Orla O’Loughlin takes over from current Vice Principal & Director of Drama, Christian Burgess, who is retiring at the end of the summer term after 15 years in senior roles at the School.
Currently Chief Executive & Artistic Director of Scotland’s internationally acclaimed Traverse Theatre, O’Loughlin is a leading director and theatre practitioner with a strong track record in higher education. She recently supported the University of Warwick on the development of their BA and MA Drama programmes and was a panel member on the review of the BA Acting programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She has also been a visiting director and lecturer at RADA, Central School of Speech and Drama, and a number of universities in Scotland.
Lynne Williams, Principal Guildhall School of Music & Drama said, ‘We are very excited that Orla will be coming to join us as Vice Principal and Director of Drama. By appointing Orla, the Guildhall School is not only gaining a world-class theatre practitioner but an expert in nurturing new dramatic writing, generating cross-disciplinary work and developing playwrights, directors and actors. This is an exciting step for the School as we look to diversify our drama programme offer, and to explore the potential of working with new partners across the industry, including the Traverse Theatre.’
Orla O’Loughlin commented, ‘I am thrilled to be joining Principal Lynne Williams and the brilliant team at the Guildhall School as Vice Principal and Director of Drama. Theatre and education have always been my dual passions and I am delighted that I will be able to unite them at such a prestigious and progressive organisation. Reimagining the future of drama training and ensuring that all who pass through the Guildhall are well equipped to lead the coming change is an exciting opportunity I can't wait to begin alongside my world-leading colleagues.’
During her time at the Traverse, the theatre has produced 70 Traverse Theatre Company productions and co-productions, many of which also toured throughout Scotland and the UK and some of which were additionally seen in New York, welcomed over 300 partner organisations and touring companies to its stages, and been visited by almost 450,000 audience members, as well as forged rich international partnerships with companies in South Korea, New Zealand and Canada.
Having studied Theatre and Contemporary Performance the University of Warwick before completing a PGCE and working as a teacher, O’Loughlin later took an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice at Central School of Speech and Drama, after which she began her directing career as a trainee director at the Donmar Warehouse and the National Theatre. She went on to become an Associate Director at the Royal Court Theatre. As a freelance director she directed productions at the Young Vic, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Royal Court Theatre, Hampstead Theatre among others, and has had work in the West End. She became Artistic Director of Pentabus Theatre in 2007, where she led touring productions of new work, and took up her current role at the Traverse in 2012. She was listed in The Observer as one of the top 50 cultural leaders in the UK.
The Guildhall School is a vibrant, international community of young musicians, actors and production artists in the heart of the City of London. Rated Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework and ranked as the UK’s top conservatoire in the Guardian University Guide 2019 for Music, the School is a global leader of creative and professional practice which promotes innovation, experiment and research, with over 1,000 students in higher education, drawn from nearly 60 countries around the world. The School is also the UK’s leading provider of specialist music training at the under-18 level with nearly 2,500 students in Junior Guildhall and the Centre for Young Musicians.
The Guildhall School’s acting programmes are highly regarded in the profession for the passion, quality and rigour of the teaching, and are also renowned for the integration of craft training, the care and attention given to individual student development and the strong ensemble ethic shared by both staff and students. Guildhall School offers state-of-the-art facilities to match the talent within its walls, including three theatres and a world-class concert hall at Milton Court, and has a distinguished list of acting graduates, including Daniel Craig, Michelle Dockery, Lennie James, Lily James, Damian Lewis, Ewan McGregor, Nikesh Patel, Dominic West and Jodie Whittaker.