ISTR Working Groups


General Convenor of the Working Groups: Dr. Marie Kelly

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


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

Dr Carole Quigley is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. She recently completed her PhD dissertation in the Department of Drama at Trinity College Dublin. Her dissertation title is, The Fourth Wave Fights Back: Deconstructing the Performativity of Rape Culture Through Contemporary Irish Theatre, Performance and Society. She holds an M.Phil. in Theatre and Performance from Trinity College Dublin, and a B.A. in English with Drama from University College Dublin, Her specific research interests include; women on the contemporary Irish stage, the female body in performance, representations of feminisms and femininities in Ireland, sexual violence against women and the construction of a global ‘rape culture’, and navigating the sexual and sexualised female performer.


Applied & Social Theatre Working Group 

Applied & Social Theatre is the Society’s newest working group and was convened for the first time in Lincoln in 2018. The group exists to foster interest and promote collaboration in research in applied and social theatre activities, particularly in Ireland. Applied theatre practices often exist outside conventional or mainstream theatre institutions, and are specifically intended to benefit individuals, communities and societies (Nicholson, 2005). Typically, these activities have a strong social outlook, may seek explicit change and have fluid ideas of participation. Social theatre also takes place in diverse and nontheatrical places and pertains in particular to those locations in which that work happens. It also understands function and impact in different ways to “aesthetic theatre”, often turning nonperformers in performers (Thompson & Schechner, 2004). 

Mirroring the growth in these practices internationally, this group wishes to invite those interested in research into applied, social, educational and community practices to join them in their work. 

Nicholson, H. (2005) Applied drama: the gift of theatre. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Thompson, J. and Schechner, R. (2004) ‘Why “Social Theatre”?’, TDR (1988-), 48(3), pp. 11-16. 

Working Group Coordinator 

Dr Michael Finneran is Head of Drama & Theatre Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. He is a teacher/artist/researcher and has written and speaks widely on research in applied theatre and drama education. Recent edited volumes include Drama and Social Justice; Applied Theatre: Understanding Change; and Education and Theatres. His co-written book Socio-Cultural and Political Themes in Applied Theatre is forthcoming in 2020