SEEDS alumni

Launched in 2001, and an acknowledged leader of professional development in Irish theatre, the SEEDS programme has become an engine for the support and advancement of a new generation.

SEEDS stands for seek out – encourage – enable – develop – stage

The initiative began as a joint venture with Dublin Fringe Festival; our conversations led to the idea of a new platform to provide opportunities for emerging artists to establish and flourish.

The first round of SEEDS began by focusing on the development of new writing. Six writers were taken on in the pilot initiative, culminating in a showcase of rehearsed readings. Subsequently five full productions came from that first round – two as Rough Magic shows. This was enormously encouraging, and when we came to consider the next incarnation it was clear that the programme could become more comprehensive. So it was expanded, first to include directors and then to all the creative disciplines within theatre. The participants formed ensembles over two years and delivered many memorable showcase productions. Creative relationships began within, and continued beyond, the SEEDS programme.

An impressive number of SEEDS graduates have gone on to make a significant contribution to the professional theatre sector, and continue to work with Rough Magic.

Of the 51 who have completed the programme over 50% have been directly employed by Rough Magic and over 85% are currently working as full time theatre professionals.

The new SEEDS apprenticeships programme is part of Compass.

SEEDS Success

SEEDS Alumni – Work with Rough Magic


SEEDS introduced us to new creative colleagues and to the many actors who worked with them.

Matt Torney, Sophie Motley, Aoife Spillane-Hinks, José Miguel Jiménez, and Tom Creed have all directed full productions for the company.

Tom Creed was our first Associate Director and for four years directed productions for Rough Magic and curated SEEDS. As Associate Producer Cian O’Brien also curated SEEDS and produced work for the company; Matt Torney and Sophie Motley also made work for Rough Magic as Associate Directors. All our associate directors have been nominated for Irish Times Theatre Awards. Conor Hanratty’s showcase was nominated for Best Production. Rosemary McKenna was nominated for Best Director.

Ronan Phelan is currently Associate Director of Rough Magic; he was nominated for Best Director in the 2019 Theatre Awards for Much Ado About Nothing and continues to work as a director on new projects for the company.

Plays by SEEDS writers Rosemary Jenkinson, Ioanna Anderson, Gerald Murphy, Bryan Delaney, Mark Cantan and Shane Mac an Bhaird have been produced by Rough Magic.

Shane Mac an Bhaird and Shaun Dunne have just been commissioned under COMPASS.

Award-winning Designers Sarah Jane Shiels, and Zia Bergin-Holly, have worked on a number of Rough Magic productions, as have Cameron McCauley and Deirdre Dwyer; Sarah Jane most recently with Hecuba 2019, and Zia most recently with Solar Bones in 2020.

Composer Danny Forde is currently commissioned by the company to collaborate on a new piece on choral singing.

SEEDS Alumni – Work Beyond


SEEDS continue to work nationally and internationally.

Cian O’Brien is Artistic Director at Project Arts Centre, where he supports the work of many leading and emerging artists.

Sophie Motley and Sarah Jane Shiels set up the award-winning Willfredd Theatre company; Sophie then served as Artistic Director of Pentabus Theatre in the UK and has just been appointed Artistic Director of the Everyman Theatre in Cork.

Matt Torney was Associate Artistic Director at the Studio Theatre, Washington, and is now Artistic Director of Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta Georgia.

Tom Creed and Conor Hanratty are established directors in opera; José Miguel Jiménez in theatre, film and AV.

Zoe Ní Riordáin makes theatre as a director, musician and writer.

Producer Lara Hickey makes work with THISISPOPBABY and also produces film; Matt Smyth works as an independent producer for several major companies including Anu and Dead Centre.

Production Manager Marty Moore has worked at the National Theatre of Great Britain, the Royal Court and now as a leading independent production manager. Eoin Kilkenny now produces for a number of independent artists.

Sound Designer/Composer Alma Kelliher, collaborated on riverrun with Olwen Fouéré and on Riot with THISISPOPBABY; Sinéad Diskin has designed and composed for the Gate, Anu and Landmark. Alyson Cummins has made award-winning work for the Lyric in Belfast. Molly O’Cathain has worked on the Abbey and Lyric stages and continues to make work with her own company MALAPROP.

Ray Scannell, Lee Coffey, Stacey Gregg and Lisa McGee have won major awards in theatre and television. Oonagh Kearney is now an emerging film maker.

"SEEDS was a really transformative process at a crucial stage in my formation as a theatre maker. It gave me the confidence to really call myself a director, opened my eyes to new ways of working, and provided me with vital skills in all areas of my theatre practice."

Tom Creed, Theatre Director, SEEDS 03-04

"For me, the SEEDS Programme opened up a whole new world in terms of how I might contribute to the Irish Theatre Industry. It allowed me the opportunity, supported by the company and my amazing mentors at home and abroad, to explore the role of the theatre producer and to establish myself as a young professional with confidence, skill and experience."

Lara Hickey, Independent Producer, SEEDS 08-09