Creative Hub: Wexford Playwrights Studio 2020
Wexford Arts Centre in association with Arts Department of Wexford County Council are delighted to announce the eight applicants selected from recent open call to participate in the first Wexford Playwrights Studio initiative. The selected applicants are Joe Brennan, Imelda Carroll, Sheila Forsey, Jack Matthews, Hannah McNivan, Megan O’Malley, Dominic Palmer and Eoghan Rua Finn
The group participants will receive mentorship during the year from leading award winning and acclaimed playwrights, dramaturgs and directors including: Billy Roche, Deirdre Kinahan, Ben Barnes, and Thomas Conway. Staged reading and short play production events options will also be considered for production at Wexford Arts Centre. Participants will be advised on script development, dramaturgy, direction and production of work. Staged readings and play production/work in progress will also be considered for presentation along with additional production support in Wexford Arts Centre in 2021. The Wexford Playwrights Studio is limited to eight members to ensure adequate individual attention is exclusively dedicated to support, development and promotion of playwrights in the group.
Wexford Arts Centre in association with Arts Department of Wexford County Council wish the playwrights every success with the development of their plays over the year.
Joe Brennan grew up immersed in the stories of his home town of Wexford. He is a playwright, theatre maker, storyteller and facilitator with over 20 years experience. He has travelled throughout Ireland and beyond performing and delivering workshops to people of all ages, and to the professionals who work with them. He has shared his creative skills as far North as Iceland, Moscow in the East, Washington DC in the West, India in the South and many points in between.
As a children’s playwright Joe has had a number of his plays produced, including the highly successful The Witchin’ Well which toured nationally twice and was performed at the ‘100, 1,000, 1,000,000 Stories,’ Children’s Festival inBucharest, Romania. He is the creator and performer of the magical Star Boy, a theatre show without words for early years, which continues to tour. Star Boy also toured to Washington DC for ‘Euro Kids Festival’, with a performance at the Kennedy Centre. He was the Children’s Curator at Kilkenny Arts Festival and Director of Ramelton Storytelling Festival. He has received of a number of funding awards from Culture Ireland and the Arts Council including a YPCE Bursary and travel awards. He is the author of Donegal Folk Tales, published by History Press Ireland.
Imelda Carroll is from Wexford town. Her plays and performance pieces have been produced locally and in the UK. She won Scripts and the Write by the Sea story competition in 2016. Her short screenplay, Chicken Out, to be produced by Outleft Productions, has been selected by the DLR First Frames funding scheme.
Sheila Forsey is an Irish Times best-selling author of historical fiction and is published by Poolbeg Press. To date she has three novels published: Mending Lace, Kilbride House and The Secret of Eveline House. In 2012 she graduated with an honours certificate in creative writing through Maynooth University. In 2019 she was awarded a literary bursary from Wexford Arts Council and Artslink.
Sheila has a background in drama through Kilmuckridge Drama Group and was part of the core acting group for Watergate Theatre Company during her years living in Kilkenny City. She has facilitated creative writing workshops in Wexford Arts Centre and The Presentation Arts Centre and in many festivals throughout the country. She was a committee member for Wexford Literary Festival for two years. Sheila is the tutor for creative writing for Adult Education in Gorey Community College. Sheila is from Kilmuckridge and is very much looking forward to combining her writing with her love of plays.
Jack Matthews studied theatre at Inchicore College. He has written a full-length play under the working title The Unkillable Irish Man and a one-act play which he recently submitted to the Wexford Literary Festival. He scripted the Heritage Park Digital series for the Irish National Heritage Park which was picked up by RTÉ.ie as well as the upcoming Vikings Journey for Crinniú na nÓg and had fun trying to rally the Wexford Hurlers with online sketches such as ‘Bravehun’. He has published poems online too. ‘The Battle of Corish Park’ was recorded and aired by South-East Radio. His poem ‘You nurses (with tongues on fire)’ also went viral and was published by the Irish Mirror Online. He devised a script with Bui Bolg for a commemoration of Dun Laoghaire’s pier and wrote a short play for Wordplay’s 24-hour challenge at the National Opera House.
