Acclaimed Irish actor/director, Adrian Dunbar, will direct a special site-specific adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, presented episodically with food and music on five of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal – a concept designed by DoranBrowne – launching ARTS OVER BORDERS, a new cross-border arts initiative for Ireland to run over the Bank Holiday weekend 24-28 August 2017.
Arts Over Borders builds on the work developed over the last five years by Seán Doran and Liam Browne (DoranBrowne), on the creation of the Beckett Festival & A Wilde Weekend in Enniskillen, the Brian Friel Festival in Derry & Donegal and more recently their quality year-long programme for the Opening Year of the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy.
All these events aim to highlight the relationship between artists and the island of Ireland, crossing borders and histories. The initiative is supported by a set of Irish Artist Patrons including Colm Toibin, Fiona Shaw, Eimear McBride, Kevin Barry, Ciaran Carson, John Banville, Lisa Dwan, Lisa McInerney, Nick Laird, Roy Foster and Adrian Dunbar.
In this first year, Arts Over Borders will celebrate the relationship between Brian Friel and Homer; it is said that each year Friel would read one or other of the two Homer epics.
A TROJAN HORSE OUTSIDE DERRY’S ANCIENT WALLS
The Odyssey will be recited by actor Niall Cusack and take place on the beaches of Tullan Strand Bundoran (24 August) with Yeats’ Ben Benbulben to one side and the highest cliffs in Europe Slieve League on the other; Narin (25 August), Carrickfin (26 August), Marble Hill (27 August) and Fahan, Inishowen (28 August) whilst in Derry’s Guildhall Square will stand Odysseus’s cunning idea of The Trojan Horse under the Walls of Derry evoking both the Troy and Derry sieges, another concept design by DoranBrowne. Over 10 days, sports of fencing, martial arts and archery will take place in the vicinity along with storytelling for children from under the belly of the horse.
Frielfest 2017 will also have performed readings of three great plays by Friel in unique locations across the region: the festival’s signature play, Making History, directed by former Royal National Theatre Associate Mick Gordon (An Grianan Theatre Letterkenny & The Guildhall Derry, 25 & 26 August), The Enemy Within with 10 actors from Kabosh (St. Mary’s Church Knockmoyle where Friel was born, and St Columba’s Church, Long Tower Derry, 25 and 26 August) and a promenade Faith Healer in community halls in Glenties, Portnoo and Ardara ending up at the Highlands Hotel in Glenties, the location of Brian Friel’s grave (August 25-27).
Christopher Logue’s unfinished epic War Music, an account of Homer’s Iliad written over 30 years, will be directed by Conall Morrison (hot on the heels of his recent 5-star Guardian review for his Galway International Arts Festival hit Woyzeck in Winter) in five indoor locations along the magnificent Walls of Derry and involving three actors (24-28 August).
Prior to the reading of Making History in the Guildhall, Dr. Malachy O’Neill, Provost of the Ulster University Magee campus, will give an introductory talk on the place of the play in Friel’s work and earlier that afternoon Malachi O’Doherty and Brian Feeney debate how history is made and the role of traditional and social media in this.
HAPPY DAYS: BECKETT’S BACK!
On the following weekend, September 1-3, 2017, Enniskillen’s Happy Days Beckett Festival, also part of Arts Over Borders, involves Adrian Dunbar’s production of Ohio Impromptu by Samuel Beckett on Devenish Island and Beckett’s Catastrophe in a secret location. The Happy Days Beckett Festival since its first year in 2012 has won high critical praise across the world from the New York Times to the China Daily being described by the Financial Times as the new kid on the block to Europe’s leading multi-arts festivals of Edinburgh, Salzburg and Avignon.
Other events in the 2017 Happy Days festival include a Beckett Schubertiade with Benjamin Appl performing Winterreise and tenor Nicky Spence performing Swan Song (Schwanengesang), both accompanied on the piano by Julius Drake, and the free Precious Little concert will be given by the mezzo-soprano Ruby Philogene MBE.
The talks programme involves Garrett Carr and Kapka Kassabova discussing borders and Raymond Tallis and Mark O’Connell exploring themes of death and immortality, whilst the opening festival talk is given by Kathryn White from Ulster University.
Speaking about the plans for Arts Over Borders, Artistic Directors Seán Doran and Liam Browne of DoranBrowne said: “Now, more than ever, we believe we need to celebrate the great literary heritage of Ireland, which has no boundaries. Over the coming years, we hope to create a major international platform for Ireland to speak to the world, built on the foundations of its writers: a roll call of some of the greatest in the English language.”
Adrian Dunbar said ”Brian Friel, I believe, would be excited to hear of our plans to read Homer’s Odyssey on the beaches of Donegal. It was here after all that he imagined them first, lost among the islands or marching purposefully like Spartans to hold the Gap at Barnes Mor. Niall Cusack will be our Rhapsode in the Tent telling the story, there will of course be music and wine and fires lit. Theatre governed by the tides. I cant wait..
Arts Over Borders thanks all its existing funders and welcomes its new partnerships with Ulster University, the Nerve Centre, Derry City & Strabane Council.