Bruiser Theatre Company is one of Northern Ireland’s most vibrant and successful arts organisations. Founded in 1997 and based in Belfast, Bruiser produces theatre that is exciting and innovative, down to earth and accessible to all. We're committed to providing high impact theatre experiences for our audiences in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and further afield.
We aim to use minimal set for maximum impact, whilst further exploring the notion of the actor as the centre of the action, enforcing them as the main mechanism of performance. This approach is echoed in all of our productions, and is the central artistic premise in all our work. Inspiring the next generation of talent is a core part of our vision. We're dedicated to providing training and development opportunities to young actors through our education and engagement programmes A Day With Bruiser and The Arts Academy.
Lisa May is the Artistic Director and Founder of Bruiser Theatre Company. In 1997, Lisa believed there was an opportunity in the market for a new, innovative touring company in Northern Ireland. The aim was to produce consistently high quality theatre, with the flexibility to specialise in engagement and education where applicable.
Lara has a Masters in Cultural Policy & Arts Management from UCD and BA in Culture & Languages from the University of Naples. As the newest member of the Bruiser team she is looking forward to facilitating the next steps in their journey in her new role as Development Manager. Previously Lara was Finance Officer in the charity sector and worked in two language schools. Lara has a passionate interest in the performing arts and has made many appearances on festival and venue stages with Analog On and the Inishowen Gospel Choir.
Kirsty has recently graduated with a BA in Film and Theatre Production from Queen’s University Belfast. She has always been interested in creating theatre and enjoyed acting as well as working backstage on theatre productions growing up. She is excited to take this passion further as Bruiser’s development officer and is particularly excited to work with a company that creates innovative and accessible theatre.
Cheryl O'Dwyer graduated from Liverpool John Moores with a Degree in Drama and Dance. As the newest member of Bruiser she is looking forward to working with schools to enrich the lives of young people through theatre. Previously Cheryl was the Drama and Dance educator for YouthAction's Rainbow Factory for 21 years. Cheryl is a passionate advocate that theatre can change the lives of young people in a positive way. Currently Cheryl sits on the Board of Directors for Theatre & Dance NI.
Rob is an Actor, Director and Facilitator who has been working with Bruiser since 2016. He is an alumnus of Queen’s University’s Drama BA, and Belfast Met’s Performing Arts HND. Rob collaborates with local artists to devise fresh, issue-based theatre and has worked with hundreds of young people over the years to support the development of new skills and nurture fresh perspectives.
Joe was a professional actor for 16 years before turning to producing theatre. Joe worked as Director of Development for GBL Productions in 2010 before becoming its senior producer in 2012. Joe produced many shows including Dancing Shoes - the George Best Story, 50 Shades of Red White and Blue, and The History of the Peace (accordin’ to my Ma).
Diana joined the Bruiser Board in 2021 through the Young Professionals on Arts Board programme with Arts and Business NI. Diana is a graduate of the University of Ulster where she gained Undergraduate and Masters degrees in Psychology. Diana has experience working in the health and social care sector previously working for charities supporting community engagement programmes in NI. After starting her career in health and social care Diana moved to a career in IT joining PwC UK in 2016. Diana is now an IT manager at PwC and has joined the Board to share her skills in technology transformation projects. With experience implementing change on a large scale this will support Bruiser with their digital journey going forward.
Aidan is the Financial Director of Duncrue Food Processors Ltd. Since 2017 Aidan has been the parent representative present at board meetings of Children’s Heartbeat Trust. Aidan is also a member of the Finance sub-committee of the charity which oversees all of the financial aspects of the charity.
Le-ann is an associate in the corporate team at Carson McDowell. Le-ann graduated with a degree in Civil Law (BCL) from University College Dublin in 2009 and a masters degree in Human Rights Law (LLM) from Queen’s University, Belfast in 2010. Le-ann obtained her professional qualification from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies in Belfast in June 2014 after completing her legal training with a top tier law firm.
Adam fell in love with Northern Ireland more than a decade ago and has steadfastly refused to leave!
He is currently Director of The Grand Theatre, Blackpool. His career includes senior roles at Grand Opera House Belfast, ICC Belfast Waterfront & Ulster Hall; Sherman Theatre, Cardiff; and, for the Ambassador Theatre Group, at Edinburgh Playhouse, Trafalgar Studios and Savoy Theatre, winning the London Theatre Manager of the Year Award.
