Rough Magic announces COMPASS

Rough Magic announces COMPASS

Growing artists. Making plays.

COMPASS is a new development programme designed to provide opportunities for artists and plays, placing both at the centre of Rough Magic’s activities. Merging artist development and core programming in a radical new structure, the programme will assist in creating a portfolio of new work for production in the years coming up to – and beyond – the company’s 40th anniversary in 2024.

COMPASS is jointly supported by THE ARTS COUNCIL and THE LACKENDARRAGH BURSARY  a significant and generous donation from benefactor Seán Páircéir.

THE LACKENDARRAGH BURSARY will enable a schedule of development workshops, research trips, staged readings, residencies, and the support and employment of theatre professionals. Named after a house where artists once congregated to make work and generate ideas, the Bursary mirrors that idea of a creative space by providing funding for the research and development of new ideas, and support for Rough Magic’s core programme.

“Small encouragements can sometimes be a catalyst to great outcomes. The bursary is an opportunity to help support under-appreciated but essential elements of the creative process” says Seán Páircéir. “I am delighted to be able to contribute to the execution of Rough Magic’s exciting vision and am hopeful over time that this could be a model that others might consider”. 

COMPASS will offer:

  • Commissioning
  • Structured research and development plans
  • Mentorship
  • Professional development
  • Paid employment for artists

“Given Rough Magic’s long-term commitment to support for emerging talent, COMPASS will be a significant investment of resources and time in the future of Irish theatre,” said Artistic Director Lynne Parker. “Under our earlier SEEDS and ADVANCE programmes we connected with many of the new generation of theatre makers, who credit that engagement with helping them establish successful careers and forming partnerships with the company. That sense of partnership will be key to the new programme and we aim to support artists at every stage and across all theatre disciplines.

In 2020, Irish theatre has been turned on its head by the pandemic, and the many challenges it presented. This has nonetheless been a very productive year for the company, beginning with the Methuen publication of Rough Magic Theatre Company – New Irish Plays and Adaptations 2010-2018, edited by Patrick Lonergan. In August we were the first major company in Ireland to rehearse, open and successfully premiere a live performance under Covid-19 restrictions, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, produced in partnership with Kilkenny Arts Festival X at the Watergate Theatre. We have begun a new partnership with the Axis in Ballymun to co-produce the world premiere of Glue by Robbie O’Connor. These achievements and new horizons will enable us not just to survive, but thrive; and now COMPASS.

The key elements of COMPASS

Playwright COMMISSIONS 2021  

Commissions of six writers. Three leading writers, two of them for adaptations of classic European works. The writers are Marina Carr, Morna Regan and Hilary Fannin. Three writers who are recognised as powerful and significant new voices in Irish theatre and beyond – Shaun Dunne, Shane Mac an Bhaird and Erica Murray. 


An open call for ideas from writers and theatre artists who are interested in making work with Rough Magic. Selected participants will be awarded €1,000 to attend a series of meetings with the company’s creative team including the Artistic Director and Literary Manager. After 6 months artists will be invited to submit a treatment, or a draft if they wish, of their proposed idea. Ideas that have the potential to reach production with Rough Magic will be selected for commission; the remaining will be encouraged and supported by the company in applying for Arts Council Project Funding and other funding sources.

Literary Manager

A part-time Literary Manager will be appointed by the company to assist in forging and maintaining relationships with playwrights across the spectrum of the COMPASS programme. The company is delighted to reinstate this position.

SEEDS Apprenticeships

Since 2001 Rough Magic has been a pioneer of artist development in Irish theatre, through the SEEDS programme.  SEEDS  has been Ireland’s most comprehensive development programme over nineteen years; and now a new iteration will take the original concept into the next decade.

3 emerging/early-career artists across the disciplines of directing and design (sound, lighting, set and costume) will be placed with the company annually for a 12-month programme. Participants will be given desk space with the company, offered mentorship from the Rough Magic artistic team, support with their own independent projects and employment as paid assistants on a Rough Magic production.

Trainee Producer 

A 12-month part-time employment opportunity with the company for an early-career freelance theatre producer. The selected candidate will help coordinate COMPASS activities as well as assisting on Rough Magic productions as agreed, learning on the job. They will be provided with access to a desk, and mentorship and support for their own independent projects.


A system that provides artists with a schedule of development workshops, research trips, rehearsed and staged readings. ROUGH WORKS will facilitate the employment of a number of freelance directors, designers and actors as required, and allow each project to grow at its own pace. Supported by THE LACKENDARRAGH BURSARY.

Application process

The application process for all of the COMPASS strands (except the playwright commissions which are already under way) will be announced in early 2021.

Rough Magic welcome applications from everyone, and would like to encourage applications that are representative of Ireland’s artists in all their diversity – including but not limited to: people across the socio-economic spectrum, people of colour, members of the Traveller Community, people with disabilities and LGBTQI+ people.

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