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Emer O'Toole, PhD

Performance Studies, School of Irish Studies

Emer O'Toole, PhD
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 4094


I study theatre, performance and film. My critical frameworks are Bourdieusian, performative, and postcolonial. My research asks questions about power, identity and culture, and is always underwritten by a commitment to social equality.

My current research projects, funded by the FRQSC and the SSHRC, explore the relationship between contemporary Irish performance and activism. 

I believe it's important to bring academic ideas to non-specialist readerships. My book, Girls Will Be Girls (2015), renders Judith Butler's theory of performativity accessible and, I hope, exciting to a wide demographic. I also write columns for media sources including The Guardian and The Irish Times; these often deal with feminism and Ireland.

If you are a potential graduate student and would like to work with me, I am particularly interested in supervising research on Irish film, theatre and performance, but am open to discussing work in adjacent fields.


My Ph.D (Royal Holloway, University of London, 2012) examined the ethics of intercultural theatre practice, with a particular focus on adaptations of J. M. Synge’s canonical Irish play The Playboy of the Western World. The thesis can be downloaded in full here

Following my PhD, I spent a year working as a postdoctoral research assistant on the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project, and retain a keen interest in first nations, aboriginal and indigenous art and politics.

I also hold an MPhil in Irish Theatre and Performance from Trinity College Dublin, as well as a BA in Philosophy and English Literature from the National University of Ireland, Galway. My teaching practice is accredited by the UK's Higher Education Academy.

Teaching activities


At 300 level I teach:
Irish Plays
Irish Film
Irish Performance Studies
Contemporary Irish Theatre
Intercultural Ireland
At 200 level I teach:
Introduction to Irish Studies

At 800 level I teach:
Performance Studies

I also regularly supervise independent undergraduate field studies in Ireland

Please consult Concordia's class schedule tool (here) to see what I'm teaching this year



O’Toole, Emer, Andrea Kristic Pelegri and Stuart Young, eds. Ethical Exchanges: Translation, Adaptation and Dramaturgy. Boston; Leiden: Brill, 2017

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

O'Toole, Emer. 'No Propaganda But.’ Art, Aesthetics, Activism, and THEATREclub’s Ireland Trilogy.' Contemporary Theatre Review 29.4, 2019.
Panti Bliss Still Can’t Get Hitched: Meditations on Performativity, Drag, & Gay Marriage' Sexualities 22.3 2018
---. '
Guerilla Glamour: The Queer Tactics of Dr. Panti Bliss.' Eire-Ireland 52.4, 2017. 
---. '
Waking the Feminists: Re-imagining the Space of the National Theatre in the Era of the Celtic Phoenix.' Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory 28.2 (2017): 134-152.
---. ‘
Cultural Capital in Intercultural Theatre: A Study of Pan Pan Theatre Company’s The Playboy of the Western World.’ Target 25.1 ,2013. P. 407- 426.
---. ‘Towards Best Intercultural Practice: A Study of Tim Supple’s Pan-Indian A 
Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, 4.3, 2011. P. 289-302


O'Toole Emer and Daniel O'Gorman. '“My Country Has Been Imagined Enough:” The Great Game, Neo-imperialism, and Gender.' Theatres of War: Contemporary Perspectives. Ed. Lauri Ramey. Metheun/Palgrave, 2021 (Forthcoming)
O’Toole, Emer. ‘The Eternal Interculture Wars: Reading the Controversy Surrounding Bisis Adigun and Roddy Doyle's Playboy of the Western World
.’ Irish Migrant Adaptations: Memory, Performance and Place. Ed. Jason King, Matthew Spangler and Charlotte McIvor. Cork UP, 2020 (Forthcoming)
---. “Intercultural Adaptation: The Ethics of Peter Brook's 11 & 12.” Translation,  Adaptation and Dramaturgy: Ethics in Dialogue, Ethics in Action. Ed. Emer O’Toole, Andrea Kristic Pelegri and Stuart Young. Boston; Leiden: Brill, 2017

Book Reviews and Articles in Scholarly Journals Without a Review Committee

O’Toole, Emer. ‘Review of Staging Intercultural Ireland ed. Matthew Spangler and Charlotte McIvor.’ Cultural Diversity and the Stage. 2000 words. (Forthcoming)
---. ‘Performance Review of Terminus, The Centaur Theatre, Montréal, Feb 2015.’ Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 39.1, 2015
---. ‘Universality and Difference: The Politics of Peter Brook’s 11 and 12’ Cultural Diversity and the Stage. 8.1, 2010. P. 21-27
---. ‘Review of Representation and Contestation: Cultural Politics in a Political Century. Ching-Yu Linn and John McSweeney.’ Performing Ethos 1.2, 2011.
---. ‘Review of Political Performances ed.Deirdre Heddon et al.’ Contemporary Theatre Review. 20.4, 2010.


The Guardian
The Irish Times

Participation activities


I am a Fellow of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute.

I am a member of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR).

Theatre Performances

The Riot Ballet

With Noah Drew, Catalina Medina, Martin Andrew, Shawn Ketchum Johnson, and production/performance team. 

The Riot Ballet is an immersive theatre game/event exploring themes of activism, protest, extremism and riot.

Aug 21-25, 2019, Montréal, and Seattle, Sept 19-22, 2019.

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