Lir Graduates taking Centre Stage

Successes aplenty for graduating students
After three years of intensive training, graduates from The Lir, Ireland’s National Academy of Dramatic Art at Trinity College Dublin, have secured roles at Druid Theatre Company, with Selina Cartmell at The Lyric in Belfast, in the autumn season at The Abbey and at The Globe in London. There are graduates building sets for The Gate, stage managing with Wexford Opera and The Abbey and playwrights having plays read at the Galway International Arts Festival. Many of the graduating class of 15 acting students have secured international representation, with graduates in playwriting, stage management and technical theatre also securing significant appointments and opportunities. The news has been greeted with delight and pride by Director Loughlin Deegan. “We opened our doors to the first students in September 2011, and in three years we’ve watched our first graduating class of actors go from strength to strength, as have our aspiring playwrights, stage managers and theatre technicians” Deegan said. “The Lir aspires to be a training ground for brilliance, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team for setting such high standards and of our students for achieving them” The Lir Academy was created because of a genuine requirement within the Irish theatre, TV and film industries for actors, directors, playwrights and designers to be trained to international standards. The brainchild of Prof Brian Singleton and Danielle Ryan, The Lir has delivered admirably on that original vision with a custom designed building, enlightened direction from Loughlin Deegan, and highly acclaimed Irish and International Directors, Actors, Voice Coaches, Movement Tutors, Playwrights, Technical experts and Designers to work with the students throughout their training. The Lir Academy has developed their courses in association with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA.) The graduating students have acted in eight theatrical productions and two short films in 2014, directed and designed by leading theatre professionals, including Conall Morrison, Annabelle Comyn, Wayne Jordan, Selina Cartmell, Hilary Wood, Paul O’Mahoney, Joe Vanek, Tom Creed, Paul Keogan and Sinead McKenna. The Lir’s students assist these leading professionals in directing, stage management, ,technical theatre, set design, lighting design and costume design. "It was my great pleasure to work over the last number of years with the first graduating class of The Lir's BA in Acting,” said Associate Resident Director Wayne Jordan. “They were a dynamic group of committed, hardworking and incredibly talented young artists. Their training has made them analytically and technically brilliant. They are risk takers with an extraordinary breadth of experience under their belts before they even leave the Academy. I have no doubt these students will contribute to many amazing projects in Ireland and internationally." Following highly successful Acting Showcases for the students in March in Dublin and at RADA in April in London, the following Lir students have been cast in a show or secured representation, as the first important step in their acting careers. Take note of these names - it may not be the last time you hear them… Roles Announced for Acting Graduates • Rhys Dunlop, Rory Corcoran and Lauren Coe have performed in Punk Rock, directed by Selina Cartmell at The Lyric Theatre, Belfast. • Vanessa Emme is currently performing in Pitcairn, a co-production between Out of Joint, Chichester Festival Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe. • Rachel O’Byrne has been cast in Brigit by Tom Murphy, directed by Garry Hynes for Druid which opened in Galway early September and is travelling to Clifden Arts Festival and Dublin Theatre Festival. • Sophie Jo Wasson performed in Five Minutes Later for Sugarglass by Ellen Flynn, a graduate of The Lir MFA in Playwriting, to be performed at The Lir from August 27-September 6. • Liam Heslin has been cast in Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy directed by Conall Morrison which opened in The Gaiety Theatre the second week of September. • Alan Mahon has been cast in Shaun Dunne’s The Waste Ground Party which opens in The Peacock late October. • Cameron Cuffe has been cast in The Vertical Hour, Park Theatre London and City of Angels at The Donmar Warehouse Professional Diploma in Stage Management and Technical Theatre These graduates from The Lir are also going out into the theatre world and finding jobs and opportunities. Mary Kilduff is Wardrobe Mistress on The Rape of Lucretia for Irish Youth Opera at Wexford Opera House, The Everyman, Cork and O'Reilly Theatre Dublin, followed by a stint as Stage Manager with Wexford Festival Opera. Ciara Nolan is Assistant Stage Manager in The Gaiety for Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy ; Cillian McNamara has been accepted by RADA to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Stage Electrics and Lighting Design; Leon Kennedy has found work with TPS Scenic Construction while Aaron Kennedy will be working in The Peacock. Conor Sweeney has been appointed temporary Technical Officer at The Moat Theatre in Naas, starting this month. Aaron Kennedy is Assistant Stage Manager on The Mariner at The Gate from the end of September. This production is part of this year's Dublin Theatre Festival. The first Lir playwriting MFA graduates are also making an impact: Playwriting Graduates Graduates Emily Gilmor Murphy and Meadhbh McHugh were programmed for public readings of their plays in “First Thought Talks” by Druid Theatre in this year’s Galway International Arts Festival in July. Emily has also had two books published, and Meadhbh had a radio play broadcast on RTE Radio Drama and has secured a fully funded place on the Columbia University Theatre PHD in New York which she will take up in September 2014. As mentioned earlier, Ellen Flynn’s play – Five Minutes Later was being performed at The Lir this summer