We develop a theory of convex cocompact subgroups of the mapping class group MCG of a closed, oriented surface S of genus at least 2, in terms of the action on Teichmuller space. Given a subgroup G of MCG defining an extension L_G: 1--> pi_1(S) --> L_G --> G -->1 we prove that if L_G is a word hyperbolic group then G is a convex cocompact subgroup of MCG. When G is free and convex cocompact, called a "Schottky subgroup" of MCG, the converse is true as well; a semidirect...

Source: http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0106190v3