Meet our team of dedicated drama facilitators!
Kevin O’ Connor has been working in theatre for over twenty years and has a particular interest in Youth Drama. He is a drama facilitator, theatre director and educational drama consultant and facilitator. Since 1998 Kevin has taught and facilitated for a number of educational institutions nationally including the University of Limerick, Betty Ann Norton Theatre School, Cavan Institute and Dundalk Institute of Technology. Kevin also acted as Artistic director of Cavan Youth Drama, a network of sixteen groups located around the county of Cavan. Kevin has also facilitated Youth Drama groups in Baileboro, Virginia, Drung, Manorhamilton, Letterbreen and Mullahoran. Kevin has a passion for drama and believes in its power to change and transform, and make a difference in the lives of our young people.
Kevin currently lectures in Educational Drama in Limerick University and works as a community drama facilitator on both sides of the border. He also works in a number of Schools and in particular National Schools on a freelance basis teaching Primary School Process Drama. Kevin is the Artistic Director for the Gonzo Youth Theatre and also it’s head facilitator. He has directed all of their productions and performances to date.
Elizabeth Doonan first got involved in youth drama in Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim at the age of 4. She continued to attend youth drama all through childhood and her teenage years, participating in countless shows. At 16, Elizabeth had her first opportunity to stage manage at the all-Ireland one act drama festival for Killeshandra (adult) Drama Group. When she finished secondary school, she had sadly outgrown the youth drama group in Killeshandra, but Elizabeth was lucky enough to be asked back to assist with teaching the troupe. She completely fell in love with it, amazed at the growth in all the kids, not just on a performance level, but also on a personal level. The levels of confidence increased from week to week in all the kids, something that Elizabeth still revels at. At 20, Elizabeth was involved in her first adult production, "Smoke and Mirrors" with the Killeshandra Drama Group, an original musical by Carol-Ann Farrelly. She is now an active member of the Corn Mill Theatre Group Carrigallen, since 2013. Their production The Devil's Céili by Cavan men Philip Doherty and Kevin McGahern won the RTE all Ireland drama festival in the same year and they had the privilege of bringing the show to the Peacock Theatre, Dublin for 3 sell out shows.
Elizabeth has been assistant facilitator with Gonzo Youth since September 2014 and loves every minute of it. Watching the young actors grow and learn week on week is something that she says will never get old.
Calantha participated in Youth Theatre as a teenager, starting off with Bailieboro Youth Drama in 2007, a group facilitated by Kevin at the time. From there she was selected for a County Cavan Youth Drama showcase project with Patricia Downey and Spanner in the Works theatre company. After the ‘Borders’ devised play project, Calantha and some of her youth drama peers set up their own teenage group named Behind Closed Doors. They focused on holding weekly drama workshops and invited other young people from around the Cavan area to join them. They produced a number of street performances in Cavan town and devised their own short pieces.
After a break Behind Closed Doors were reformed by Calantha, with the age range of the group being expanded beyond the teenage years. The group’s focus was on facilitating workshops leading to devising and directing performances. They got to perform their self devised piece ‘A Portrait of Man’; the story of Francis Sheehy Skeffington, in the Townhall as part of Cavan Culture Night and later at Cavan County Museum. The group also took part in the Townhall’s ‘Festival of the Dead’, as well as making their own short Halloween horror film called ‘The Spook’.
In her early years Calantha also took part in school plays and productions, playing Aunt Eller in ‘OKLAHOMA!’ in second year and playing the lead in ‘Calamity Jane’ in fifth year. Musical theatre has been a passion ever since. Early in 2016 Calantha was selected by Gonzo Youth Theatre to run their social media campaigns and their website. As a result she got to meet the young people who attend each week thereby reigniting her own passion for drama. She assisted with the 2016 production of ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ and helped out with marketing the event. In July 2016 Calantha went as a leader with the Gonzo Youth Theatre to the National Youth Theatre Festival in Kilkenny, here she supervised and participated in many excellent workshops run by Youth Theatre Ireland. This experience helped her decide that this truly was what she wanted to do and as a result she has since embarked on training with Youth Theatre Ireland in their ‘Artstrain’ course. As a result of the course Calantha has become a more well-rounded, knowledgeable and experienced facilitator. Her facilitation techniques have been expanded on and enhanced by the course.
Calantha has been assisting Kevin and Liz since September 2016 in our weekly Gonzo Youth Theatre Classes, and is excited to see the real and positive difference it makes in the lives of young people of all ages. She enjoys every week getting to see the young people learn and develop their personal, social and artistic skills through youth theatre, and is so glad she has the opportunity to learn from them.