Nic Barilar

  • PhD Student

Nic Barilar is a teacher, director, actor, dramaturge, and PhD candidate in theatre and performance studies. Nic’s research focuses on twentieth-century Irish theatre and drama, censorship history, transnational historiography, queer theory, and imperialism/decolonization. His dissertation project examines the cultural work that performances of banned plays undertake when they are produced after they’ve been censored by tracing the history of banned Irish plays in the 1950s and ‘60s beyond Ireland’s shores. In addition to his PhD, Nic is working towards a graduate certificate in Western European Studies. Indebted to archival research, his work has been supported by a Klinzing Pre-Dissertation Grant from Pitt’s European Studies Center and a Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Summer Fellowship. His other interests include French-Algerian theatre and history, musical theatre, and video games as performance.

Nic counts himself as a scholar/practitioner and has found that practice is vital to his theoretical and historical scholarship. Most recently, he produced and directed the North American premiere of Máiréad Ní Ghráda’s 1965 Irish classic, On Trial for the University of Pittsburgh Stages. A vital drama about the history and invisibility of single mothers in Ireland, Nic was able to produce On Trial thanks to generous grants from the Provost’s Year of Pitt Global and the European Studies Center’s Year of Global Europe. This production included several post-show talkbacks with scholars in Irish culture and history from Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University, and Carlow University. At Pitt, he also directed Samuel Beckett’s plays Footfalls and Catastrophe and was the assistant director for Hair. Nic is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and appeared most recently as “Father” in Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center’s Ragtime. Nic also worked as a Resident Artist with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera for their 2017 season where he served as assistant director for the original Rodgers and Hammerstein revue If I Loved You… and sang in their productions of The Marriage of Figaro and Xerxes. Additionally, he has worked as a scenic painter for over two dozen productions. Nic has also provided dramaturgical support to several productions, including Pitt’s Hair, 42nd Street at the Barn Theatre in Michigan, and the University of Alabama’s production of Merrily We Roll Along.

At the University of Pittsburgh, Nic teaches courses in acting, musical theatre performance, theatre history, and performance studies, including a course of his own design – Contemporary Global Stages: Performing Empire(s). Prior to coming to Pitt, Nic taught courses in American and British literature and rhetoric/composition at the University of Alabama. He has also led workshops on stage dialects, performing non-musical theatre songs in musical theatre settings, and using Shakespeare’s First Folio as an acting tool. Nic is also extremely proud to have founded the drama club at his high school which now presents a play every year for the community of Punxsutawney.

Representative Publications


“Queering Time: Beckett’s Queer Art of Failure in Happy Days,” in Beckett Beyond ‘the Normal’, edited by Seán Kennedy. Forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press.


“Bringing James Joyce Back to Dublin: From Performance to Censorship.” Panel Coordinator, Moderator, and Presenter: Reconsidering Translation. Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). Orlando, FL. 7-11 Aug. 2019.

“A Mime in the Desert: Samuel Beckett’s Act Without Words I, the Algerian War, and the Invention of Decolonization.” Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC). Cleveland, OH. 7-10 Mar. 2019.

“Censoring Arousal, Arousing Censorship: Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo in Dublin, 1957.” Impotent Performance Working Group. American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR). San Diego, CA: 16-17 Nov. 2018.

“The Scenography of Memory: The Maxo Vanka Murals, Space, and Moving Through Cultural Memories.” Cultural Studies Association (CSA). Pittsburgh, PA: 31 May-2 June 2018.

“Never Forget, Never Forgive: Violence and Audience Complicity in the 2005 Revival of Sweeney Todd.” Co-convened: Violent Bodies, Violent Acts Working Group. ASTR. Atlanta, GA: 16-19 Nov. 2017.

“‘Just genuine pure filth!’: Sex, Censorship, and the Queer Politics of Failure in Happy Days.” Samuel Beckett Society Conference. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: 27-29 July 2017.

“Negotiating Local and Transnational Performance in the World Premiere of Sean O’Casey’s The Drums of Father Ned.” Amateur Acts Working Group. American Society for Theatre Research. Minneapolis, MN: 3-6 Nov. 2016.

“Theatre of Terror: Re-Thinking Foucault’s ‘Spectacle of the Scaffold’ in Yussef El-Guindi’s Back of the Throat.” Comparative Drama Conference. Baltimore, MD: 31 Mar.-2 April 2016.

“Beckett and Censorship; or ‘It must mean something or they wouldn’t keep it.’” Samuel Beckett Society Panel. South-Atlantic Modern Language Association. Atlanta, GA: 7-9 Nov. 2014.

Invited Talks and Public Humanities:

Coordinator and Moderator, On Trial Post-Show Discussion Panels, 19-21 Apr. 2019.

“Samuel Beckett.” Interview with The History of Literature Podcast. Mar. 2019.

“Irish Theatre in the Diaspora: The Curious Case of the 1958 Dublin Theatre Festival and Sean O’Casey’s The Drums of Father Ned.” Lecture for the Pittsburgh Irish Festival.

Research Interest Summary

20th Century Irish Theatre and Drama; Theatre Censorship and the Politics of Aesthetics.

Research Interests

20th Century Irish Theatre and Drama
Transnational Historiography

Education & Training

  • MA, English Literature, The University of Alabama, 2015
  • BFA, English: Acting, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, 2013
  • BA, English: Clarion University of Pennsylvania, 2013