The Brian Friel Theatre is a studio theatre located at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. The theatre is named after the Irish dramatist, Brian Friel. He is also a theatre director and author. It is located on University square. It has part of it being built in the Queen’s Film Theatre. It provides opportunities for students’ drama teaching, rehearsals and performances. It accommodates both student and professional performances such as the Belfast Festival at Queen’s. The theatre is part of the University school of languages, literature and performing arts.
Since it was opened in 2009, the Friel Theatre marketed itself in Drama at Queen’s which was acknowledged by the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. The majority of its research has been ranked among the best internationally and its unit was rated to be among top ten.
Research in Drama comprises critical and practice-based methods. The recent activities and outputs primarily relate to Irish theatre, post-conflict performance and applied theatre. The theatre also specializes in: history and historiography, practical research, theatre and medical ethics, modern European and American drama. A good number of academic staff are qualified with extensive professional experience working in theatre industry. The department has joint connections to all local theatre institutions, companies, archives and arts organizations.
Drama at Queen’s has been actively involved in international networks development such as Belfast-Sarajevo Initiative, operated in connection with the Academy for Performing Arts in Sarajevo. The Friel Theatre and Centre for Theatre research has also hosted several international conferences as well as touring productions globally with a view of establishing the Centre as one of the best facilities in Ireland.
Currently, there are 16 full-time Ph.D. students most of whom are in receipt of external research awards. The MA programme continues to grow in size and is increasingly attracting international students to provide well-qualified candidates for PhD study. The students who study there are fully integrated into postgraduate activities at the School of Creative Arts, playing an active role in the development of graduate conferences and research seminars.
The entire community contributes strongly to Drama’s thriving research culture. In the last three years the theatre has hosted several major international conferences and festivals examining the work of Brian Friel. The Research Centre has dealt on wider topics which include: Translation, Theatre and Visual Art and Queer Theatre. The theatre although still young, has already been awarded grants from research councils including several MA and PhD awards from the last AHRC Block Grant Partnership, as well as from various other arts and media bodies.