MFA Playwriting: Meet Our Graduates

As applications are now open for our one-year MFA programmes. We caught up with a few of our Playwriting alumni.

Our MFA in Playwriting programme has seen a brilliantly diverse range of creative talent emerge from The Lir Academy and go on to other things.

Here is a just a few of the incredible graduates and what they are currently up to.

You can see more on the course at this link, deadline for applications is March 31st.

Meadhbh McHugh is an Irish playwright and screenwriter. Most recently, Meadhbh wrote five episodes of Conversations with Friends , the Element Pictures screen adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel for BBC and Hulu. Meadhbh also wrote the critically acclaimed stage adaptation of Louise O’Neill’s Asking for It (2018), in collaboration with Annabelle Comyn, co-produced by Landmark Productions and The Everyman in association with the Abbey Theatre. Asking for It played to full houses at the Everyman Theatre in Cork, the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. The adaptation won the Audience Choice Award at the Irish Times Theatre Awards. Meadhbh’s debut play, Helen and I (2016) was produced by Druid Theatre Company and transferred to the Dublin Theatre Festival. Helen and I was shortlisted for the Stewart Parker Trust Award for best Irish debut play. Her debut radio play, April Showers, won a P.J. O’Connor Award for new writing in 2014. Meadhbh holds a PhD in Theatre from Columbia University (2021), New York, where she taught writing and literature classes for many years.

CN Smith is a playwright and director from County Louth, Ireland. He was a recipient of The Lir Academy’s Patricia Leggett Playwriting Scholarship for 2020, allowing him to complete his MFA. His play Spear was a Dublin Fringe Festival commission for 2022, and was presented at Smock Alley. An excerpt of his play Corktown was presented as part of the 2023 Trans-Atlantic Commissions readings in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Gillian is an Irish writer and Dramaturg based in London. She is currently Literary Manager at Soho Theatre. Gillian most recently adapted BOY PARTS, the critically acclaimed debut novel by Eliza Clark for the stage. It was performed on Soho Theatre Main Stage in Autumn 2023. Other recent credits also include dramaturgy for KATHY & STELLA SOLVE A MURDER! A New Musical, premiering at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2022 and then touring the UK in Summer 2023.

Her début play PETALS was nominated for the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play in 2015 and later adapted for radio winning the Celtic Media Festival Award for Best Radio Drama 2020 with Near FM. Her second play MEAT was shortlisted for the Theatre503 International Playwriting Award and ran at Theatre503 in early 2020 to great critical acclaim. She is currently developing new work with Abbey Theatre, Ireland and 45 North Productions, London.

Caitríona Daly is a playwright from Dublin whose plays have been produced in Ireland and internationally. Her plays include: Duck Duck Goose (Fishamble, 2021 Dublin Theatre Festival); Normal (nominated for the Fishamble New Writing Award); and Test Dummy. She was nominated for the Fishamble New Writing Award at the Dublin Fringe Festival for Normal in 2017 and an Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play for Test Dummy in 2016. She was a participant in Six in the Attic, an Irish Theatre Institute initiative, from 2018-2019.

Erica Murray is an MFA Playwriting grad from 2016. Her play The Loved Ones, a co-production by Rough Magic and The Gate Theatre, ran as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2023. Last year she was selected to be part of the inaugural New Playwright’s Programme at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast where she developed her play All Mod Cons and it was given a staged reading at the Lyric in October directed by Des Kennedy. It has had a subsequent reading in New York as part of the Origin Irish Theatre Festival. She has also been a member of the Young Writer’s Lab at Soho Theatre where she wrote her play The Cat’s Mother which was then long-listed for the Verity Bargate Award 2017. It premiered at The Vaults Festival in London in February where it was one of The Stage’s top five picks of the festival. It toured to the Edinburgh Fringe at Underbelly in August 2018, and then the Dublin Fringe, where Erica won the Fishamble best new writing award. She was awarded the Peggy Ramsey Playwright fund, and was a past winner of the Channel 4 Playwright scheme.

Since graduating, Brenman Rajkumar has gone on to be the Resident Director at the Kiln Theatre and then the National Theatre UK. He was the Literary Manager at Bristol School of Acting, where he adapted Don Quixote, and has directed Drama School productions at Guildhall and London College of Music - where he also adapted Three Sisters. Brenman was also a dramaturg and director on the Lyric Belfast's New Playwrights Programme. He was the Playwriting Lead and Showcase Director for Maya Productions' Diverse Voices project and is Lead Facilitator for their Inclusion Boost and Race and Allyship Training. He was also Associate Director on The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Tour.

Lir graduate Clare McMahon (MFA Playwriting 2018) is a playwright and actor based in Belfast and is Co-Creative of Commedia of Errors. She is currently under commission with Lyric Theatre, Kabosh Theatre, Commedia of Errors and is one of the Abbey Theatre’s Centenary development awardees. The Gap Year is her Lyric Theatre mainstage debut. It was first developed through Fishamble’s Play for Ireland 2018, the Lyric Theatre’s New Playwrights Programme 2019, selected for New York’s 1st Irish Origin Festival as part of their Vital Voices programme and produced for the Lyric’s ‘Listen at the Lyric’ audio series 2020. She was a shortlisted writer for the Zodiak Kids Award with CBBC.

Since graduating in 2014, Barry McEvoy has developed and runs the screenwriting program for Flying Turtle productions at The Ireland Institute on Pearse street. His students have gone on to win multiple awards, including Best Picture at the 2019 IndieCork film festival. He is on the panel for the Writers in Prison scheme and has taught screenwriting to inmates at the Wheatfield prison. He also provides personal screenplay coverage and development at His critical analysis titled PARADOX, PRESSURE AND METAPHOR IN JOKER was published in Script Magazine in 2020.

Graduate of the MFA Playwriting 2015, Bevin Dooley is a playwright & dramaturg. Selected works include Nyctophobia/Here There Be Night (Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre); IN CAMERA (parts&labour/CGAS/ Found Festival); and Slack Tide (Blarney Productions/part&labour/Edmonton Fringe Festival). Readings of her work have been presented at SkirtsAfire, Script Salon, and the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival. Bevin has worked as a dramaturg with Alberta Musical Theatre Company, the University of Alberta New Works Festival, NextFest Festival of Emerging Artists, and Alberta Playwrights’ Network. In addition to their theatre work, Bevin is currently expanding the ways they tell stories to include filmmaking and prose fiction. She resides in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal.

Tom Nieboer's play Glowworm, developed in collaboration with fellow Lir alumni, premiered at the Project Arts Centre as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe in 2016. It was nominated for three Tiger Dublin Fringe Awards and one Irish Times Irish Theatre Award. In 2021, Tom's play The Pale Stranger was named a finalist for both the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and the New American Voices Playwriting Festival. His work has also undergone development with UglyRhino, Hearth Gods, Fuller Road Artist Residency, Play x Play, The Ume Group, and Brief Palava.