16 Nov 2021

The Mavens

This may be the paid opportunity with a writing peer group you didn’t know you were looking for.

More about The Mavens

Are you a woman who has written for the stage before? Have you taken a career break? Gotten side tracked by caring responsibilities? Not seen a woman like yourself older and bolder onstage in a while? This may be the paid opportunity with a writing peer group you didn’t know you were looking for.

Introducing a new playwright professional development programme providing career support for female identifying writers aged 35+. In a small peer group writers will be paid to explore, through reading and discussion, representation of older female characters on stage with dramaturg Pamela McQueen.

Established Irish female playwrights, Michelle Read, Gina Moxley, Noelle Brown and Deirdre Kinahan will facilitate a group class and one individual mentorship meeting for each participant.

The program includes a paid writing week to create some text and some explorative discussion with the dramaturg to outline a new play. These ideas will be shared in a final session with your fellow playwright participants.


The Mavens is a female centric mentored playwright development program that seeks to explore the representation of aging women from menopausal age onwards in canonical and contemporary playwriting forms. We will explore how the mother figure, the non-conformist queer female and the mythic icon female can be reconfigured through an active aging lens.

Pilot Programme

The program will connect established female playwrights with mid-career, middle aged playwrights as they negotiate the moment when historically women artists experience decline between emerging and established careers. It will also allow through practice the playwrights to critically reflect on their own female character voices and any internalised self-censorship acquired through working in patriarchal hegemonies.


Kate Canning: Theatre Manager and Co-Ordinator of The Mavens Programme

Pamela McQueen: Project Facilitator and Dramaturg

Irish Writers Guild: recruitment of participants, advice & support


Pamela McQueen is currently Project Lead & Dramaturg The Baptiste Programme for black Irish theatre makers in Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. She is also project lead on the Dramaturgy Now mentorship project for Dramaturgs Network Ireland. She was New Play Dramaturg at The New Theatre, Dublin 2017-2020. She regularly delivers dramaturgical mentorships for various local arts office across the country and Arts & Disability, Ireland.

Pamela is currently researching dramaturgies of Disability Arts with a bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland. She is taking part in the L.M.D.A and Dramaturgs Network U.K. International Dramaturgs Lab 2021 with a Dublin City Arts Office bursary. Pamela has recently been production dramaturg onBAng! by Michelle Read in Dublin Theatre Festival ’21 ‘Jimmy’s Hall’ with The Abbey Theatre and ‘Scotties’ by Frances Poet & Muireann Kelly, National Theatre Scotland & Theatre GuLeor; ‘The Spiders House’ by Roderick Ford Winner of the A.D.I/ Project Arts Centre Realise Award at Project Arts Centre February 2020;‘Minefield’ by Clare Monnelly at Dublin Fringe Festival, Axis Ballymun & Smock Alley 2019. Current production dramaturgy includes ‘Bliss’ by Emily Gilmor Murphy at Mermaid Arts Centre, 2022 and Teach/Taidgh/Ty in development with Theatre GuLeor and Fishamble The New Play Company for 2022. She was Associate Dramaturg of the Tron Theatre, Glasgow 2008-2011 plays included Olivier award winning Roadkill by Cora Bissett & Stef Smith. She has a B.A from University College Dublin and an M.Litt in Dramaturgy & Playwriting from the University of Glasgow. Her writing includes ‘Sustaining a Career as a Female Playwright in Ireland’ Howlround Journal; ‘From Space to Place: The Audience Journey in Anu Productions The Boys of Foley Street’. Chapter 5 in Immersive Theatre Engaging the Audience ed. Joshua Machamer. Common Ground Publishing. pp65-76. ‘Giving Voice to the Global Citizen in The Speculator by David Greig ’ International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen , 6 (1). pp. 82-100. [Journal article]

Playwright Mentors

Michelle Read is an award-winning playwright and theatre-maker with a background in comedy. She has a track record in the professional production of new writing and experimental theatre and co-ran READCO / Living Space Theatre with director Tara Derrington for twelve years. Her writing awards include the Stewart Parker/BBC NI Drama Award, the Hugh Leonard new play award, an Ondas Spanish broadcast award, and an Edinburgh Fringe First. Michelle has been playwright-in-residence with the Civic Theatre, and is currently a playwriting mentor for the Tenderfoot Youth Arts Apprenticeship Programme at the Civic. In 2021 Michelle presented her memoir piece On A House Like A Fire, about remembering her mother Margaret and made in collaboration with the composer Brian Keegan, for the Bealtaine Festival At Home from Smock Alley. She also presented her latest play Bang! a drama comedy about love and identity, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival 2021 at Smock Alley. Michelle received the inaugural Age & Opportunity Creative Aging Writing Bursary this year and is currently a member of Six In The Attic with Irish Theatre Institute. As an independent artist her aims are to challenge and develop her creative practise through collaboration and production, and to produce diverse, engaging, emotionally complex stories for the theatre. Her focus often lies in exploring female perspectives and identities and she regularly experiments with form.