He began his career at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing and Chichester Festival Theatre before training as an actor with the National Youth Music Theatre, National Youth Theatre and at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He is a graduate of Ulster University.
He is co-chair of Theatre & Dance NI (having previously been chair of Dance Resource Base NI), a Trustee of the Evelyn Norris Trust (one of the Combined Theatrical Charities) and of Waverley Care, Scotland’s HIV and Hepatitis C charity.
Aoife joined Bruiser’s Board in 2019. Aoife is a graduate of English at Queen’s University and a past Bruiser Graduate, completing the Graduate Academy course in 2017. She also was the president of Queen’s University Players and the Co-ordinator of the ISDA Festival.
Marie O’Donoghue is an arts education specialist who has over 30 years’ experience working within schools across all sectors. She is employed by the Education Authority and is currently working on a new collaborative initiative, the Creative Schools Programme, a partnership between the Arts Council, the Urban Villages and the Education Authority, which is focusing on promoting creativity within Post-primary schools in the Urban Village areas in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.
Laura Johnston graduated from the University of Ulster with a First Class Honours Degree in Drama. She has been a secondary school teacher for over 11 years and is currently Head of Drama at Rathmore Grammar School. Laura is an examiner with CCEA and travels to schools across Northern Ireland to examine GCSE and Alevel performances. Laura is a drama tutor for Youth Lyric and is on the Education Panel at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.
Kirsten is Bruiser’s newest Board member, joining in 2023. Kirsten is the Head of Corporate Finance for a Private Equity portfolio company operating globally but headquartered in Northern Ireland. Kirsten graduated with a degree in Accounting from Queen’s University Belfast in 2013 and a master’s degree in Advanced Accounting from Ulster University in 2014. Kirsten obtained her professional qualification from the Institute of Chartered Accountants Ireland in 2017 after completing her training with KPMG.
Colin has been with Invest Northern Ireland since 2009, working in International Operations before taking up his current role of Risk Manager. He previously worked in retail management and HR and is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Ella began her Bruiser journey at 16 years old when she first took part in The Bruiser Summer School, and went on to complete all Arts Academy courses and intern with the company. All of this, along with working at The Lyric Theatre Belfast, helped her achieve her HND in Performing Arts (Acting) and develop a greater understanding and appreciation of theatre. While working at The Lyric Theatre, Ella worked her way up from a Customer Service Agent to Customer Service Manager. Now Ella is the Front of House Manager focusing on food and beverage at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre - one of the only fully producing houses in London. Having been involved in Bruiser since such a young age, Ella is excited for what is to come and how the company will progress.
Duke Special (aka Peter Wilson) is a musician from Belfast. He has released many records and toured all over the world and has been involved in a diverse array of other projects, including writing the music for Deborah Warner’s critically acclaimed 2009 production of ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’ at London’s National Theatre, being commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to write a series of original songs based on photographs for their exhibition of the photographers Stieglitz, Steichen and Strand, and collaborating with writer Bob Kelly on a new musical adaptation of the Patrick McCabe novel ‘Breakfast on Pluto'.
Dan Gordon is an actor, writer and director from Belfast. He is probably best known for his portrayal of Red Hand Luke in the long running BBC comedy series 'Give My Head Peace' and the Marie Jones one man show 'A Night in November' playing in Belfast, London, Australia and off-Broadway New York and for which he was nominated for a Broadway Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding solo performance. Alongside mainstream theatre, television and film work he has a long history of engaging with many mainstream and marginalised groups including Prison Arts, Youth Justice, Probation Board NI, NIACRO and the Integrated Education Fund.
“Bruiser not only consistently produces delightful award winning theatre, but I believe the contribution of the bespoke education and engagement programme is a vital strand of their work, hugely significant to the wellbeing and cultural life of the City of Belfast and beyond.”
Bruiser Theatre Company is a Registered Charity with The Charities Commission for Northern Ireland (Charity No. 101876)
Bruiser Theatre Company is a Private Limited Company by guarantee without share capital use of 'Limited' exemption with Companies House (Company No. NI601058)