Hannah McNiven is a Wexford native with work published in The Irish Times and Lore magazine. In 2017, she was long-listed for the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award and short-listed for the same prize in 2018. She has written for stage and screen, winning the Wexford Film Fund in 2018 with her short film, The Lady on the Hill which was produced in 2019. Last year, she was also a facilitator on the Youthquake radio play project for transition-year students. Hannah also took part in the Seed to Stage Word programme facilitated by Peter Murphy at Wexford Arts Centre.
Megan O’Malley is an actor and writer from Castlebridge, Co. Wexford.
Megan trained as an actor in the Gaiety School of Acting before going on to gain her masters degree in Theatre Practice from University College Dublin. Megan wrote and staged her first play HOME in 2018. Since then she has worked on a number of productions including her newest play @CupánTaeBae which was staged as part of Smock Alley’s Scene and Heard festival 2020.
Dominic Palmer has been writing and performing since his late teens, currently based in Wexford. He splits his time between creating no-cost black comedies with his comedy duo “Taming of the Crew” and working on larger projects with local artists. With Taming of the Crew he wrote and performed a dark bromance Papa Bear Baby Bear and its cancer-themed follow up, Baby Bear Papa Bear, both of which were performed in the Wexford Arts Centre.
His 2014 satire on hot-button plays, Hot Topics wacs chosen in competition by Billy Roche, and produced and performed by Newline Theatre/Wordplay as part of a celebration of new writing. Since then, Dominic has been commissioned by Wexford Opera House, as part of Bang On Productions, to write, direct, and perform their Christmas shows, Rudey’s Christmas Adventure and A Quest Before Christmas. He also took part in the local arts showcase The Evo Festival, with his one-man dramedy piece A 41 Year Old Ex-Raver Who Will No Longer Do Slapstick, an exploration of slapstick, ageing and schadenfreude; and spent time exploring his own style of character-based stand-up.
In 2018, Dominic’s short play Twenty Years Later was shortlisted for the Wexford Literary Festival’s Billy Roche Short Play Award. In 2019 he got the opportunity to direct and perform this as part of the festival’s ‘Plays in the Pub’ evening, where it received an extraordinarily warm response from the audience. Dominic is currently spending his Covid-isolation dusting down old and unfinished works, and connecting with artists locally and internationally on an ongoing Pinter’s Pause project.
Eoghan Rua Finn is 32 years old. He has been writing poetry, plays and screenplays for six years. Eoghan Rua’s first produced play Come Along the Road Until You Stop Dead was selected by playwright Billy Roche as one of three winners in a playwriting competition in Wexford and was produced by Newline Theatre in December 2014. This play was then performed by Enniscorthy Drama Group in the All-Ireland One-Act Drama Festival 2015, reaching the All-Ireland Final in Galway in December 2015. The group won over a dozen awards on the road to the final, including six best actor awards and Eoghan Rua won an Adjudicator Prize for new writing.
In 2016 Eoghan Rua was commissioned by South East Radio to write and produce a radio drama to commemorate Wexford’s role in the 1916 Rising. In April 2016 Raven Theatre produced three one-act plays by Eoghan Rua as The Blackstairs Trilogy. It premiered in The Athenaeum, Enniscorthy then ran for four nights in the Wexford Arts Centre.
In December 2016 Eoghan’s first feature-length play Locomotive was produced by Raven Theatre in the National Opera House. In April 2017 Eoghan Rua received a National Arts Council Bursary for theatre. Eoghan Rua’s first professional production was the premiere of a new play entitled The Kill God in the National Opera House in August 2017. The Kill God was directed by Laura Way (Red Rock,
Eastenders, Blood) and included sold-out performances. In 2019 Eoghan was awarded a Wexford County Council bursary for the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Co.Monaghan.
