying to decide what to pursue for college let alone as a career in general, It really was quite daunting. I was always interested in film and tv, in particular cameras and for some reason never really considered a career in the backstage world until later on in my school years.
It wasn’t until half way through 6th year when one of my mam’s friends, who was a guidance counsellor at the time told me about The Lir. I hadn’t heard of The Lir before, but I knew as soon as she told me about it, that it was where I wanted to go.
How was your experience at The Lir?
The Lir is unlike any other college experience. Not realising just how practical the course was going into it, I really enjoyed my college experience. They operate very much like a live production company. The students on the Stage Management and Technical Theatre course become the entire production and technical team for the shows that are produced – which are full scale shows with intricate sets and demanding lighting designs, for the most part all managed and run by the students.
The Lir has a tutor for each department to oversee the students as they progress from show to show. These tutors for Stage Management, Lighting, Sound and Set have a wealth of knowledge from working professionally in the industry. The standard of the staff at The Lir is one of the highest in the country; you are trained by the best.
Did you feel ready to go out into the real world after the course?
The way in which the course is structured, you are thrust into a brand-new group of people on your very first day, who are to become your friends, peers and future colleagues. The Stage Management and Technical Theatre course prepares you for a number of different situations as you go into the world of the arts; the irregular working hours the industry operates by, managing schedules, being a strong problem-solver and understanding the fundamentals of every single department on the team. So, even if you want to focus on stage management and are not interested in lighting for example, you still have the understanding of that department which will help massively in building your career in the industry as you become multi-disciplinary throughout your time in The Lir.
What did you do after finishing the course?
The first show I worked on after The Lir, was the biggest of my entire career at the time. I had been offered to work with Riverdance, the Irish dancing show known all over the world. I was the Technical Stage Manager for their Summer 2019 run, which began at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin and ended at the INEC in Killarney. Right before the pandemic at the start of 2020, just seven months after graduating, I was on tour in the UK with Friends: The Musical Parody, a comedy musical about the hit TV show. Just eight weeks into what would have been a six month tour of the UK and Ireland, we were forced to come home. Which, looking back on it now, was the beginning of a path I thought I would never find myself on; being CEO of a technology company.
What is PromptPad?
PromptPad, is an innovative software management tool developed to support production companies within the arts and entertainment sector. Our platform gives production companies in the industry a specific software platform with built in features and functionality catered to their exact needs. PromptPad offers a range of features including; scheduling and report creation, cast and crew dossiers, expense management and our key feature being the complete digitisation of the traditional paper-based promptbook created for any stage production. PromptPad will save the production time, increase productivity, and become the ultimate GDPR compliant platform specifically built for the arts and entertainment industry. Initially, we will capture the theatre industry first, utilising our contacts and building our customer base in a sector we know well, and then begin implementation of PromptPad for TV, Film, Music Festivals and Concerts.
Where did this idea come from?
It was my experience working in the production world that led to the idea. I was acutely aware of the workplace inefficiencies and traditional methods the industry still operates by. I approached Conor, (now co-founder and CTO), who was my friend throughout secondary school. Conor was then in his final year studying Computer Science at UCD. After a lengthy discussion explaining the challenges production companies face and how a digital solution would be of real benefit, we decided to collaborate to create what is now PromptPad.
PromptPad has been in a live beta test at The Lir since the beginning of January 2023. Diarmuid and his team are working closely with the students as they learn how the platform works, while giving PromptPad feedback, insights and ideas for what PromptPad can become.