News and Views

Playwright Jody O'Neill announced as new Theatre Artist in Residence for Cork Opera House & UCC

19 May 2022
University College Cork President Professor John O'Halloran, playwright Jody O’Neill, Cork Opera House CEO, Eibhlin Gleeson, and Yvon Bonenfant, Head of Department at UCC Theatre were in UCC's autism-friendly Calm Zone to announce Ms O'Neill's appointment as the new Cork Opera House/UCC Theatre Artist in Residence following the search for a professional theatre artist who identifies as autistic/person with autism.. Photo: Max Bell

Cork Opera House and University College Cork Department of Theatre have announced the appointment of playwright Jody O’Neill as the new Theatre Artist in Residence, following the search for a professional theatre artist who identifies as autistic/person with autism.

An initiative aimed at  celebrating and promoting diversity in artists showcased and supported by Cork Opera House and UCC, the Theatre Artist in Residence Programme provides a bursary of €20,000 to a professional theatre artist who identifies as autistic/person with autism.

Ms O’Neill’s appointment comes following an application process that was open to artists working in areas including, but not confined to, creating, writing, production and direction. In her new role as Artist in Residence, Ms O’Neill will liaise directly with the CEO of Cork Opera House and the Professor of Creative Practice and Department of Theatre at UCC throughout her residency. 

Speaking on her appointment, Ms O’Neill said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to engage with UCC and Cork Opera House, who show a huge commitment to creating a more inclusive culture and society. Establishing a bursary like this, that specifically aims to support autistic artists is incredibly important - in terms of promoting a better understanding of autism, better access for autistic people, and in terms of offering financial support to autistic people, 80% of whom are underemployed or unemployed. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve in the coming year, and hope that the residency might become a regular support to autistic artists.”

Two women and two men outside the UCC President's door holding signs that read UCC and Cork Opera House

Yvon Bonenfant, Head of Department, at UCC Theatre welcomed Ms O’Neill’s appointment, saying "UCC’s Theatre Department is thrilled to welcome an artist of Jody O’Neill’s stature and import to this residency. O’Neill has made a critical and ground-breaking contribution to not only the development of theatre as an aesthetic and social medium, but also to our social discourse around Autism and other disability. We are delighted to support the next stages of the development of her career,” he said.

He was joined in welcoming Ms O'Neill by Cork Opera House CEO, Eibhlin Gleeson, who said, "We are so delighted and proud to welcome Jody as our Theatre Artist in Residence at Cork Opera House. Jody is a groundbreaking and celebrated artist and will be a hugely important addition to the Cork Opera House family. We feel incredibly lucky that we will work with her to promote inclusivity, diversity and acceptance in our industry. We look forward to all that we will achieve together.

Ms O’Neill is a writer and actor with autism. Among her works is ‘What I (Don’t) Know About Autism’ a co-production with The Abbey Theatre, that premiered at the Peacock, The Everyman and Mermaid Arts Centre in February 2020. She was also a recipient of the Decade of Centenaries Markievicz Award for artists this week.

UCC President, Professor John O’Halloran said: “We are constantly striving to make UCC and our wider society a more inclusive place, and appointments such as Jody’s are crucial to meeting that ambition. We recognise that such a goal is not just achieved by having the desire to make our shared spaces more accessible and welcoming, but by also having creative voices help shape our understanding of how we can actually achieve this ambition in a meaningful way.”


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