General Convenor of the Working Groups: Dr. Eric Weitz

Performance Philosophy

This working group is the ISTR branch of the international, interdisciplinary research network Performance Philosophy. ISTR Performance Philosophy intends to provide a theoretical venue for all approaches that link theatre and performance with philosophy, or that engage in philosophical investigations of theatre and performance pieces. The fundamental aim of the Working Group is to generate an ongoing forum within the ISTR community for scholars whose work may:

-Consider performance as a form of philosophy;
-Use a philosophical lens in analyzing performance;
-Seek to deepen the philosophical approach of their scholarship or practical work.

At our first exploratory session in Galway in 2012, an initial meeting was held to formulate this community. A successful discussion was held at Birkbeck in 2013 and at Cork in 2014, each based on a “call for questions” (CFQ) that triangulated between the specific theme of that conference, performance, and philosophy.

The fourth meeting of the Working Group will be at IT Tralee at the ISTR 2015 conference, 22-23 May 2015. The current CFQ is available here. [link or display PDF attached]

Working group founders and co-organizers:
Gabriella Calchi-Novati (
Nicholas Johnson (

Past Working Group Participants and Affiliated Researchers:

Cohen Ambrose • Jessica Beck • Franc Chamberlain • Bernadette Cronin • Wei Feng •  James Hickson • Kristin Jones • Siwei Li • Donald Mackenzie • Bruce McConachie • Néill O’Dwyer • Chan E. Park • Lionel Pilkington • Robert Vesty • Scotty Walsh • Zheyu Wei

Comedy and Performance

The ISTR Working Group on Comedy is for anyone interested in the fact that people laugh and (perhaps more importantly) seem to like causing other people to laugh. The group seeks to include discussion in all areas related to humour and the comic with Irish connections, from conventional dramatic literature to historical and contemporary performance practices, performers, playwrights and companies, and including stand-up, television, film, online and biopolitical performance. There is specific interest in staging comic narratives, physical comedy and the notion of the comic body; and of farce, the grotesque, Grand Guignol and the anarchic. You can join an online conversation in the Comedy & Performance Facebook Group.

Working Group Coordinator

Prof Eric Weitz is Head of Drama at Trinity College Dublin. An academic who is also a once and future actor and director, he has published The Cambridge Introduction to Comedy, The Power of Laughter: Comedy and Contemporary Irish Theatre, a number of articles and essays, and contributions to reference works like the Oxford Encyclopedia for Theatre and Performance and the upcoming Encyclopedia of Humor Studies.

Contact: Dr. Eric Weitz


Theatre History and Historiography

Theatre History and Historiography seeks papers pertaining to any aspect of research into the history of theatre as a practice and as an institution in Ireland or the history of Irish theatre in its international contexts. This working group is also concerned with investigating the methodologies of theatre history and/or the theoretical and historical assumptions that underpin these.

Contact: Dr. Mark Phelan and Dr. Lionel Pilkington:,


Gender and Performance

The ISTR Gender and Performance Working Group researches, discussed and debates issues relating to the representation and performance of gender and sexuality in drama, theatre and performance, including parades, demonstrations, public happenings and the performance of everyday life. The Group’s research ranges from queer theory and performance, to gender and violence, feminist theatre and dramaturgy, reception and affect, the body on stage, and feminist and queer readings of theatre historiography.

Aims and Activities:

The Working Group aims to create an inclusive dialogue to support the work of post-graduate students, academics and practitioners, building dialogue between these different professional spheres and engaging in collaborative work wherever possible.

To do so, it aims to:

  • Build an active list-serve for the sharing of ideas, readings, performances and debates in the field;
  • To explore practice-as-research possibilities and support opportunities for scholarly and practical collaborations;
  • To meeting annually in the first instance at the Irish Society for Theatre Studies conference, moving rapidly to bi-annual meetings with the establishment of an annual seminar by a visiting scholar in the field;
  • To use new and emerging technologies to connect members to each other and to Working Group events, via pod-casts, blogs, email, and video-conferencing as required (Working Group Blog, for members only:

Working Group Coordinator

Lisa Fitzpatrick studied at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin before completing her Ph.D. at the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama at the University of Toronto. She is Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University of Ulster, where she teaches Critical Theory, Contemporary Irish Theatre and North American Theatre. She has an interest in the performance of work by women, acting as dramaturge for the Canadian premiere of Marina Carr’s Portia Coughlan, and as co-translator for the Canadian premiere of Daniela Fischerova’s Princess T.  She has published widely on issues relating to women’s writing for theatre, on gender and violence in performance, and on the performance of sexual violence. Her current project is on the representation of rape on the contemporary stage.

Current Members: Nelson Barre (NUI Galway), Dr. Alyson Campbell (Brunel University, London), Prof. John Countryman (Berry College/NUIG), Emma Creedon (University College Dublin), Brenda Donohue (Trinity College Dublin), Dr. Kate Duke (IT Sligo), Miriam Haughton (University College Dublin), Bryan Hogan (Queen’s University Belfast), Dr. Ruth Illingworth (NUI Maynooth), Monica Insinga (University College Dublin), Aideen Kerr (Trinity College Dublin), Dr. Mária Kurdi (University of Pécs), Christopher McCormack (Trinity College Dublin), Megan Minogue (Queen’s University Belfast), Cormac O’Brien (University College Dublin), Dr. Karen O’Brien (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Dr. Lillis Ó Laoire (NUI Galway), Elaine O’Sullivan (Bristol University), Prof. Paige Reynolds (College of the Holy Cross), Niall Rea (Queen’s University Belfast), Caitriona Reilly (Queen’s University Belfast), Dr. Melissa Sihra (Trinity College Dublin), Domino Torres (University of Southern California).

 Contact:Lisa Fitzpatrick ( and the Working Group at