In 2018, Replay turned 30. Started from a spare bedroom in 1988, Replay has grown up to become one of the leading theatre companies in Northern Ireland. We make innovative, quality work for everyone under the age of 19: from the tiniest babies to the oldest teenagers, for disabled children and young people, for school groups, for families, for festivals. We tour locally, nationally and internationally – taking shows to venues from Belfast to Broadway and lots of places in between.


​Why? Because we want to ignite imaginations through leading-edge theatre adventures created especially for our audiences. Our audience is at the heart of everything we do, and we shape each show through creative consultation with them.


We believe that theatre for young audiences has all sorts of benefits – it’s fun, it asks questions and starts conversations, it encourages empathy, it creates a climate of aspiration, it speaks to children about their concerns, and it promotes imagination. And we believe that every child has the right to imagine.

The Replay Team

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Julie Byers – Chairperson: Julie Byers is a Solicitor employed in Northern Ireland’s Government Legal Service.  Julie has been a member of the Law Society’s Children Order Panel and the Northern Ireland Central Authority’s International Children’s Law Panel.  She is a qualified Collaborative Lawyer and also has an interest in the area of special educational needs. Julie is foremost a wife and mother of two and in her spare time enjoys sailing flying fifteens as a life long member of Portaferry Sailing Club.​

Dr Keith Agnew (Chief Executive – United Feeds Ltd) – Secretary: After graduating from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1989, Keith spent 3 years at the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland (now AFBI) studying for a PhD in dairy cow nutrition. He has studied Leadership in Management with the Leadership Trust and holds a Diploma in Management from the University of Ulster, and Diploma in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors. Keith joined United Feeds in 2002 as Business Development Director and was appointed Chief Executive in 2013.  United Feeds is a part of the United Dairy Farmers group, which is the largest milk processor in Northern Ireland and owned by approximately 1600 dairy farmers. He is a member of the advisory board for the Canadian company, Fermentrics, is current President of the Northern Ireland Institute of Agricultural Science, a Director of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association and a member of the NIFCC Certification Committee.

His interests outside of work include Rugby and Golf.

Jill McKee – Treasurer: Jill is the Director of Finance for Tourism Northern Ireland, joining the organisation in 2013 as Finance Manager. Prior to working in Tourism NI, she spent 10 years in the Financial Services Industry as a Financial Analyst after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant.

Jill is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh.​

Jo Scott - Board Member: Jo Scott is a well-known TV presenter. She has been a journalist and broadcaster with  BBC NI for almost twenty years and has worked across a wide variety of programmes from news, current affairs, travel and lifestyle.

Away from news Jo is currently filming the sixth series of ‘Home Ground’ the BBC’s flagship rural affairs programme. She has also been the face of ‘Children in Need’ for the past 5 years. As well as work on screen, Jo is an established face on the Northern Ireland events circuit. Married with two children in her spare time Jo likes running, singing and yoga.​

Caroline McCarthy - Board Member: Caroline has been a teacher in Glenveagh School for the last 19 years, working with children and young adults aged 8-19 who all have severe learning difficulties.  It’s an exciting learning environment, getting to see the enjoyment and fulfilment that the arts can give to all the pupils.  Caroline moved to Belfast with her husband over 24 years ago after living in London (growing up watching all the West End shows).  She loves travelling to get the sun and surf and embracing the Belfast climate, walking in all weathers with her dog and standing at the sidelines cheering on her son and his team.

Stephen Bogan - Board Member: Since 2008, Stephen Bogan has been owner, MD and Head of Strategy at Genesis, a leading and multi award-winning advertising & design agency based in Belfast. Stephen graduated from Queens University Belfast in 1996 and then completed a Masters in Advertising, Communication and PR at UUJ. In the decade following, he worked in senior roles in two of the top 5 advertising agencies in Dublin, before returning to Belfast in 2007.  Stephen is a doting dad of two young boys, and enjoys attempting to keep up with them on the football pitch and playing guitar, though not at the same time.​

Paul Jordan - Board Member: Paul has been with the Community Relations Council since 1998 and has been its Director for Funding & Development for around the last 8 years. Paul has previously held a number of youth work roles many of which included writing and producing a range of theatre pieces with particular focus on the themes of peace building. He still volunteers at different youth events and when not dreaming of winning cup finals, the lottery and racing rally cars, Paul has three children to keep his feet on the ground.

