Announcement: New Board Members Appointed 

Clockwise from left to right: Andy Arnold, Rebecca Mairs, Dr. Barry Houlihan, Esosa Ighodaro and Shane O’Reilly.

Irish Theatre Institute is delighted to announce the appointment of five new Board Members to its Board of Directors.   

On Tuesday 16 April, Andy Arnold, Rebecca Mairs, Dr. Barry Houlihan and Esosa Ighodaro each assumed their duties as Board Members. Shane O’Reilly will step into his role as Board Member in August 2024.   

Each appointee brings a deep commitment to theatre and culture, an incredible set of skills and experience, and extraordinary enthusiasm to the role.  

The new appointees will join the existing Board in guiding and advancing the vision and mission of Irish Theatre Institute; in keeping theatre alive and thriving, as relevant and exciting today as it ever was.   

The new Board Members will join the newly appointed Chair, Lorraine Maye, and Board Members Jane Brennan, Padraic Ferry, Michelle Hoctor and Chris Morash.   

Lorraine May, Chair of Irish Theatre Institute said, ‘We are delighted to extend the warmest of welcomes to our new board members.  The role of Irish Theatre Institute (ITI) is to enable and champion the artistic ambitions of theatre artists, and to maximise creative opportunities and resources in an all-Ireland and international context.  It is a privilege to work alongside the board members of ITI and without doubt the experience, skills, knowledge and expertise Andy, Barry, Esosa, Rebecca and Shane bring will greatly support our work and commitment to keeping theatre alive and thriving, as relevant and exciting today as it ever has been.  

Damian Downes stepped down from ITI’s Board of Directors in January of this year after six years of service.  ITI’s board and team are very grateful for his time, energy, commitment and expertise, and particularly for his unparalleled guidance as Chair over the past five years. 

 Irish Theatre Institute (ITI) is an all-island resource organisation for theatre. Our strategic intent is to maximise creative opportunities and resources for theatre artists by building content, capacity and interest at home and abroad. Guardians of the tradition as well as a catalyst for change, ITI works collaboratively to shape our future.   

Biographies of new Irish Theatre Institute Board Members:   

Andy Arnold has spent most of his career running building-based theatre companies – mainly in Scotland.  He spent 17 years as Founder and Artistic Director of The Arches, Glasgow followed by 15 years as Artistic Director of Tron Theatre, Glasgow.  In both organisations he championed Irish theatre.  In 2012 he directed the world premier stage version of James Joyce’s Ulysses (adapted by Dermot Bolger) and has staged British and Scottish premieres of plays by Tom Murphy, Sebastian Barry, Enda Walsh, Brian Friel, Marie Jones, Beckett, O’Casey, and many more.  He has also worked in association and co-production with various Irish theatre companies and theatre artists.   Apart from making his own work, Andy has focused much of his time in developing opportunities for, and nurturing the talents of, emerging theatre makers. Andy now lives in Galway working as a freelance director and consultant in Ireland, Scotland, and internationally.  

Rebecca Mairs is a Development Executive and Dramaturg with over ten years’ experience in film, television and theatre development.  She currently works for the award-winning Kennedy Films across their slate of documentary, television drama, and feature film projects.  She was previously Literary Manager for the Lyric Theatre Belfast (The Stage’s UK Theatre of the Year 2023), where she managed their commissions and talent development initiatives, including five iterations of the New Playwrights Programme.   Past collaborations include: the Young Playwrights Programme with Fighting Words; Writing Without Borders with Rage Productions Mumbai; A Play for Ireland with Fishamble; Taking The Stage: Mexico with the British Council; and Film4/The Peggy Ramsay Foundation.  Rebecca sits on the Irish Theatre Institute’s Playography Advisory Panel and the Board of Commedia of Errors Theatre Company.  

Dr. Barry Houlihan is an Archivist at University of Galway, specialising in archives and heritage of Irish theatre. Barry has worked on the preservation and digitisation of numerous archives of Irish theatres and theatre companies, as well as curating various exhibitions on the history and practice of theatre in Ireland and internationally. Published works include the books Navigating Ireland’s Theatre Archive Theory, Practice, Performance (2019) and Theatre and Archival Memory: Irish Drama and Marginalised Histories 1951-1977(2021). Barry is a Committee member of the Irish Society for Theatre Research, the Irish Society for Archives, and is editor of the journal Irish Archives.  

Esosa Ighodaro is a Nigerian/Irish writer, director and vocalist. She makes work for stage and screen. Her work aims to highlight black talent and tell more varied stories of the black experiences in Ireland, using humour to explore more serious themes.  Esosa is a Resident Artist at Axis Arts Centre where she is developing new work over a 3 year residency. She is an Associate Artist with Civic Theatre, Tallaght where her work will focus on supporting more artists of colour to engage with the Irish Arts sector to create new work that speaks to their lived experience. Esosa is a 2024 Resident Director at the Abbey Theatre, where she is engaged in a programme to grow her craft and skillset as theatre director.  Esosa’s work for screen has been screened at film festivals across Ireland, US and Southern Africa, winning an audience choice award. Work for TV and film is currently in development.  

As a vocalist, Esosa works in a wide range of styles, in particular earning acclaim for her soulful renditions of traditional Irish music – soul ceol! She recorded her debut album You Won’t Believe It after touring extensively as a solo artist as well as a guest and backing vocalist. She has worked with a range of artists from local Gospel Choirs to Stevie Wonder.  

Shane O’Reilly, is an actor and a writer and is currently a resident artist at The Dean Arts Studio in Dublin. Shane has made a lot of work about and with the Deaf Community in Ireland which is inspired by his growing up as a proud CODA (Child of Deaf Adults).   

His recent theatre writing work includes: Gold in the Water (Project Arts Centre, Mermaid Arts Centre); Swansong (Barnstorm Theatre Company); Windowpane (The Abbey Theatre – Dear Ireland); The Water Boys (Equinox Theatre); Näher…closer, nearer, sooner (Liz Roche Company); FOLLOW, FARM and CARE (co-created with WillFredd Theatre) and The Matador (Fringe: Show in a Bag).   

Shane’s film writing and directing includes: The Water Boys (KCat), PAL (Culture Night 2020); Näher (co-created with Liz Roche and directed by Alan Gilsenan). He has worked as a dramaturg in both dance and theatre with Aisling Byrne (Run of the Mill), Jean Butler (What We Hold), Liz Roche (Dēmos, Here Trio), Emma Martin (Birdboy), Emma O’Kane (Jockey) and Paul Curley (Bake!) among others.  As an actor Shane has performed with The Abbey Theatre, The Gate Theatre, Rough Magic, Landmark, Barnstorm and Prime Cut along with many other Irish and international companies. 

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