• New Playwrights of 2019

The Lyric Theatre and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2019 New Playwrights Programme, a six-month writing development programme, aimed at emerging playwrights to create new work.  This year, following a high level of interest, six writers were awarded a place on the programme; Annie Keegan, Clare McMahon, Clare Monnelly, Rian Smith, Ross Wylie and Sarah Gordon.

As part of the programme, the six writers will now develop their ideas over the next six months with the Lyric’s Literary Manager, Rebecca Mairs.  The new works will be brought to life by on stage at the Lyric Theatre in autumn 2019 by professional actors and directors.

Meet the Playwrights of 2019

Find out more about the shortlisted writers, and their journeys to the Lyric New Playwrights Programme below.


Sarah is an artist and writer from Belfast. Her first play A Sinkhole in Guatemala, premiered at Dublin Fringe 2016 (nominated Best Performer, shortlisted for the Stewart Parker Award), and later at BIAF. She co-created and directed BILLY, for Dublin Fringe 2018, (nominated Spirit of Wit Award), coming to the MAC May 2019. Sarah has been a Reveal artist with Prime Cut since 2016, and is a writer with Belfast Voices – a drama development programme run by BBC Writersroom. She is currently developing a new play called Road about looking busy – a rehearsed reading was presented in the MAC in Jan 2019. She is also developing a new play for children about losing things, called Mr Gumpy’s Grump Jars.


Annie is a Galway-based playwright, originally from Dublin. She studied Drama and English in Trinity College, and afterwards pursued an MA in Playwriting and Dramaturgy in NUI Galway. Whilst in college she wrote multiple short plays for the drama societies, and was University Times’ Deputy Theatre Editor.  Since she completed her MA she has had one work-in-progress staged in the 2018 Scene and Heard Festival: Gonne will receive a full production in May 2019. She also presented Down the Drain at Dublin Fringe Festival with my company Unamused Theatre.


Belfast-based Clare trained as an actor at Central School of Speech & Drama and has worked in theatres across the UK & Ireland including The Michael Grandage Company (West End), The Almeida, Greenwich Theatre & The Mac. In 2017 she wrote her first play Shakespeare’s Women which sold out its run in the Lyric before touring NI. In 2018 she was awarded the Patricia Leggett Scholarship to attend the Lir Academy’s MFA Playwriting. She was one of Fishamble Theatre Company’s ‘A Play for Ireland’ artists and is currently writing a new play for young audiences – Saoirse the Sea Pirate – with the mentorship of Anna Newell and funded by Arts Council Ireland.  She is one half of Commedia of Errors Theatre Company and this May her new one-woman play I Am Maura will open in the Lyric’s Naughton before touring NI.


Clare is a writer and actor based in Dublin. Her first play Charlie’s a Clepto, produced by axis Ballymun and directed by Aaron Monaghan, was nominated for two Irish Times Theatre Awards and the Stewart Parker Trust New Playwright Bursary, and has received Arts Council Touring funding for Spring 2019  She is currently a member of Irish Theatre Institute’s Six in the Attic Programme, and has been awarded the Tilestyle Jim McNaughton Artists Bursary 2017, the Stewart Parker Trust New Dramaturgical Bursary 2018, the Dublin City Council Tyrone Guthrie Residency 2018, and most recently a Dublin City Council Arts Grant 2019 towards the production of my second play Minefield which will be presented in September this year in association with axis Ballymun.  She was a judge for the Dublin Fringe Festival 2017 and took part in Theatre Forum and Dublin Theatre Festival’s The Next Stage 2017.


Rían is a graduate of the National Film School of Ireland having received a BA in Screenwriting. His graduate short film, Robbie the Rabbit, has played internationally at festivals and won numerous awards. Since then, he has worked in many story departments for film and theatre, both in Ireland and in New York. However, Rían has always had a strong love of theatre, from seeing am-dram at a young age, to working front-of-house at The Gate Theatre in Dublin. This is his first full-length play.


Originally from NI, Ross is a playwright, performer and drama facilitator who has created work for Only Skin and Queer Theory in Glasgow: sharing poetry, stand-up and theatre that explores the challenges of contemporary gay life. He has received support from Only Skin and Glasgow Connected Arts Network (GCAN) to develop Dan, Just Dan – a solo theatre piece showcasing an awkward gay man obsessed with James Bond. This was performed as part of the Glasgow International Festival at The Poetry Club. He has performed in Modest Predicament’s Erin, Errol and the Earth Creatures, an environmental-themed play for children at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He works at Live Theatre in Newcastle Upon Tyne as Creative Lead for children and young people’s creative writing workshops: Live Tales. He was part of Pride Plays, an LGBTQI new writing festival produced by Shift Theatre Scotland and the Traverse Theatre.