Ellen McKenna - Board Member: Ellen is Head of Drama in Wellington College, Belfast, where she has taught English and Drama for 20 years. Ellen graduated from Queens University Belfast in 1999 and later completed a Masters degree in drama during which she was struck by the diversity of theatre practice in Northern Ireland, and in particular, how theatre can be used as a tool for creating positive and sometimes transformative effects on the lives of young people. She strives to pass on her passion for theatre to her students and enjoys directing a wide variety of school productions. Ellen is also a busy mum to three children and when she manages to get a few hours to herself she loves to spend it outdoors enjoying the countryside.

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Ian McElhinney

Ian was born in Belfast. He was a pupil at Friends' School, Lisburn. He continued his studies at Edinburgh University - M A (Sociology) 1971 and at Brandeis University, Boston - MFA (Theatre Arts) 1974. He taught at Goole Grammar School, Yorkshire until 1978. He began his acting career then, working initially with Interplay in Coleraine and subsequently at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Ian has worked as an actor now for the last forty years and as a director intermittently over the last 35 years. He has performed in theatres locally, throughout the Republic of Ireland and in England Canada and America. He has directed in those same locations and also in Japan, Sweden and Iceland. As an actor he has been nominated twice for a Harvey's award, and received an EMA award. As a director he has been nominated for an Irish Times and for a Tony award. He also received a Canadian Dora award. Ian has appeared many times on UK and Irish and American TV. He is best known internationally for Game of Thrones and Krypton. He has appeared in many films, the most high profile being Rogue One - Star Wars.


Why Theatre for Young Audiences?

The focus of theatre is to free the imagination not just of those who contribute but also of the audience. Encouraging us to think outside of the box, to be aware of worlds, ways of thinking, creeds other than our own is vitally important. Storytelling of all kinds is highly significant in today's world, and theatre is its most vivid expression. The immediacy of the live experience makes it more likely to resonate, to leave an impression over time. Working in a theatrical context develops that ability to think creatively, encourages a willingness to take risks without fear of censure, rather with positive reinforcement, enhances confidence in oneself, in working collaboratively with others, in accommodating differing points of view and in discovering the bravery to stand in front of others and express oneself. If exposed to theatre at a young age, people will carry the magic of it and their appreciation of it throughout their lives. That experience will greatly enrich their lives and temper their humanity.

Ian McElhinney

Brenda Palmer

Brenda Winter-Palmer began her acting career at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in 1979 in Once a Catholic. In the 1980s she was a founder member of Charabanc, the internationally successful Woman’s Theatre Collective, playing roles in Lay Up Your Ends and Oul Delf and False Teeth.

​Brenda has a distinguished back catalogue of roles in Theatre, television, film and radio. She has worked with companies all over Ireland, in London, Scotland and on tour to the Soviet Union and the USA. She has always managed to balance her performing work with her activity as a Theatre director, playwright, Theatre manager and, laterally, as a Theatre academic.

In 1988 she founded, and was the first Artistic Director of Belfast’s longest established Educational Theatre Company: Replay. Whilst at Replay she wrote numerous scripts for the company and for BBC Radio and Television.  In 2005 she undertook a practice as research doctoral study at Queen’s University Belfast in Drama Studies and lectured there until 2016. Since leaving Queen’s she has continued with her career as a writer. Her First World War play Medal in the Drawer (2014), has earned critical acclaim and enjoyed popular success.  Her new play Floral Nights which focuses on the Irish Showband’s phenomena of the 1960s, is currently in production with Karma Theatre Company.


Why Theatre for Young Audiences?

A healthy society pays attention to the hearts, minds and well-being of its citizens. History might suggest that a thriving cultural sector is essential to the intellectual, emotional, spiritual and even physical health of human beings. The live arts enhance the hazardous and often frustrating condition of being alive. They help us make sense of our worlds. They make us more human. But Art, particularly the collaborative art of theatre making, does not thrive of its own volition. Cultural richness does not happen in a vacuum. It needs to be nurtured. It needs to be instigated, initiated and handed on so that from an early age our children, as participants and audiences, begin to value live theatre’s potential to make life more entertaining, more beautiful, more ambiguous and more compassionate. This is what Theatre for Young People sets out to do. This is why it must continue.

Brenda Winter