- Vice-Principal & Director of Drama
Orla was listed in the Observer as one of the top fifty Cultural Leaders in the UK and in The List Hot 100 of Women in the Arts.
Prior to taking up her current post at Guildhall she was Artistic Director of the Traverse Theatre where directing credits included the award winning productions: Mouthpiece (Traverse Theatre/Soho Theatre/ Melbourne and Auckland International Arts Festivals), What Girls are Made of (Traverse Theatre, Tramway, Tron, Soho, Adelaide, Sao Paulo and Spoleto International Theatre Festivals), Swallow (Traverse); Ciara (Traverse, Tron); Spoiling (Traverse, Theatre Royal Stratford East); Meet Me at Dawn (Edinburgh International Festival), Locker Room Talk (Abbey Theatre, Latitude Festival, BBC Radio, 4, Scottish Parliament, Traverse).
Other directing includes: How Much is your Iron? (Young Vic); The Hound of the Baskervilles (West Yorkshire Playhouse/ UK Tour/West End); Kebab (Dublin International Theatre Festival/Royal Court); For Once (Hampstead Theatre) The Fire Raisers (BAC); Black Comedy, Blithe Spirit, Relatively Speaking (Watermill Theatre); Small Talk: Big Picture (BBC World Service/Royal Court/ICA), Women Talking (Edinburgh International Book festival, Toronto Festival of Authors), A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity and Clean (Oran Mor and 59E59, New York).
Orla has directed productions, held masterclasses and taught at a range of conservatoires, universities and drama schools including: RADA, Central School of Speech and Drama, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret’s University and Birmingham Conservatoire.
Her work has won a variety of awards including The James Menzies Kitchin Directors Award, Herald Angels, Fringe Firsts, Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland, The Stage Awards and Writers Guild of Great Britain Awards.
Orla is a former Artistic Director of Pentabus Theatre, Associate Director of the Royal Court Theatre and Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse where she was awarded the Carlton Bursary. She trained as a staff director at the National Theatre, was part of the National Theatre Studio Directors Programme and is a regular director for National Theatre Connections.
She has mentored for the Clore Fellowship and Federation of Scottish Theatre and is a regular on a variety of award panels including; Windham Campbell Award, James Tait Black Award for Drama, Linbury Prize, James Menzies Kitchin Award, Stage Awards.
Orla has a Master’s (Distinction) in Advanced Theatre Practice from Central School of Speech and Drama, a PGCE in Drama from the University of Reading, a BA(Hons) in Theatre & Performance from the University of Warwick.
Orla is a regular contributor and subject in a variety of media and has featured on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Women’s Hour, The Guardian, The Stage, Arts Professional and BBC Culture Show.
Orla was conferred the title Professor at Guildhall in 2020 in recognition of her ‘outstanding contribution to the advancement of her discipline’.