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Dr. Nicholas Johnson

Associate Professor (Drama)

Nicholas E. Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Drama and a scholar-artist who convenes the college-wide Creative Arts Practice research theme. He is co-founder of the Samuel Beckett Laboratory, where the techniques of the theatre laboratory are used to produce cutting-edge research and practice in relation to Beckett in performance. A director, adaptor, and literary translator, Johnson has used techniques of performance in interdisciplinary research projects including "The David Fragments" after Bertolt Brecht, "Enemy of the Stars" after Wyndham Lewis, "The Machinewreckers" and "Masse Mensch" after Ernst Toller, "The Brothers Karamazov" after Fyodor Dostoevsky, "Howl" after Allen Ginsberg, "Three Dialogues" after George Berkeley, "K." (based on the short prose of Franz Kafka), and "The Way of the Language" (based on a large archive of non-fiction materials relating to Guantánamo Bay and post-9/11 America). His recent Beckett projects include "Virtual Play" with V-SENSE (first prize, New European Media Awards, 2017), "Beckett's First Play" with Dead Centre (ATRL/National Theatre 2017), "Cascando" with Pan Pan Theatre Company (Beckett Theatre 2016), "No's Knife" with Lisa Dwan (Lincoln Center 2015) and "Ill Seen Ill Said" (ATRL & Antwerp 2015-16). In 2012 he directed "Ethica: Four Shorts by Samuel Beckett," presenting "Play", "Come and Go", "Catastrophe", and "What Where" in Bulgaria, Dublin, the Enniskillen Festival 2013, and Áras an Uachtairáin for World Human Rights Day. He has contributed to "The Plays of Samuel Beckett" and "Staging Beckett in Ireland and Northern Ireland" (both from Methuen) as well as Contemporary Theatre Research, Theatre Research International, the Journal of Art Historiography, and Forum Modernes Theater. He co-edited the Journal of Beckett Studies special issue on performance (23.1, 2014) with Jonathan Heron. He has facilitated performance workshops worldwide, including most recently the US, UK, Germany, Turkey, India, Japan, Bulgaria, Morocco, Israel and the West Bank. He is a founding co-director of the Beckett Summer School at TCD and a co-founder of the new Trinity Centre for Beckett Studies. He won the Provost's Teaching Award (early career) in 2013, and in 2016 he held a visiting research fellowship at Yale University.
  American theatre, playwriting   Dramatic/Theatre Arts   Modern and contemporary German drama and theatre   Political theatre   Samuel Beckett   Theatre Practice

Details Date
Steering Committee Member & co-founder, IMBAS (society for Creative Arts researchers in Ireland)
Peer Reviewer, Cambridge University Press (Theatre Research International)
Consultant, Irish National Association of Higher Education Careers Services (on open-space learning techniques, affecting module design for career preparedness at national level)
Peer Reviewer, Carysfort Press (Devised Performance in Irish Theatre)
External Examiner, practice-based research PhD at University of Cape Town
Consultant, National University of Ireland (Maynooth) Access Office, creating policy on proofreading and learning support for dyslexic students
Scientific Committee Member, Samuel Beckett Society Conference, Mexico City
co-convenor, Beckett Working Group, International Federation of Theatre Research 2014 - 2018
co-convenor, Artists' Committee of Performance Studies International 2010 - 2014
Guest Editor (twice) & Peer Reviewer, Edinburgh University Press (Journal of Beckett Studies)
Peer Reviewer, Liverpool University Press (Journal of Romance Studies)
Peer Reviewer, Taylor & Francis (Contemporary Theatre Review)
Peer Reviewer, Springer (American Journal of Cultural Sociology)
External Reviewer, Swiss National Science Foundation (humanities research grants)
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
French Medium Medium Medium
German Fluent Fluent Fluent
Spanish Medium Basic Medium
Details Date From Date To
IMBAS - Irish network of creative arts researchers (co-founder & steering group) 2017 present
International Federation of Theatre Research (co-convenor, Beckett Working Group) 2014 2018
Performance Studies International (PSi) - co-convenor, Artists' Committee 2010 2014
Modern Languages Association (Member, Samuel Beckett Society) 2008 present
Theatre Forum Ireland (professional association of Irish theatre artists) 2007 present
US-Ireland Alliance (transatlantic non-profit supporting culture, business & politics) 2004 present
Nicholas E. Johnson and Jonathan Heron, Experimental Beckett: Contemporary Performance Practices, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2020, 1 - 86pp, Book, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
David J. Shepherd and Nicholas E. Johnson, Bertolt Brecht and the David Fragments (1919-1921): An Interdisciplinary Study, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, 1 - 224pp, Book, PUBLISHED  URL
Néill O'Dwyer, Gareth W.Young, Nicholas Johnson, Emin Zerman, Aljosa Smolic, Mixed Reality and Volumetric Video in Cultural Heritage: Expert Opinions on Augmented and Virtual Reality, Human-Computer Interaction International, Copenhagen, Denmark, 19-24 July, Springer, 2020, Conference Paper, APPROVED
Journal of Beckett Studies, "The Pedagogy Issue", 29, 1, (2020), Jonathan Heron and Nicholas Johnson, [eds.], Notes: [Special Issue on Beckett and Pedagogy, contracted for publication in April 2020], Journal, APPROVED
Néill O'Dwyer, Nicholas Johnson, Enda Bates, Rafael Pagés, Jan Ondøej, Konstantinos Amplianitis, David Monaghan and Aljo a Smolic, Samuel Beckett in Virtual Reality: exploring narrative using free viewpoint video, Leonardo, Just Accepted, (10.1162/leon_a_01721), 2019, Journal Article, ACCEPTED  DOI  URL
Nicholas Johnson and David Shepherd, The David Fragments in Performance, The Brecht Yearbook / Das Brecht Jahrbuch, 44, 2019, p61 - 80, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL  Other
Néill O'Dwyer and Nicholas Johnson, Exploring Volumetric Video and Narrative through Samuel Beckett's "Play", International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, 15, (1), 2019, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Void Cannot Go: Trauma and Actor Process in the Theatre of Samuel Beckett in, editor(s)Mariko Hori Tanaka, Yoshiki Tajiri, Michiko Tsushima , Beckett and Trauma, Manchester, Manchester UP, 2018, pp46 - 68, [Nicholas Johnson], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED
Nicholas Johnson, "Listen to the light": Pan Pan and Beckett's Radio Plays on Stage, Transdisciplinary Beckett, Mexico City, 8 November, 2018, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Nicholas Johnson, From the Digital to the Virtual: Beckett Experiments 2007-17, Beckett and Technology, Prague, Czech Republic, 14 September, 2018, Charles University, Notes: [Keynote address, included screening of 60 minute film presentation of TCD experiments (created & edited by Nicholas Johnson & Néill O'Dwyer)], Invited Talk, PRESENTED