Gina Moxley is a Dublin based writer, actor and director. She was elected to Aosdána in 2020. The Application, her short documentary made with Luca Truffarelli, was selected for the 33rd Galway Film Fleadh and presented as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2021. In 2020, Gina contributed A Start to the Abbey Theatre’s online lockdown project Dear Ireland; Still, Life to Dublin Dance Festival’s online project Where I Am Now and contributed a video essay to Centre Culturel Irlandais’ Addressing the Nations. In 2020, she directed Transmission for Dublin Fringe Festival at the Peacock – one of the few plays staged with a live audience that year. Gina’s play The Patient Gloria premiered at Dublin Theatre Festival in 2018. In 2019 it played the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh where it won a Fringe First and a Herald Angel. Gina has previously written plays for Rough Magic, Fishamble, National Connections UK, CoisCéim and Pan Pan Theatre. She has performed with Pan Pan, Corcadorca, Cork Midsummer, Dead Centre, Abbey Theatre, Livin’ Dred, Prime Cut, Rough Magic, Almeida Theatre, Royal Court, Out of Joint, Tim Crouch Company and has toured extensively. Directing credits include Spliced by Timmy Creed, My Magnetic North by Gary Coyle, How to Keep an Alien by Sonya Kelly and Solpadeine is My Boyfriend by Stefanie Preissner. She will be seen next in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at The Gate Theatre in spring 2022.

Noelle Brown has spent the last 35 years working as an actor, writer, and director. She has worked extensively in theatre, film, television and radio. Her play, POSTSCRIPT, co-written with Michèle Forbes, premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2013. It was nominated for the Fishamble New Writing Award and the Bewleys Little Gem Award. It toured all over Ireland, played at the Centre Cultural Irlandais Paris, at the Abbey Theatre (Peacock) in June 2017, and the London Irish Centre in February 2020. Her play Foxy was presented at Project Arts Centre in 2015. Recently, she was lead artist and curator on the Abbey Theatres Home: Part One. Noelle is also a campaigner for Adoption Rights in Ireland.

Deirdre Kinahan is an award winning playwright and a member of Aosdána, Ireland’s elected body of outstanding artists. Recent work includes: The Visit (Draiocht, Dublin Theatre Festival 2021), The Saviour (Landmark Productions 2021) Embargo (Fishamble 2020), In the Middle of the Fields – (Solas Nua DC 2021), Dear Ireland (Abbey Theatre 2020), The Bloodied Field (Abbey Theatre 2020), The Unmanageable Sisters (Abbey Theatre 2018/19), Rathmines Road (Fishamble 2018), Crossings (Pentabus UK 2018), Wild Notes (Solas Nua DC 2018), Renewed (Old Vic London 2018). New Projects include: New Opera , Ettie, Outrage (Irish Civil War Commemoration Play) – Fishamble Theatre Co. & Meath County Council, a new play for Landmark Productions. Deirdre is an Associate Artist with Meath County Council Arts Office and currently artist in residence at CCI Paris. Her plays are translated into many languages, published by Nick Hern Books and produced regularly in Ireland and on the International stage. Representation: Lily Williams, Curtis Brown, London.

Open Call / Recruitment

Female playwrights are invited to submit a CV, a five page writing sample and a note describing why you are interested in the Programme. Please send to manager@milltheatre.ie with the subject line: The Maven’s Programme. Deadline for submission: 5pm, Tuesday December 7th 2021. Candidates will be shortlisted and invited for interview. Three candidates will be selected to participate.

Programme Outline

STRAND 1 – The program will commence with a week of research including a reading list of plays that have iconic representations of middle age and older women. To include: Paula Vogel, Caryl Churchill, Lynn Nottage, Tracy Letts & the mentors.

STRAND 2 – The Mill Theatre will host two peer group meetings to discuss, compare and contrast the writing of female characters within the male patriarchal Irish canon e.g. Big Maggie or Pegeen Mike.

STRAND 3 – 4 group based masterclasses with Noelle Brown, Michelle Read, Gina Moxley and Deirdre Kinahan, Each playwright will discuss how they approach writing and female characterisation. Following this each mentee will partner with one senior playwright for 1 session on how best to sustain a career.

STRAND 4 – The program playwrights then have one paid week to write exploratively in response to these ideas. This strand will include two sessions on generative dramaturgy with Pamela McQueen.

STRAND 5 – A final peer group meeting to conclude the program. The purpose of this will be to share texts written by the playwrights for reading and response by the fellow group playwrights.

OUTCOMES – The outcome for the Maven playwrights is an outline of ideas, form and characters for their next play and a progression in dramaturgy and writing skills. The outcome for the Mill theatre is a professional relationship with these playwrights. The Mill will faciliatate a development workshop of the remaining plays in 2023 if the writers wish to pursue that option.