DUBLIN — Loughlin Deegan has been named director and chief executive officer of the Dublin Theater Festival. Deegan, 36, comes to the fest following a three-year stint as producer of the Dublin-based independent theater company Rough Magic. He follows outgoing fest director Don Shipley, who has returned to his native Canada to co-direct the Stratford Festival in Ontario.
Under Deegan’s leadership, Rough Magic has more than doubled its productivity, now staging five to six productions a year with an overall budget of E1.1 million ($1.4 million), making it one of Ireland’s most active indie theater outfits, rivaled only by Galway-based Druid Theater Company.
The company recently has toured productions to London, Edinburgh, Heidelberg and the Kontakt Festival in Poland. Himself a produced playwright, Deegan has worked for theater orgs throughout Ireland, including Druid and the Belltable Arts Center in Limerick.
Deegan says he has “long coveted” the a.d. role at the fest and feels well equipped to take it on given his contacts in the Irish and international arts communities.
According to fest chairman Peter Crowley, Deegan was the selection committee’s unanimous choice in an open field of international and local candidates. Crowley brushes aside suggestions that Deegan’s relative youth and lack of festival programming experience might hinder him: “Loughlin’s going to explode into this job. In the interview, he displayed exciting and knowledgeable artistic tastes and sensibilities.”Though he takes up the festival reins full-time in January, Deegan will start scouting work for the organization on a part-time basis immediately, in preparation for its 50th anniversary season next year. The fest plans a much-expanded program for 2007 — up to 80% more performances.
While the fest’s Irish Arts Council grant for 2007 will not be known for several months, Crowley says he and the board have told staff to “plan without fear for a larger festival” and that corporate monies will be pursued to make up any potential slack in government funding.