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WillFredd - Theatre Company in Residence

The award-winning WillFredd Theatre Company were VISUAL's Theatre Artists in Residence in 2014/5.

The Company is made up of Sophie Motley and Sarah Jane Sheils. During their time with us, they created a new theatre piece called Jockey, developed through workshops with local racing and equestrian communities. Jockey was supported in production by VISUAL and premiered here in 2015 before going on to the Dublin Dance Festival to widespread critical acclaim. The residency was funded by the Arts Council and supported by the Carlow County Council Arts Office.


About the Company:

WillFredd Theatre aims to create exhilarating theatrical experiences. Our interest lies in new beginnings, inspiring us to develop new ideas and re-imagine older ones. WillFredd believes in a collaboration, inviting artists of many disciplines to work together from the very beginning of a process, with constant re-evaluation and interrogation of our work along the way.

WillFredd’s work engages with contemporary culture and actively invites new audiences into theatre. We strive to submerse our audience in the totality of experience, making work that is spatially resonant, provoking questions and responses.

WillFredd Theatre was founded in 2010 by Sophie Motley, Sarah Jane Shiels and Hannah Mulllan. Since early 2013, WillFredd consists of Artistic Directors, Sophie and Sarah Jane, aided by Producers, Jen Coppinger, and Kate Ferris.

Sophie Motley

Sophie’s directing credits include:

FOLLOW, FARM, The Truth of The Moon (WillFredd Theatre), Man On Bicycle ’73, Burger Burger Death Burger, Manchester, The Well Made Life (Miniaturists, Arcola and Soho Poly Festival), Plaza Suite (Rough Magic), Vincent River (Prime Cut, Belfast), The Evidence I Shall Give (reading at Abbey), The Party, Corners (ANU), Extremities (Spark to a Flame), Invisible Atom (ShinyRedChocolatePaper), The Water Harvest (Prime Cut), Autobahn (DYT), The Gleaming Dark (Old Vic Productions) and Pilgrims of the Night (Rough Magic SEEDS3).

Sophie is a regular Staff Director at English National Opera and was Resident Assistant Director at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Other Assisting includes: The Barbican, Chichester Festival Theatre, Pan Pan, The Gate, Talking Birds, Pentabus. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin, trained with Rough Magic’s SEEDS and the National Theatre Studio’s directing course. She is Associate Director of Rough Magic Theatre Company and Artistic Director of WillFredd Theatre.

Upcoming work includes a new piece with Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and Nic Gareiss for Dublin Fringe Festival, and One Act Opera, The Sleeping Queen, for Wexford Festival Opera, as well as touring The Sunken Garden, a 3D film opera, for ENO and Michel van der Aa at the Holland Festival and Luminato, Toronto.


Sarah Jane began working in lighting design as a member of Dublin Youth Theatre, going on to complete a BA in Drama and Theatre Studies from Trinity College Dublin, and afterwards was accepted as a participant in the Rough Magic Seeds3 programme.

Recent designs include: Melmoth the Wanderer (Big Telly Theatre), East Balkan (Barka Shinhaz), The Blue Boy (Brokentalkers), Laundry and World’s End Lane (ANU Productions), FOLLOW (Willfredd Theatre), The Lost Opera (Genisis), Blackbird (Prime Cut Productions), The Plaza Suite (Rough Magic), A Midsummer Night’s Dream? (Loose Canon), Hamlet (Second Age), Bocíní Bothat Kilburn (An Taibhdhearc), The Truth of the Moon (WillFredd Theatre), Vincent River (Prime Cut Productions), The Colleen Bawn (Bedrock), Idir an dá Shúil (An Taibhdhearc), Still the Blackbird Sings (Derry Playhouse), Offplan (Raw Productions), The Party (Willfredd Theatre), Silver Stars (Brokentalkers), Johnny Patterson (Barabbas…the Company) and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Making Strange Theatre Company).