Mayo graduate awarded first Yeats Design Residency

Lydia Concannon at the Abbey Theatre.
Lydia Concannon at the Abbey Theatre.


Mayo graduate Lydia Concannon is to get the opportunity of a lifetime after being selected to take up the first annual Yeats Design Residency at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, part of a new innovative partnership between the national theatre and IT Sligo.

 Lydia (22) who has just completed the four year honours Performing Arts programme at the Institute is set to begin the six month residency in September.

She and a number of senior staff from IT Sligo visited the Abbey Theatre today (Thursday, June 21) to meet with technical director Gavin Harding, and a number of production staff.

The visit marked the beginning of an exciting partnership which will nurture the talent of young Theatre Design students in the Institute’s Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Performing Arts.

A native of Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, Lydia  said she was “ecstatic” when she learned that she been selected for the residency which will see her working with world-class directors, designers and production staff on a range of productions in the Abbey and Peacock Theatres.  As part of the memorandum of understanding signed recently by the Institute and the theatre, a series of work placement opportunities and collaboration on student projects have also been agreed.

 “I am really looking forward to September”, said Lydia who was selected after she and her class mates were invited to design a set for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the Abbey. The Mayo student   used ghost estates as the inspiration for her set.

“The thing I enjoyed most about the Performing Arts programme was the fact that many of our lecturers worked in the business themselves and had first-hand experience,” said Lydia.  “If we asked a question about any aspect of working in the theatre, they knew the answer because of their own experiences,” she explained.

As well as theatre design, Lydia is interested in working on children’s arts projects. One of her college placements while on the IT Sligo course was at The Model arts centre Sligo where she worked on “The Big Draw”, an arts and play initiative for toddlers and parents.  She is spending the summer working as an intern for London-based jewellery designer and painter Andrew Logan.

Fiach MacConghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre has welcomed the partnership with IT Sligo.  He said: ‘The Abbey Theatre’s founders were committed to the importance of design in the national theatre. We are committed to ensuring the healthy future of that tradition by nurturing young theatre makers. This partnership gives young set designers an insight into the professional business of theatre. Many set designers go abroad to hone their craft. We must keep young theatre makers in Ireland by offering them support and opportunities. When I visited IT Sligo, I was struck by the sheer talent on display and the quality of the teaching which is world-class’.

President of IT Sligo, Professor Terri Scott, also welcomed the   formalising of the association with the Abbey. “It’s fitting that two of WB Yeats’s greatest passions – the Abbey Theatre and Sligo – should come together in a partnership that fosters creativity”.

Frank Conway, who is a lecturer on the IT Sligo Performing Arts programme, is a former Head of Design at the Abbey Theatre and was instrumental in the development of the partnership. The programme is the only full time degree programme in Ireland which specialises in theatre design. It has been running since 2006. To find out more click here.



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