Youth Theatre Ireland Team

Director—Michelle Carew

Michelle has been Director of Youth Theatre Ireland since 2011. Email:



General Manager—Shelley Troupe

Shelley maintains the organisation's finances and the overall administration of the office. She also assists with the management of the work programme. She looks after website management and manages internal and external communications with members and other organisations.  She worked for many years in New York City for Broadway and off-Broadway producers including serving as General Manager of the Irish Repertory Theatre. Email: 

Youth Theatre Officer—Alan King

Alan supports the sustained artistic development of youth theatres through the development of resources, training, support and advice. Alongside Rhona, Research and Development Officer, he also provides guidance and support to emerging youth theatres. Alan co-ordinates the Young Critics Programme and Playshare/Perform YT. He also produces the National Youth Theatre. Alan has worked as an actor and director and is a former member of Dublin Youth Theatre. Email:


Research and Development Officer—Rhona Dunnett

Rhona is Youth Theatre Ireland's Research and Development Officer. She supports youth theatres in working to identify local structures, agencies and partners at a county and local level, and develops measures to support their sustainability. She carries out a range of research including the major audit of youth theatre in Ireland, Centre Stage +10 (2009). Rhona also co-ordinates Youth Theatre Ireland's International Programme.  Rhona is a former member of Activate Youth Theatre, Cork. Email:


National Training Co-ordinator—Dave Kelly

Dave develops and co-ordinates the implementation of the national training strategy for youth drama, which is delivered regionally and locally. Training programmes include ArtsTrain and Leading On..., Youth Theatre Ireland's Leader Training Programme. Dave is a former member of Dublin Youth Theatre. Email:


Child Protection and Welfare Officer—Louise Holian

Louise is responsible for managing all Child Protection and Welfare aspects of our work including acting as the information point for our members on all matters welfare related and as Liaison Person for the Youth Theatre Ireland Garda Vetting Consortium. Louise was a member of Galway Youth Theatre. Email:

Special Projects OfficerBarry Morgan

 As part of Creative Ireland’s "Creative Youth Strategy",  Barry supports the development of new youth theatres in Westmeath, Offaly and Dublin. His work includes guiding and training youth theatre management and providing accredited training for drama facilitators. Barry is one half of Tailtiu Theatre, Co-Artistic Director of Mosney Youth Theatre, and is a former member of Droichead Youth Theatre. Email:

Youth Theatre Ireland Board of Directors

Chairperson: Jen Coppinger—Independent Theatre Producer (appointed February 2012)
Jen is Producer for a number of other artists and companies including Dylan Tighe, TheEmergencyRoom, Emma Martin Dance, HotForTheatre, Sean MacErlaine and Ray Scannell. In 2013, for HotForTheatre, she produced Break as well as a national and international tour of HotFortheatre – HotForTouring. She also produced riverrun by Olwen Fouéré (a Galway Arts Festival/TheEmergencyRoom co-production). This was presented at the Galway Arts Festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival & The National Theatre, London. Jen is currently Project Manager for the Irish Laureate for Fiction. Previously Jen worked with Arts Audiences, Irish Theatre Institute, City Arts Centre, Dublin Writers Festival, RADE (Recovery through Art, Drama and Education), and The Abbey Theatre. She sits on the board of RADE, Dublin Fringe Festival and Youth Theatre Ireland. Jen is Independent Producer in Residence at Rough Magic Theatre Company. Jen became Chairperson of Youth Theatre Ireland in 2017.

Secretary: Máire O'Higgins—Independent (appointed April 2016)
Máire O'Higgins is an Assistant Principal, Chaplain and Partnerships Coordinator at Larkin Community College Dublin. She has worked in the inner-city for 26 years. For six years Máire established and ran a unique three-year specialist arts education Junior Cycle programme. It was the first dedicated learning through arts schools programme in the State. Máire worked as a Theatre Director with Passion Machine Theatre Company and is a founding member of Pigsback Theatre Company.

Máire holds a BA in Italian and English, an MA in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, a PostGrad in Entrepreneurial Education and a PostGrad in Educational Leadership. She is also a trained mindfulness in schools teacher. Máire is currently on the Boards of Localise Youth and Community, Encountering The Arts Ireland – ETAI - and Youth Theatre Ireland. Máire is passionate about reform of the second level Irish education system and creative engagement.

Sarah Bragg-Bolger—Dublin Youth Theatre (appointed June 2019)
Sarah serves as General Manager of Dublin Youth Theatre.

Leish Burke--Griese Youth Theatre (apporinted June 2019)
Leish is Artistic Director of Griese Youth Theatre.

