Today, during the Belfast run of The Colleen Bawn, Druid Theatre Company and NUI Galway announced a new Druid Academy, to transform Drama and Theatre teaching in Ireland, as part of a 10 year partnership between the two organisations.
Part of the Centre for Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway, the Druid Academy covers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Drama, Theatre Studies and Performing Arts, as well as PhD research opportunities. The Druid Academy will provide training in drama that meets best international practice while also embedding the values associated with Druid Theatre into the teaching curriculum.
Borne out of a vision to create excellent theatre, teaching in the Druid Academy will follow the Druid approach, focusing on ensemble as a mode of performance, rigorous critical analysis of theatre, by both practitioners and audiences, and an awareness of the importance of audience, in a variety of locations: locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
Speaking at the launch of the Druid Academy, Professor Patrick Lonergan, Head of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway, said: “The Druid Academy allows us to bring the best of the University together with the best of the Irish theatre world. Druid have for many years showed that Galway can be a wonderful place to create theatre – and that it can be an ideal base to bring new Irish drama to audiences all over the world. By working with Druid, we will be able to foster new generations of theatre-makers and playwrights, who will change the way we produce drama in Galway, Ireland, and the world”.
Led by Tony Award-winning Director, Dr Garry Hynes, Druid staff will work alongside NUI Galway's Drama and Theatre scholars to provide world-class training in directing, design, playwriting, and many other areas of theatre studies.
In a partnership that will see close integration between Druid staff and NUI Galway Drama scholars, Dr Garry Hynes takes up the role of Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway, with Drama students benefitting from regular workshops and master classes with the renowned Theatre Director. The Druid Academy will also feature other Druid staff including the Druid Director-in-Residence, Thomas Conway. Thomas, a practising professional director and dramaturge, will have particular responsibility for developing the performance elements of the Druid Academy. The Druid Director-in-Residence will play a key role in building relationships between Druid staff and NUI Galway Drama and theatre students and in developing the practice and performance aspects of the Drama curriculum.
Attending the launch of the Druid Academy, Belfast-born actor, Marty Rea, did a dramatic reading of Lucy Caldwall’s LEAVES with NUI Galway Donegal student, Bridín Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh. Commenting on the benefits of the Druid Academy, Marty Rea said: “There is a beautiful legacy in the fact that Druid was a company founded in Galway, by NUI Galway students, and that it will be passing the baton on to new generations of theatre students in Galway - strengthening the endeavour of establishing Galway city as a centre of Irish and international theatre excellence.”
The Academy will also lead to the development of new courses, including three new MA programmes. These are in Irish Drama, Writing for Theatre, and Theatre Practice and Production. NUI Galway also offers a part-time MA in Drama and Theatre Studies, and has two very popular undergraduate Drama programmes.
Students of the Druid Academy will gain a unique insight into the world of professional theatre when they get the opportunity to stage an annual professional-standard production, directed by the Druid Director-in-Residence.
Artistic Director of Druid, Dr Garry Hynes, said: “This is a very significant relationship not just for Druid but for Irish Theatre generally. I am really looking forward to working with my colleagues both in Druid and NUI Galway in seeing this relationship flourish".
The relationship between NUI Galway and Druid is a long and fruitful one. The company was founded on campus in 1975 by graduates Marie Mullen, Garry Hynes and the late Mick Lally. Through the years the two organisations have collaborated at various times including notably the housing of the Druid archive at the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway and the establishment of a playwriting award in memory of the late Jerome Hynes who was General Manager of Druid at a formative stage in the company's development. The three founders, as well as being graduates, have all been awarded Honorary Degrees by the University.
Three years ago that relationship was formalised into a strategic partnership that saw Druid and NUI Galway join forces to train the next generation of theatre-makers. Today that partnership moves on to a new level with the announcement of the Druid Academy.
Commenting at the launch, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “The development of Drama and Theatre Studies represents a natural fit for NUI Galway given the vibrant theatre world in Galway. Our Drama and Theatre offering has gone from strength to strength thanks to a unique collaboration with world-class theatre-makers like Druid. The Druid Academy represents the culmination of a long and fruitful partnership between Druid and NUI Galway and provides our students with unique access to some of Ireland’s leading theatre-makers”.
Students interested in finding out more about programmes in the Druid Academy should visit: www.nuigalway.ie/drama