Acting academy to include theatre


A COMBINED drama education centre and theatre is to be established on the National University of Ireland campus at Maynooth.

The centre will house a new national training academy for the performing arts and is being set up by the Cathal Ryan Trust, in conjunction with the university.

The late Cathal Ryan had set up the trust to part-fund the project, which will require additional funding from the university and other potential patrons. A drama academy development company set up to oversee the project plans to seek the support of Kildare County Council.

The public theatre will have a seating capacity of 450 to 600, while the academy will include a student theatre space, tutorial rooms, rehearsal and training studios, offices and media/sound facilities.

A winning design following an architectural competition will be announced in coming weeks.

The announcement follows the recent Forum on Acting report which recommended the setting up of an Irish academy of theatre arts. The forum was set up in the wake of controversy surrounding the dropping by Trinity College of its undergraduate degree course in acting.

Minister for the Arts Martin Cullen is due to set up a working group to explore the forum's report.

Mr Ryan's daughter Danielle, an actor who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) in London, said her father also had a passion for theatre. "We both hoped that, with collaboration from experienced theatre professionals, we could help develop an Irish Academy for dramatic arts, which will benefit everyone working in Irish theatre."

The Ryan Maynooth Centre will feature a number of higher diploma, MA and MFA post-graduate programmes evolving from those provided by the university.

Cathal Ryan, a son of Ryanair co-founder Tony Ryan, died last December aged 48.