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Research Projects

Research projects undertaken within Trinity's School of Creative Arts are of the highest standard and all of our academic staff are encouraged to undertake their own research to accompany their teaching. Below are just a few of our staff's current and recent research projects.

Ecologies of Cultural Production logo imageEcologies of Cultural Production

Ecologies of Cultural Production is a research project examining career construction in film, television drama and theatre – How do people enter the fields of filmmaking and theatre-making, and how do they develop their careers?

Through a survey of prominent actors, writers, and directors, the research aims to:

  • understand how creative workers in film, television drama and theatre enter the sector and progress their careers
  • examine the role of public cultural subsidies in career development
  • illuminate the extent of career mobility between the film, television and theatre sectors
  • examine the evolution of creative clusters (e.g. drama societies, production companies, theatre groups, regional broadcasters, etc.)
  • examine the extent to which creative workers in these sectors must supplement their incomes from other sources

The purpose of the project is to inform public policy on arts funding and to establish a methodology that might be applied to all sectors of cultural production. The two immediate outputs will be a one-day seminar, 'Ecologies of Cultural Production', and a written report for Creative Ireland.

Principal Investigator: Assoc. Prof. Ruth Barton, Head of Film Studies, Trinity College Dublin
Co-investigator: Emeritus Prof. John O'Hagan, Emeritus Fellow, Economics, School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin
Lead Researcher: Dr. Denis Murphy, Film Studies, Trinity College Dublin

Virtual Play renderVirtual Play

Virtual Play is an interdepartmental collaboration between Drama, Computer Science and Engineering, and was the winner of the 2017 New European Media Art Award. It is a model for practice-as-research with multimodal outputs. It has launched numerous publications, presentations and digital content with international impact.
The project reimagines Samuel Beckett's theatrical text, Play, for virtual reality. It specifically engages questions of dialogue and interactivity. The sequence of the actors speaking is determined by a moving spotlight, which Beckett calls the 'interrogator'; they speak when the light is on them and fall silent when the light is off. In our VR version, we acknowledge the role of the user as active, recognise new opportunities for narrative and give the power of activation over to the end user, whose gaze becomes the spotlight. The user thus embodies the 'interrogator' and is empowered to independently discover the story, merely by looking at the characters. The user has six degrees of freedom to move around the virtual environment, so the experience is one of active immersion as opposed to passive observation. The project aims to investigate how narrative, perception, communication and embodiment have been altered through contemporary media, and asks how they might operate in the future.
Project Director - Dr. Nicholas Johnson

While The World Misbehaves, The Baby Must Hide in the Beehive action shot of 4 dramatists and 2 percussionists in Greek costumesWhile The World Misbehaves, The Baby Must Hide in the Beehive

This composition for 6 dancing percussionists and one narrator/conductor is a collaboration between Evangelia Rigaki, W.N. Herbert (Chair of Creative Writing, Newcastle University) and the Royal Irish Academy of Music's Percussion Ensemble. It is a Dadaist ritual and subjects an ancient myth to a contemporary reinterpretation: the God Kronos, fearful of being supplanted, eats all his children except the last, Zeus, who is hidden as an infant on the island of Crete, where his cries are drowned out by the shouts of the Kouretes, warriors who serve the Mother Goddess, Ida.
The piece was commissioned by the conductor of the ensemble Richard O Donnell in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of RIAM's Percussion Ensemble. It was premièred in New York University in March 2018, had a subsequent performance in Lehman College in New York and came to Dublin in April as part of the MusicTown Festival with two performances at Arts Technology Research Laboratory (ATRL).
Project Director - Dr. Evangelia Rigaki

Screening Irish AmericaScreening Irish-America

The Screening Irish-America research project is run from the School of Creative Arts, Trinity in collaboration with the Clinton Institute, UCD, the Irish Studies Program, Boston College, the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, NUI Galway, and the School of Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia. This project brings together academics working in the field of film, television and electronic images of Irish-America to facilitate the exchange of ideas and the publication of research. Membership is open to all individuals and institutions working in this area. It covers all aspects of images of Irish-America on screen, including historical, archival, theoretical, practical and contemporary research. We invite all those with an interest in this area to register with a Listserv that facilitates member-to-member communication by emailing the Project Director Dr. Ruth Barton at and including the phrase 'Register Screening Irish-America' in the subject of your email.

AntiMidas, or, Bankers in HadesAntiMidas, or, Bankers In Hades

This new contemporary opera composed by the Music Department's Evangelia Rigaki with Librettist W.N. Herbert explores a contemporary take on the banking crisis in Ireland and Europe at large. "Economic crisis has become our new social norm, with opinions about the role of high finance polarised according to political belief and social status. Most people feel bankers should shoulder some degree of responsibility, even blame – but how much, and how should it be levied? This new opera takes the not altogether balanced view that they should all go to hell. Irreverent and irrepressible to equal degrees, this explosive and satiric piece of new writing returns, like many operas, to the Greek myths – only to turn them on their heads. Everything King Midas touched, famously, turned to gold. But everything the banker Antimidas loves turns into quite another substance – which understandably makes for trouble at home… Topical yet timeless, experimental and entertaining – Antimidas, or, Bankers in Hades rolls up all the contradictions and hurls them in the face of austerity. Fierce and funny, cloacal and iconoclastic – AntiMidas offers us a new antihero for our financial times." This opera was premiered in the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin on December 12th 2013 with 3 performances. Visit for full information.

The Brothers Karamazov

Dr. Nicholas Johnson presents an adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov as a production by his theatre company Painted Filly. The performance will take place in the Samuel Beckett Theatre in early 2014. Dr. Johnson recently returned from Tel Aviv University where he delivered the 2013 Annual Samuel Beckett Lecture. "Dostoevsky's final, greatest novel is a love letter to the world, with nearly a thousand pages of passion, religion, murder, philosophy, and vodka. This highly distilled adaptation goes to the beating heart of the Karamazov family, where a drunken father, a future monk, a former soldier, and an atheist intellectual battle over love and money. After years of preparation and an intense residential process, Painted Filly Theatre and Sugarglass Theatre bring this work to the Samuel Beckett Theatre with simplicity, directness, and liveness designed to affirm not only the art of theatre, but also life itself." This production was premiered at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College on 23rd January, running until 1st February 2014. Visit for full information.