Strange isn’t it. Keen as I am to write about performing arts training in Ireland, I don’t hear much about it. And then, hey presto, like those proverbial buses, two stories come along in a week — although this one is from the Republic of Ireland as opposed to Northern Ireland where Replay Theatre Company, which I mentioned last week, is based.
For many years, potential Irish actors and other performers have bemoaned the lack of training opportunities in their own country which is why you find so many Irish students in UK drama schools.
Affiliated to RADA, The Lir is offering a three-year Bachelor in Acting course and each student had to undergo the usual series of auditions and interviews that began last November before securing his or her place - which is not based on the Irish equivalent of UCAS points. The academy will also offer a masters degree in Fine Art in playwriting, theatre directing, and stage and lighting design.
With Loughlin Deegan, currently artistic director of Dublin Theatre Festival as Principal, The Lir has just announced that some of the classes will be taught by well known Irish performers such as Colin Farrell, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Day Lewis, Colm Meaney and Saoirse Ronan. These ‘ambassadors’ for The Lir will, I gather make contributions to course content too.
Other leading lights of Irish literature, film, television and stage are also on board — including film-maker Jim Sheridan, writer Sebastian Barry, actor Alan Stanford and playwright Conor McPherson.
The Lir is the first theatre school in Ireland to grant degrees and diplomas. And, as for all other university courses in Ireland, tuition fees are paid by the State so I bet there’s many a UK student or would-be student feeling very envious.