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The Belfast Agreement: Twentieth Anniversary Issue
(Vol 10, No 2)
Our new issue will consist of notable literary writers and scholars commenting on the achievement of the Agreement itself as well as offering their views, feelings and experience of it over the past twenty years, including the present moment. It is being compiled through a mixture of invitation and public announcement, and most of the contributors are from the North, or Northern-based. A certain number, however, are from outside Northern Ireland — whether the Republic, Great Britain or North America — but these are writers whose work in the past has demonstrated a real interest in, and engagement with, this polity. Most of the writing is non-fiction, but a small amount of poetry, memoir and fiction directly relevant to the theme may be included.
In addition, most of the contributors are writers with some literary or scholarly track-record, evinced by publication history and critical response. There are no politicians included, and only a number of journalists with book publication. A major consideration has been careful balance: by genre of writer, gender, age, background, outlook, county and so forth. But finally, as always, “the sole criteria for inclusion in the journal are the distinction of the writing and the integrity of the individual voice.” As such, given the range of the contributors, the publication of the issue will be a cultural event of high contemporaneous relevance to the North, to the whole of Ireland, and to Great Britain in the throes of Brexit.
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IRISH PAGES is delighted to publicize the following major festivals in August organized by ARTS OVER BORDERS.
ARTS OVER BORDERS
The first three weeks in August will see major literary events taking place across six counties on both sides of the Irish border – from Antrim to Donegal, Tyrone to Derry, Fermanagh to Cavan – to celebrate the life and work of Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett and playwright Brian Friel.
Happy Days: Enniskillen International Beckett Festival
1-6 August 2018
This year’s sixth annual festival takes place in Fermanagh, Omagh and Cavan. It will be the final edition in the border county of Fermanagh ahead of Brexit, so festival programmers have created as the festival centrepiece three experiential Beckett Border projects which extend beyond the festival dates and will be experienced by audiences in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These are:
Three (or More) Billboards Outside Enniskillen & Sligo (25 July – 25 August) is a collaboration with the W.B. Yeats Tread Softly Festival which will see works by the two Nobel Laureates – an extract from The Tower by Yeats and neither by Beckett – exhibited on specially commissioned billboards on either side of the border, to be experienced by audiences from their cars travelling at 60mph …
Purgatorio: Walking for Waiting for Godot (4-5, 18-19 August) sees one of Beckett’s most famous works being performed as a reading in the trans-national Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark. In this unique production, produced with theatre companies from both sides of the border (Jimmy Fay of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast and Annie Ryan of the Corn Exchange, Dublin), half the audience will sit in Northern Ireland and half in the Republic of Ireland. Actors will approach from either side of the border and the set will feature Tree for Waiting for Godot, created by Turner Prize winner Sir Antony Gormley…
The Beckett Chess Set (created by sculptor Alan Milligan) will be situated on the Middle Bridge over the Termin River (which marks the border) in Pettigo across the festival weekend, with ROI players invited to come and play their NI counterparts.
There are also three full new Beckett productions: The Old Tune featuring iconic Irish actors Barry McGovern and Eamon Morrissey and directed by Conal Morrison; What Where from Kabosh Theatre Company, Belfast and directed by Paula McFetridge; and Not I & Pas Moi featuring a tour-de-force performance by the actress Clara Simpson.
The Portora Readings presents celebrated actors Patrick Bergin reading From An Abandoned Work in the main hall of the old Portora Royal School and Sean McGinley reading the short story Dante and the Lobster in its Endgame-like Dining Hall. Patrick Bergin will also be giving an early morning reading of the dream sequence from Krapp’s Last Tape on a boat among the reeds of Lough Erne.
The 2018 Beckett Reader in Residence at the festival is stage and screen actor Colin Salmon and his participation involves readings at Enniskillen PSNI, early morning on an island on Lough Erne and as a prelude to the performance of Winterreise.
Enniskillen natives, Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar and actor and author Ciaran McMenamin, along with actor Anna Nygh, will offer rare readings of Fizzles from Beckett’s short prose in the crypt of St. Michael’s Cathedral at the exact times of sunset each day (Friday – Sunday), 9.27pm, 9.25pm and 9.23pm.
The Devenish Island Triptych involves audiences travelling by boat to the sixth century monastic site to hear a reading of Yeats’ great poem, The Tower (to be read by actors Frank McCusker and Lalor Roddy), a screening of Beckett’s …but the clouds… and a performance by a string trio of a movement from Beethoven.
And there is more music. Acclaimed Irish chanteuse, Camille O’Sullivan will perform in English and French in the main hall of Beckett’s old school, Portora (now Enniskillen Royal Grammar); mezzo soprano Christianna Stottijn sings the traditionally male role in Winterreise by Franz Schubertand; and there’s a French Song Recital (including Ravel and Debussy) with the baritone Julien Van Mellaerts.
Lughnasa FrielFest: Brian Friel International Festival
9-19 August 2018
Ireland’s only annual cross-border festival returns to Derry/Londonderry, Omagh, Donegal and comes to the Causeway Coast for the first time.
This year the festival explores Friel’s love of Homer with two special dramatic readings of excerpts of his epic poems The Odyssey and The Iliad. Nine excerpts of The Odyssey will take place in a pitched tent on beaches from Ballycastle in Co Antrim to Narin in Co Donegal and feature well-known actresses of stage and screen such as Maxine Peake, Imogen Stubbs, Natascha McElhone, Frances Barber and Jaye Griffiths reading from Emily Wilson’s new translation of Homer’s poem (the first in English by a woman), accompanied live Greek music with Vassals Chatzimakris and Tasos Stavrakakis on lyre and lute and the crashing of the Atlantic waves.
In Derry/Londonderry, actor and master linguist Niall Cusack will read five episodes from The Iliad in a military-style tent on different bastions around the Walls, surrounded on the Saturday by the dramatic soundscape of the Apprentice Boys’ marching bands. It will conclude with a concert of spirituals and songs by opera and gospel singer Ruby Philogene MBE, a first prize winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award.
Another extraordinary group of actors come together in West Donegal across two separate weekends for the festival’s promenade reading of Brian Friel’s four-act masterpiece Faith Healer. The audience travel by bus between village halls to see and hear in Weekend 1, Lorcan Cranitch, Tamsin Greig and Alex Jennings, and in Weekend 2, Rory Kinnear, Laura Donnelly and Toby Jones.
Friel was a great admirer of Russian culture and the festival celebrates this with presentations of four plays connected to Anton Chekhov. Friel’s translation of Three Sisters brings together fourteen actors (including Jamie Lee O’Donnell, Saoirse-Monica Jackson and Terry Keeley) for a rehearsed reading directed by Paula McFetridge.
Game of Thrones star Ian McElhinney features in a rehearsed reading of Friel’s Living Quarters directed by former Associate Director of the National Theatre, Mick Gordon. The Middle Eastern element of the play is acknowledged with a pre-reading performance by musicians from Turkey and Iran, the Coskun Karademir Quartet.
In Moville The Yalta Game by Brian Friel, based on a theme from a Chekhov short story, features Stanley Townsend and Orla Charlton while a reading of Afterplay by Brian Friel is held in a Derry cafe with actors Donna Dent and Richard Henders.
Two of the most exciting contemporary writers for stage and screen – Lisa McGee and Jez Butterworth – will join the festival programme to discuss their admiration for Friel’s work.
The festival closes with a Recital of Russian Songs (including Glinka, Rachmaninov and Rimsky-Korsakov) in the beautiful Orthodox-style interior of St. Columba’s Long Tower Church in Derry~Londonderry given by the Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko.
For further details and tickets, go to: www.artsoverborders.com