Billy’s first plays as part of The Wexford Trilogy (A Handful of Stars, Poor Beast in the Rain and Belfry) have been produced worldwide to international acclaim. Productions of Amphibians, The Cavalcaders, On Such As We and Lay me Down Softly have also being produced nationally in the Abbey Theatre and internationally including RSC, Barbicon, Bush and Tricycle theatres London. Wexford Arts Centre produced Tales from Rainwater Pond also starring Billy which toured nationally and to New York as part of 1st Irish Theatre Festival at Irish Repertory Theatre. Wexford Arts Centre also produced Lay Me Down Softly which toured nationally and to Tricycle Theatre London and The Dog and Bone featured in a collection of short plays titled Wexfour commissioned by Wexford Arts Centre for its 45th Anniversary in 2014. Most recently A Love Like That produced by Decadent Theatre Company had a successful run as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2019. A production of The Cavalcaders directed by Kathy Burke is due to open in September in the Boulevard Theatre, London. Billy also wrote the book Tumbling Down and has written for film and TV including: Trojan Eddie, The Eclipse co-written with Conor McPherson (IFTA winner for best screenplay) and Clean Break for RTÉ. Billy is a member of Aosdána, an affiliation established by Arts Council Ireland to honour artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the creative arts in Ireland.
Ben Barnes is former Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre and the founding Artistic Director of the Opera Theatre Company which became the national touring opera company in Ireland. He is an award winning theatre and opera director on both sides of the Atlantic. His most recent productions include a new opera for the Opera Collective and the Crash Ensemble, Vagabones, an Irish National Opera production of Madama Butterfly which was also filmed by RTE and the six hour Eugene O’ Neill epic, Strange Interlude for the Second Eugene O’ Neill International Festival of Theatre. In the United States he most recently directed productions of Waiting for Godot , The Seafarer and The Crucible for Sandy Robbins at The Rep in Delaware and The Scourge at the Irish Repertory Theatre in association with Wexford Arts Centre as part of Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival in New York . Ben previously directed WexFour (Short plays by John Banville, Eoin Colfer, Billy Roche and Colm Tóibin) for Wexford Arts Centre which toured to Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris and to Lincoln Centre as part of the Origin 1st Irish Festival in New York in 2016. Ben’s book Plays and Controversies deals with his tenure as Artistic Director of the Abbey from 2000-2005. His new initiative, Four Rivers, providing theatre production
for the SE will be launched this Autumn with productions of Translations by Brian Friel and Blackbird by David Harrower.
Thomas teaches contemporary theatre at The Lir, National Academy of Dramatic Arts, Dublin, and is completing a Ph.D. at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. He is the editor of The Oberon Anthology of Contemporary Irish Plays. Thomas was dramaturg for Druid on Richard III, Waiting for Godot, DruidShakespeare: Richard II, Henry IV(Pts 1&2), Henry V and DruidMurphy –Plays by Tom Murphy. He was Druid’s Literary Manager from 2005–2015.Other dramaturgy credits include Painted Bird, Una McKevitt, Moonfish, Pan Pan, Fabulous Beast, Idle Motion, and Cups and Crowns. He received the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival Award for Best New Play for Between Trees and Water, with co-author Fiona McGeown.
Deirdre is an award winning playwright. She is an elected member of Aosdána, Ireland’s association of outstanding artists, Literary Associate with Meath County Council Arts Office and has served as a board member for the Abbey Theatre, Theatre Forum Ireland and the Stewart Parker Trust. Deirdre’s work is translated into many languages, published by Nick Hern Books and produced regularly in Ireland and on the International stage.
Her most recent play The Unmanageable Sisters, a Dublin retelling of Michael Tremblay’s play returned triumphantly twice to the Abbey Theatre. Previous recent playwriting credits include: Renewed starring Julie Walters as part of One Series of Monologues at the Old Vic, Rathmines Road for Fishamble as part of Dublin Theatre Festival, Crossings, Pentabus UK Tour, Piigs, Royal Court, Halycon Days winner of Fringe First, Edinburgh Festival and which also toured to Wexford Arts Centre.