Over the past five years, the Ad Astra Performing Arts Group has grown in number from 6 to 19 scholars. The group currently comprises 7 actors and 12 musicians.

Ad Astra musicians and vocalists have performed as the Ad Astra Ensemble in Newman University Church, the National Concert Hall, Christchurch Cathedral, Hugh Lane Gallery and in the Irish Ambassadors Residence in Ottawa, Canada as part of their 2017 St Patrick's day celebrations. 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 semester one. The festival took place in different locations across campus at different dates and times 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 semester two, were 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.

This year, 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.

Alumni of the Ad Astra Performing Arts Programme are making their mark on the Irish artistic landscape with performances at the Dublin Theatre Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in a number of TV and Film productions. This includes Ross Gaynor who wrote and performed I Am Bird Now for Theatre Upstairs and co-wrote Birdy, commissioned by the Abbey Theatre. Sam McGovern performed in the award winning Once at the Olympia Theatre.  Caitriona Ennis starred in Ulysses and Dublin by Lamplight at the Abbey Theatre and featured in the film Kissing Candice, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. She has been nominated for a fourth time in the Irish Times Theatre Awards in two categories- Best Supporting Actress and Best Ensemble. 

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 2019 is €3,000 which can be used to offset the cost of fees, accommodation, or used as a bursary. If wishing to live on campus, Ad Astra scholars may avail of allocated on-campus accommodation and have their scholarship allowance applied in part payment.

In addition to this performing arts scholars receive:

  • the support of a dedicated academic mentor
  • the opportunity to work with experienced performance professionals in seminar and workshop settings
  • access to expert training
  • access to the Scholar's room

The scholarship is tenable for the duration of their chosen programme, 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.