The Resident Directors for 2024 – Esosa Ighodaro, John King, Lianne O’Shea and James Riordan – began their year-long journey with the Abbey Theatre in January 2024. Six months later, we checked in with the team to see how they’re getting on. 

Lianne O’Shea: “Yeats issued a challenge – “to rediscover an art of the theatre, which shall be joyful, fantastic, extravagant, whimsical, beautiful, resonant and altogether reckless” – it’s written on a post-it note above my desk in the Abbey – it’s to remind me that as much as this year is about reflecting on my practise so far and coming to understand myself more as an artist it is also about pushing out into new areas, developing strengths in areas of the work that I would not have had experience in previously.  The masterclasses and mentoring as part of this programme, in addition to working alongside a range of talented and generous artists has been key to developing my craft further, as well as shaping my outlook towards the future as a director working in Ireland and beyond.” 

Esosa Ighodaro: “What has been particularly enriching for me, has been getting to talk in depth about theatre directing with such inspirational and creative people – and not just with the visiting Directors, but with my fellow Resident Directors as well. I am repeatedly blown away by all the brilliance I’m surrounded by and I look forward to the work that will come out of this.” 

John King:It’s been invaluable. Sharing an office in the building, and time with each other, as we work on our separate projects, has made a huge difference to my practice. The development opportunities have been great – in particular, our international mentors who have been so generous with their insights and processes.” 

James Riordan:So far, the experience has been a positive one, particularly the international director workshops we have had throughout the year and getting to know the many great people in the organisation while learning how such a large institution works. Sharing an office with the other Resident Directors has been brilliant, it’s a lovely, talented and varied group and sharing this time with them, chatting theatre and supporting each other with our respective projects and ideas has been class.” 

One of the highlights of the Residency is that the directors take up the position of Assistant Director on an Abbey production during the year. To date, Lianne has Assistant Directed Children of the Sun, Esosa has Assistant Directed The Sugar Wife, John has Assistant Directed The Quare Fellow and Audrey or Sorrow, and James has Assistant Directed Na Peirsigh / Persians and is the Assistant Director on the Abbey’s forthcoming production of Grania 

Esosa Ighodaro, James Riordan, Laura Keefe, Emma Rice, Lianne O’Shea and John King. 

This experience is further bolstered by desk space for one year at the Abbey, mentoring and monthly meetings with the Associate Director, quarterly meetings with the Artistic Director, training and development sessions with Voice and Text Director at the Abbey, four international directors’ masterclasses in 2024 – including with Emma Rice, pictured above – a sponsored weekend trip to an international theatre festival and more. 

If you’d like more information on the Resident Director programme, click here.