Passionate teacher of Russian and Irish theatre


Ros Dixon:ROS DIXON, who has died aged 43, was a scholar steeped in Russian and Irish theatre who made significant contributions to knowledge of both in articles, encyclopaedia entries and a host of conference papers.

Skilled also in theatrical arts, including directing and especially in lighting, as a university lecturer she brought an innovative, practical approach to the teaching of drama, which won her the admiration and love of all her students and colleagues.

She was born in Manchester, England, where her father, Victor, was a university lecturer, and her mother, Sylvia (née Finley), a doctor.

With her parents, her older brother Terry and her younger sister Corinna, the family moved to Dublin, where Victor had been appointed to the chair of Spanish at Trinity College, and Sylvia was to work as a consultant psychiatrist.

Having come to share the whole family’s active interest and involvement in theatre, at 17 Ros embarked on Trinity’s two-subject moderatorship in drama and English, and took her degree from its new Department of Theatre and Drama Studies.

She devoted a vacation to studying theatre in South America, and indulged her lifelong love of travel by working in both America and Australia and touring widely in southeast Asia.

On her return, though knowing as yet no Russian, she took the opportunity to spend a year in Moscow as a postgraduate research student at GITIS, the city’s famous conservatory of dramatic art. Falling in love with Russia and its theatre, she remained there for two more years, taking time to visit China on the Trans-Siberian railway.

She became extremely proficient in Russian, and embarked on doctoral research, initially at Trinity but principally at the University of Nottingham.

Her PhD thesis in 2002 was a study of the theatre director Anatolii Efros (1925-1987), whose excitingly contemporary and iconoclastic productions of Chekhov, Gogol and Turgenev had both outraged traditionalists and fallen foul of Soviet censors.

Appointed to the staff of the new MA in Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway, she encouraged her students to demonstrate their knowledge of directorial styles by visual exhibits, model sets, showmanship and other enactments. One could have sold tickets to her examinations. She won the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2007.

In 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, an experience that, characteristic of adversity, released in her a great surge of life. She threw herself into her work, attending and organising conferences, most notably the very successful Ibsen and Chekhov on the Irish Stageheld at NUI Galway in November 2009, and she assumed the role of director on the new BA Connect Programme in Drama and Theatre Studies.

She swam daily, and she and her partner Liz FitzPatrick travelled at every opportunity. Even after a recurrence of her illness in the spring of this year, she was determined to continue to enjoy her life. Just three days before her death she was in the Town Hall Theatre in Galway to see Donal O’Kelly’s The Wet Señor.

Ros Dixon loved theatre because, in her own words, “it is live, immediate, and dangerous. It is beautifully tragic and ephemeral.”

Ros Dixon: born May 6th, 1967; died November 13th, 2010