The Ad Astra Performing Arts Group has grown in number from 6 to 20 scholars. The group currently comprises of 7 actors, 1 playwright and 12 musicians.

Ad Astra musicians and vocalists have performed as the Ad Astra Ensemble in numerous places abroad and in Ireland including: Newman University Church, the National Concert Hall, Christchurch Cathedral, Hugh Lane Gallery, the National Gallery, Strasbourg and the Irish Ambassadors Residence in Ottawa, Canada as part of their 2017 St Patrick's day celebrations.

In March 2019, the music scholars travelled to Strasbourg with the UCD Symphony Orchestra to take part in concerts organised by the Orchestre Universitaire de Strasbourg. The trip culminated in an ensemble of almost 150 student musicians performing Prokofiev’s Knight’s March from the ballet Romeo & Juliet in the Église Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune, which was conducted by the UCD Symphony Orchestra’s Artistic Director, Ciarán Crilly. They also performed a chamber music recital at the Church of St Guillaume. 

Several of the Ad Astra music scholars have performed with the UCD Symphony Orchestra and Bootleg Beatles in Bord Gais Energy Theatre. The Performing Arts scholars have also collaborated as a group on performance pieces such as Yeats' at the Hawk’s Well – a blend of dance, theatre, and musical performance.

The Ad Astra drama scholars have had many opportunities to perform on campus. In 2017, they held a Pop-up Theatre Festival over three days in the Autumn trimester. The festival took place in different locations across campus and included extracts by Constellations by Nick Payne, The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien and Nuclear War by Simon Stephens. They also held a Theatre Lab week in the Sprimg trimester, where members of the UCD community (students and staff) were invited to along to participate in workshops, performances and talks, that included Designing with Light, What is Dramaturgy, Developing New Work and more.

In 2019, both the music and drama scholars came together in a new performance developed by our Artistic Director, Kellie Hughes called Voices of War in collaboration with Dr. Lucy Collins, from the UCD Poetry Archives and the National Gallery of Ireland to commemorate the end of the First World War. This was performed in the National Gallery and UCD James Joyce Library Hub. In addition, the drama scholars performed selected extracts from novelist and playwright, Professor Frank McGuinness’s celebrated play Carthaginians, in honour of when he was awarded the UCD Ulysses Medal in April 2019. This is the highest honour the University can bestow. This performance was directed by Kellie Hughes.

A growing number of the Ad Astra Performing Arts Alumni continue to be seen on the professional stage and screen including Ad Astra Alumna Katie O’Byrne, who co-wrote and performed a new show Free EU Roaming, directed by Ad Astra Alumna Rosa Bowden at Smock Alley. It was presented by Bewley’s Café Theatre and in the German Embassy. Alumna Caitriona Ennis, (nominated four times for Best Actress in the Irish Times Theatre Awards), performed in a new show at the Abbey Theatre called A Holy Show and We Ourselves a film written and directed by Paul Mercier, while alumnus Sam McGovern performed in Assassins at the Gate Theatre. 

Scholarship Benefits

Ad Astra scholars benefit from a scholarship, mentoring and a range of tailored supports. The value of the scholarship for new scholars entering the programme in September 2021 is a €3,000 bursary which can be used to offset the cost of fees or accommodation. If wishing to live on campus, Ad Astra scholars may avail of allocated on-campus accommodation.

In addition to this performing arts scholars receive:

  • the opportunity to work with experienced performance professionals in seminar and workshop settings
  • the opportunity to participate in modules specific to their artisstic persuits
  • access to expert training
  • access to the new renovated Ad Astra Academy Performing Arts Studio
  • the support of a dedicated academic mentor
  • opportunites to perform live
  • access to the Scholar's room

The scholarship is usually awarded for the first four years of study, subject to meeting the criteria for scholarship renewal each year.

Watch our video "Innovation in the Arts at University College Dublin"

Watch our Performing Arts musical scholars perform an afternoon recital featuring our music scholars, in a varied and attractive programme of solo & chamber works by Bach, Handel, Brahms, Chopin, Grieg, Franck & Prokofiev in the Hugh Lane Gallery from 2017 by clicking here. The highlights are availabe here.