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.
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: Enough of Him (National Theatre of Scotland); 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).
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.
Orla is currently Vice Principal and Director of Drama at Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she was conferred the title Professor in 2020 in recognition of her ‘outstanding contribution to the advancement of her discipline.’