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Nicholas Johnson, Samuel Beckett and Border Thinking, Warsaw, Poland, 13 May, 2018, University of Warsaw, Notes: [Guest lecture], Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Nicholas Johnson & Sam Slote, Samuel Beckett Summer School, 2018, TCD, Notes: [Eighth Annual Beckett Summer School], Meetings /Conferences Organised, PRESENTED
Nicholas Johnson, How It is and Prose Performance, Perforum, Cork, Ireland, 15 February, 2017, University College Cork, Notes: [Invited Talk in connection with Gare St Lazare Ireland residency], Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Nicholas Johnson, "Beginning to End" and Prose Performance, Bann Beckett, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, 26 February, 2016, Riverside Theatre / UUC, Invited Talk, PRESENTED
Scott Hamilton (adaptor) / Nicholas Johnson (performer), 'Ill Seen Ill Said', Dublin & Antwerp, European Research Night / Antwerp Beckett Conference, 2015, -, Theatre Production, PERFORMED
Nicholas Johnson, 'Three Poems by Georg Trakl', Trinity Journal of Literary Translation, Vol III, Trinity College Dublin, 2015, 16 - 19, Translation, PUBLISHED
Nicholas Johnson, On Translating Ernst Toller's "Die Maschinenstürmer", Trinity Journal of Literary Translation, II, 2014, p76 - 91, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Nicholas Johnson, The Many Nations of Samuel Beckett, Theatre (X) Cai, Tokyo, Programme, 2014, p7 - 8, Review Article, PUBLISHED
Nicholas Johnson, 'The Brothers Karamazov', Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin, Painted Filly Theatre/Sugarglass Theatre, 2014, -, Notes: [Author of the adaptation developed from 2008-2013; Director of production through workshops and residential rehearsal process 2013-14; Performer of Ivan Karamazov in 2014.], Theatre Production, PERFORMED
Nicholas Johnson, 'The Howl Ensemble, after Allen Ginsberg', Samuel Beckett Centre, Dublin, European Research Night 2014, 2014, -, Notes: [Performance system based on Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl"], Theatre Production, PERFORMED


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Award Date
Provost's Award for Teaching Excellence (early career award) 2013
Samuel Beckett Studentship (Government of Ireland/TCD Award) 2007
John McCormick Fellowship (research travel) 2006
George J. Mitchell Scholarship (US-Ireland Alliance) 2005
DAAD Research Fellowship (German Academic Exchange Service) 2004
Wallis Outstanding Senior Award (Northwestern University) 2003
I have spent the last decade publishing on Beckett in performance, directing Beckett projects internationally, and contributing to the scholarly infrastructure of international Beckett Studies. These activities culminated in the 2017 establishment of the Trinity Centre for Beckett Studies to consolidate our research, integrating the Samuel Beckett Laboratory, a space founded in 2013 by myself and Jonathan Heron (Warwick) for fundamental research into Beckett in performance, with the Samuel Beckett Summer School that I co-direct, now in its ninth year. How Beckett is received, taught, and understood is being expanded by the work that we do on experimental, intermedial, intercultural, and other forms of "applied" Beckett, and the international reach of the Summer School makes a public contribution as well. With Jonathan Heron, with whom I co-edited the 2014 "Performance Issue" of the Journal of Beckett Studies (23.1), I am currently editing the "Pedagogy Issue" (29.1, 2020); our co-written book "Experimental Beckett" is scheduled to be published in early 2019 with Cambridge University Press. Drawing on insights from this research into Beckett and the theatre laboratory, in recent years my work has pivoted to more interdisciplinary research projects in the areas of pedagogy (with Education), acting theory (with Neuroscience), VR and AI (with Computer Science), cultural trauma (with Sociology), and medical humanities (with both Medicine and Nursing/Midwifery). In my capacity as convener of the Creative Arts Practice research theme, I have discovered many opportunities to extend the impact of my "disciplinary" insights from within Drama. I am a literary translator (from German), with current and past projects on Brecht, Toller, Kafka, Frisch, and Trakl. These translation projects signal a further research interest in German Expressionism during the Weimar period, and more widely in the aesthetics and philosophies of modernism in the twentieth century.