The Mavens

The Mavens is a female-centric, mentored playwright development programme facilitated by the dlr Mill Theatre in partnership with the Writers Guild of Ireland Project Facilitator and Dramaturg, Pamela McQueen.

The Mavens seeks to explore the representation of aging women from menopausal age onwards in canonical and contemporary playwriting forms. We explore ways in which the mother figure, the non-conformist queer female and the mythic icon female can be reconfigured through an active aging lens.

The Mavens Programme is supported by the Arts Council through the Arts Grant fund. The programme connects established female playwrights with mid-career playwrights. This is an essential connection as mid-career playwrights negotiate the moment when, historically, women artists experience decline between emerging and established careers. It also allows the playwrights to critically reflect on their own female character voices and any internalised self-censorship acquired through working in patriarchal hegemonies.


  • Kate Canning: Artistic Director and Co-Ordinator of the Mavens Programme
  • Pamela McQueen: Project Facilitator and Dramaturg
  • Writers Guild of Ireland: recruitment of participants, advice & support

Playwright Mentors

  • Noelle Browne
  • Deirdre Kinahan
  • Michelle Read
  • Gina Moxley

Mavens 2022

  • Lesley Conroy
  • Dee Roycroft
  • Elizabeth Moynihan
  • Ciara Elizabeth Smyth

Mavens 2023

  • Una Kavanagh
  • Clare Monnelly
  • Gillian Grattan
  • Katie Holly

Mavens 2024

  • Aisling O’Mara
  • Katie McCann
  • Collette Cullen
  • Joanne Ryan

The Mavens is an initiative to create a positive policy measure, promoting equal opportunity and access for playwrights of an age and gender that have historically been underserved in the Irish Theatre ecology. As a theatre that regularly produces Shakespeare from the white colonial patriarchal canon, the focus on gender and age ensures diversity in our artistic activities.

This project seeks to upskill, encourage and empower later age female playwrights. We create space for those returning to practise after leaving due to systemic unconscious bias or caring career breaks. The paid structure of this programme is cognisant of reduced socio-economic status due to the inequity of care work of many older female artists. We include travel costs to ensure that location is not a deterrent to applicants. We take other measures to increase accessibility too, including transferring a number of sessions online.

Both the Mavens Programme and the Mavens Lab are supported by the Arts Council.