seek out – encourage – enable – develop – stage.


Since 2001 Rough Magic has been the pioneer of artist development in Irish theatre, through its SEEDS programme for emerging artists – based on mentoring, research and creative engagement. SEEDS has been Ireland’s premiere development programme for the past nineteen years; we now intend to design a new iteration to take us into the next decade.


The intention is to combine the SEEDS and ADVANCE programmes and offer support to artists across the spectrum of experience. In addition, we want to build on our success in forming a hub for artists and companies who benefit from the interaction within a shared space. We will continue to bring artists such as Ronan Phelan, Sarah Jane Shiels, Zia Bergin-Holly and many other former SEEDS into full Rough Magic productions; as we have done with former participants of ADVANCE (our development programme for mid-career artists) such as Rob Furey, Olwen Fouere, Peter Daly, Sonya Kelly and Denis Clohessy. An impressive number of graduates of the programme have gone on to make a significant contribution to the professional theatre sector and many continue to work with Rough Magic. So far there have been more than 50 SEEDS participants. Over 50% have been directly employed by Rough Magic and over 85% are currently working as full-time theatre professionals.


The new programme will be announced in December 2020 with the call for submissions in January 2021; the twentieth anniversary year of SEEDS.



SEEDS Success

Ronan Phelan has been appointed Associate Director of Rough Magic and has directed for the company The Effect, A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man and Much Ado About Nothing. Associate Director Sophie Motley is now Artistic Director of Pentabus Theatre in the UK.

Tom Creed was our first Associate Director and for four years curated the SEEDS programme. He recently worked on a new opera project with Donncha Dennehy at BAM in New York was Director of the Midsummer Festival in Cork and later this year will direct for Irish National Opera. Former Associate Producer Cian O’Brien is Artistic Director at Project Arts Centre, where he programmes the work of many leading and emerging artists.

A number of graduates base themselves overseas including former Associate Director Matt Torney who is now Associate Artistic Director at the Studio Theatre, Washington and Marty Moore who has worked as Deputy Production Manager at the National Theatre of Great Britain and now as Production Manager for the Royal Court Theatre, London. Rosemary McKenna is Associate Director for Actors Touring Company UK and has recently worked as Staff Director at the National Theatre of Great Britain.

Our recent production of Melt by Shane Mac an Bhaird was designed by award-winning Set and Lighting Designer Zia Holly. Zia is now an  Associate Designer with Pan Pan. This year our productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Portrait of an Artist as A Young Man will feature set and lighting design by award-winning Designer Sarah Jane Shiels.

The company produced Rosemary Jenkinson’s The Bonefire in 2006, Mark Cantan’s Jezebel in 2014 and Shaun Dunne is currently under co-commission with Rough Magic and Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray. Aoife Spillane Hinks, Jose Miguel Jimenez, Matt Torney, Tom Creed and Sophie Motley have all directed professional productions for the company.

Producer SEEDS continue to make work that tours nationally and internationally. Lara Hickey was Associate Producer at the Abbey Theatre and recently produced for Thisispopbaby at The Complex. Matt Smyth is producer for several award-winning companies including ANU, Dead Centre and Collapsing Horse Theatre.

The programme’s alumni also include award-winning designers; Sound Designer/Composer Alma Kelliher, who collaborated on riverrun with Olwen Fouere and Riot for Thisispopbaby. Deirdre Dwyer designed costumes for Jezebel.

Meanwhile, ex-SEEDS continue to make work with the most dynamic companies around, such as Malaprop, The Company, Talking Shop Ensemble, Then.This, White Label Collective and WillFredd (an award-winning company formed out of SEEDS by Sarah Jane Shiels and Sophie Motley).

Stacey Gregg won the 2016 Irish Times Award for Best New Play.

The recent Channel 4 hit series Derry Girls is written by ex-SEED Lisa McGee

"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