Jo was an incredible person to know and work with, warm and kind, funny and fiercely intelligent. Jo worked with the Lyric Theatre in various guises as producer, playwright, drama studio director and dramaturg.
Lyric Drama Studio 2005 - 2006
In the early years of Lyric Drama Studio (under artistic director Paula McFetridge) a different director would run it each year. Jo ran it 2005 - 06, during which she produced and directed ‘Oedipus’ and ‘Royal Hunt of the Sun’. As with every element of her career, Jo’s vision was ambitious and her practice inclusive. She brought out the best in every participant and remained firm friends with many of them including Finn Kennedy and Bernadette Brown.
When Jo brought Madame Geneva to the Lyric in 2017, it was with the same tenacity and energy that she brought to everything in her life. Produced by Jo’s company Macha Productions, and starring Kerri Quinn and Tony Flynn, Madame Geneva charts the birth of capitalism in London and ends with the establishment of the Magdalen Asylum for Penitent Prostitutes in 1758, a model later transported to Ireland. It immersed the audiences into a ribald, Brechtian tale of gin and prostitution.
“Madame Geneva creates an exciting combination of prose, poetry and song. The issues it raises - from attitudes to women to sex to taxation - are very contemporary. The image of an orange towel-clad, shiny-chested William of Orange discussing politics in a sauna will be burnt into the retinas of everyone in the audience.” Alan in Belfast
In recent years, Jo supported the Literary department in the Lyric, working with and supporting both established and new writers through various workshops and rehearsed readings. Specifically Jo was the facilitator for the Lyric and Fighting Words Belfast’s The Right Twig programme in 2019, working with 6 talented young writers in Belfast (ages 14-16) to write new plays. Jo led in-depth writing sessions to help the young writers develop their new plays which were performed as part of the 21st Belfast Children’s Festival in the Lyric’s Naughton Studio.
She was a driving force behind the chapter of Waking the Feminists in the North of Ireland, giving generously of her time and wisdom. She consistently fought for women, a warrior for our rights, voices, stories and legacies. Jo connected many people throughout the arts and she has left an indelible mark upon us all.