Theatre & Performance

Course Description
This taught masters focuses on theatre and performance in Irish, European, and international contexts, and is designed to strengthen the analytic, critical, and practical approaches of theatre students. The teaching occurs across lecture, seminar, and studio-based formats, unifying theory and practice, and culminates in an independent dissertation of 15,000 words. Special emphasis is placed on training in strategies of performance analysis, theatre in its Irish context, and embodied practices. The work normally takes 12 months, although students are required to be in residence only from October through the following June. Visits from practitioners and scholars supplement the teaching, and close connections with the theatre community in Dublin give students access to performances and work in development throughout the year. An optional two-night field trip to Brussels during the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in May, developed in association with the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe, was begun in 2019 and will be run again in 2020.

Entry requirements

Admission Requirements:
Candidates should have a good honors B.A. degree of upper second or above (a "B", average 3.0 or above, for North American students), or equivalent qualification. The application process includes an interview, which for overseas students may be conducted by telephone or video link, and submission of a sample of analytic writing.

Completed applications for admission must be made by 30th June of the year in which admission is sought.

Subjects taught

Strategies of Performance Analysis:
This core module introduces various methodologies of critical enquiry in theatre and performance, focusing on the learning outcome of Masters-level academic analysis and writing. The seminar covers historical approaches to performance analysis, in particular semiotics and phenomenology, with strong engagement in the theoretical areas of Marxism/cultural materialism, gender, postmodernism, postcolonialism, biopolitics, and socially engaged practice. Team-taught by drama staff rather than being treated as a single survey course, each seminar is taught by an expert in the given field. Though predominantly taught through reading, writing, and discussion, occasional embodied engagement with theory through practice is included and encouraged. (Convenor 2018-19: Nicholas Johnson)

Contemporary Irish Theatre in Context:
This core module blends individual small seminars with larger group interviews with Irish and international theatre artists, administrators, and policy-makers, focusing on giving students the tools to critique contemporary theatre in a sophisticated manner and engage in public discourse. Leveraging the vibrant theatre community of Dublin and the strong relationships between the Trinity drama department and its alumni, there are frequent excursions to see performances and to meet artists within their working spaces. The invited speakers present or explore the theatre practice of contemporary Irish and visiting companies, as well as the institutional frameworks that shape the production and reception of contemporary Irish theatre. Meetings with individual artists are supplemented by smaller breakout sessions focusing on contextual or background information that places the Irish community in its European and international context. (Convenor 2018-19: James Hickson, with guest artists)

Embodied Practices and Applied Performance Project:
This core module offers a consideration of movement practices in performance and embodied research, from both scholarly and practical points of view. In both semesters the class meets on a weekly basis to practically and theoretically explore movement forms and key texts, watch video excerpts and review recent productions that foreground the moving body. In Hilary Semester, the class will undertake a performance project, where students will get the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the body in performance and develop strategies for practice-based research. (Convenor 2018-19: Sarah Jane Scaife)

School of Creative Arts Research Forum:
M.Phil. students are expected to attend and participate in discussion in the weekly "SCARF" sessions, a gathering where staff and current Ph.D. students from Drama and adjacent disciplines (Film, Music, and occasionally English) present work or work-in-progress from their current research. This helps to engage students with contemporary approaches to research and to see their colleagues and teachers "in action" as they deploy various methodologies, often providing useful common ground for discussion in other classes. (Convenors 2018-19: Ruth Barton and Nicholas Johnson)

M.Phil. students are expected to undertake an independent research project at the culmination of their studies. Students usually begin to plan by the end of the first term, and then their topic is formally proposed in February. At the proposal stage, students are assigned an individual supervisor who is most suitable for their topic. When coursework ends in April, the dissertation is the sole focus. A document of approximately 15,000 words is then due at the end of August. (Individually supervised).


1 year full-time.

Enrolment dates

Next Intake: September 2020

More details
  • Qualification letters

    M. Phil.

  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time

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    Course provider