Emer Casey--Mr. Sand Youth Theatre (appointed April 2018)
Originally from Derry, Emer Casey is Artistic Director of Mr. Sands Youth Theatre in Bray, and Senior Drama Teacher with Wicklow-based Action Arts.  She fervently believes that drama offers a haven and the means and space for young people to grow as individuals, not just artistically, but personally and socially too. She feels the Youth Theatre model, in particular, provides the ideal environment for this to happen. Emer was a co-founder of and facilitator with Boolabus Youth Theatre. She is also an examiner with the Irish Board of Speech & Drama and an experienced drama adjudicator. She is Convener of the Michael Chekhov Studio Dublin. As a professional actor, she has has worked on stage, TV and film productions and is also an accomplished voice-over artist. Emer holds a BA in English & Philosophy (TCD), a Postgraduate Certificate in Secondary Education (QUB), Associate & Licentiate Diplomas in Drama Teaching (RIAM), Advanced Acting & Facilitator Certification (Michael Chekhov International Academy), amd a Certificate of Family Celebrancy (IIOC).

Eimear Cheasty--County Carlow Youth Theatre (appointed April 2017)
Eimear Cheasty is a writer, youth arts facilitator and yoga teacher form Waterford City. She is passionate about empowering young people to explore their own creativity in a fun and supportive environment. Eimear runs the creative writing programme for Waterford Youth Arts and co directs County Carlow Youth Theatre as well as freelancing for other youth projects around the country. Her last play How To Live premiered in VISUAL, Carlow in September 2016, and she is currently working on a collection of short stories to be published in 2018.

Emelie FitzGibbon—Graffiti Theatre Company (appointed April 2007)
Emelie FitzGibbon is the founder (1984) and Artistic Director of Graffiti Theatre Company in Cork, a company dedicated to work for and by young people. The many productions she has directed  have been seen in Ireland, the UK, France, Sweden and the USA. As a lecturer and educator on Educational Drama and Theatre she has worked with post-grads, teachers and youth leaders in Sweden, Malta, the US, UK,  Austria, Hong Kong, Korea and the Czech Republic and has published and edited many contributions to the field.

Fionn Woodhouse - Lightbulb Youth Theatre (appointed November 2014)
Fionn Woodhouse is a director, producer and facilitator of drama/theatre with particular interest in youth participation and learning through practice. Fionn is an active educational drama practitioner, having trained and worked with Graffiti Educational Theatre Company for over 14 years. During this time he has co designed and facilitated various programmes including anti racism/bullying, UCC Plus+ Drama Workshops, CIT Access Workshops, etc. He currently works in UCC's Drama and Theatre Studies Department. With a strong interest in youth theatre, Fionn is the Artistic Director of Lightbulb Youth Theatre and Footlights Youth Theatre, and a founder member of With an ‘F’ Productions theatre company that has toured shows both nationally and internationally. He was a former member of Activate Youth Theatre, Cork.

Niall Cleary - Activate Youth Theatre (appointed April 2016)
Niall is head of Outreach and Education with Graffiti Theatre Company.  He previously held the position of Artistic Director of Droichead Youth Theatre and worked as an associate director and facilitator with Galway Youth Theatre.  He has also directed productions for a range of Youth Theatres including Sligo, Play and Fracture in Tipperary,  Roundabout and Backstage Youth Theatre.  Niall worked as an professional actor and state manager for many years. He was a founder member of  Decadent Theatre Company.  He has worked as an outreach facilitator with the Abbey Theatre and sat on the board of the Galway Theatre Festival.  He holds a BA in English and History from UL and a Professional Diploma in Education from NUIG.  He trained as a drama facilitator on ArtsTrain in association with Youth Theatre Ireland.

Antonia McTaggart - Independent (appointed June 2018)

Kate Ferris - Independent (appointed June 2017)
Kate is programmer for Young Radicals: Fringe for Kids with Dublin Fringe Festival, producer working with Collapsing Horse and Head of Stage Management at The Lir Academy, Dublin.

From 2013 to 2016 she was Company Producer for WillFredd Theatre. Throughout this time she produced five productions: Care (Project Arts Centre 2014, National Tour 2016), Follow (Peacock 2014), Jockey (Dublin Dance Festival 2015), Bees! with The Ark (Dublin Theatre Festival 2015, Spring 2016). Kate previously produced the national and international tour of Solpadeine Is My Boyfriend (With An F Productions).

Since 2013, Kate has been Head of Stage Management in The Lir Academy. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Technical Production and Stage Management) at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, and worked as a Production, Stage and Event Manager with Australian companies and festivals including C!RCA, Queensland Theatre Company, LaBoite Theatre Company, Brisbane Festival, Malthouse Theatre Company and David Atkins Enterprises (15th Asian Games, Doha, Qatar).

Since relocating to Ireland, Kate has worked as Company Stage Manager with The National Theatre of Scotland, The Gate Theatre, Opera Ireland, Pan Pan Theatre Company, Fishamble Theatre Company and The Corn Exchange.

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03 April