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Date of issue: 22 May 2014
ARTISTS GATHER IN ENNISKILLEN FOR 3RD INTERNATIONAL BECKETT FESTIVAL
Klaus Maria Brandauer, Gavin Bryars, Tacita Dean, Adrian Dunbar, Heiner Goebbels, Antony Gormley, The Hilliard Ensemble, Derek Jarman, Netia Jones, Steve McQueen, Fiona Shaw, Peter Stein and John Tomlinson are amongst the artists featured in the programme for Happy Days: the 3rd International Beckett Festival, taking place in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland from Thursday 31 July – Sunday 10 August 2014.
The Festival, founded and directed by Seán Doran in 2012, is unique in the world as the only festival solely dedicated to celebrating Samuel Beckett through the full range of the arts, including theatre, dance, film, visual arts, literature and broadcast. Events and performances will take place in locations around the island town of Enniskillen and the beautiful surrounding landscape of the lake-district in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, the place where Beckett spent his formative years, as a student at the Portora Royal School in Enniskillen.
•The Festival opening will be a double presentation of Samuel Beckett’s classic Waiting for Godot in two separate productions, one in French and one in Yiddish.
•En Attendant Godot will be presented by Theatre NoNo, based in Marseilles, one of the most exciting new French theatre groups, steeped in the clown and cabaret tradition. This will be the first ever professional presentation of En Attendant Godot in Ireland since its premiere in Paris in 1953.
•Wartn Af Godot will be presented by New Yiddish Rep from New York. Directed by Moshe Yassur, in an authorised translation by Shane Baker, the production attempts to restore ‘Godot’ to its language of origin. The production’s distinguished multi-lingual and multi-ethnic cast will be led by Avi Hoffman at Pozzo, a star of both English and Yiddish productions across the US and also includes 9 year-old Nicholas Jenkins as the boy, making his first visit to Ireland.
Other highlights of the programme include:
•A new production of Samuel Beckett’s one act play, Catastrophe (1982), directed by Adrian Dunbar, Festival Artistic Associate, and featuring the theatrical debut of Ceithleann Island Theatre Company, a company of Fermanagh born professional actors. The play, originally written in French and translated into English by the author, was premiered at the Avignon Festival and dedicated to the Czech playwright Vaclav Havel.
Venue: Secret location, County Fermanagh
•The UK and Irish premiere of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (1958), directed by one of the world’s foremost directors in theatre and opera, Peter Stein and performed by the legendary stage and film actor and director, Klaus Maria Brandauer, making his first appearance in Ireland.
Venue: Ardhowen Theatre, by the Upper Lake
•John Cage’s masterpiece Roaratorio: An Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake will be presented as a sound installation in the spectacular underground caves of Marble Arch, which can only be entered by boat. Excerpts from the dance version of the piece created by Merce Cunningham will also be presented artists from the local Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre in this special location. Produced by the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, and Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre.
Venue: Marble Arch Caves, County Fermanagh
•Heiner Goebbels and the Hilliard Ensemble will present the third and last section of Goebbels’ acclaimed music-theatre work, I Went into the House but did not enter, produced by the Theatre Vidy Lausanne. Part III is based on Beckett’s late prose text Worstward Ho, with its most popularly famous line “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” This will be the last chance to see a work that has been acclaimed by critics all over Europe.
Venue: Ardhowen Theatre
•The internationally acclaimed English composer, Gavin Bryars, will be the Festival’s composer in residence. He will present three concerts in three churches in Enniskillen. The opening concert: Celebrating Godot, will feature his most popular work, Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet in a special performance by the Gavin Bryars Ensemble with guests, Yurodny and The Crash Ensemble.
Venues: St Michael’s Church, the Presbyterian Church and St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen.
•Franz Schubert was unequivocally Samuel Beckett’s favourite composer, and Winterreise his single favourite work. The world famous baritone, Sir John Tomlinson and pianist Julius Drake will perform Winterreise.
Venue: St Macartin’s Cathedral
Rising young opera and theatre director, Netia Jones, will curate a live performance by the Crash Ensemble and actors of Beckett’s music theatre piece for radio, Words and Music, with music Morton Feldman.
Venue: Ardhowen Theatre
•Four leading visual artists will be featured in the programme: Tacita Dean, Antony Gormley, Steve McQueen and Gerard Byrne, with exhibitions in locations across Enniskillen. Antony Gormley’s Tree for Waiting for Godot will be installed at Enniskillen Castle; there will be an exhibition of work by Tacita Dean; Turner Prize and Oscar Prize nominated artist Steve McQueen’s Deadpan (1997) restages Buster Keaton’s film stunt in which a house collapses around – Beckett adored Keaton as an actor and comic genius and cast him in his only film, titled FILM, and Irish artist Gerard Byrne’s photographic installation will be on show at Castle Coole, one of the great landmarks of the region.
During the Festival, there will be an opportunity to view an installation featuring Derek Jarman’s film, Waiting For Waiting For Godot (1983) at St Macartin’s Cathedral Hall.
•In a special international project, Awake All Finnegans calls upon all Finnegans (and Finns) in the world to join in a continuous reading of the whole of Finnegans Wake, starting at 10 am on 1 August and ending on at 6 pm on 10 August.
The programme of talks and special events by leading authors, artists and thinkers inspired by aspects of Samuel Beckett’s work will feature amongst others: legendary pianist, Alfred Brendel, best-selling author and Guardian maths-blogger, Alex Bellos, Beckett’s biographer, James Knowlson, celebrated food writer, Claudia Roden, author and journalist Ed Vulliamy, human rights lawyer, Philippe Sands, academic and journalist Germaine Greer, award-winning author, Blake Morrison, and internationally acclaimed actor and director Fiona Shaw.
BBC Radio 3 has commissioned five essays on five perspectives on Beckett’s life and work. The essays will be presented by five key speakers at the festival and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s The Essay, during September this year.
The whole town of Enniskillen will participate in the Festival, including high street shops and restaurants, which will respond with such ideas as Beckett burgers at the local butcher, barbers doing Beckett haircuts, Clov and Hamm Sandwiches at the café.
Sean Doran, Director of the Festival, said: “We are immensely proud to have been able to establish a global focus in Enniskillen for Samuel Beckett, not just as one of the world’s greatest writers, but also showing the influence of his work on artists in all media. Just as Stratford is the place for William Shakespeare, or Aldeburgh for Benjamin Britten, Bayreuth for Wagner, or Figueras for Salvador Dali, Enniskillen is the best place in the world to host this festival and to bring new audiences to appreciate and enjoy the work of Samuel Beckett in a multi-faceted way.”
Northern Ireland’s Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “Since it began in 2012, the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival Days Festival has firmly established itself on our cultural calendar. I have been to many events, both large and small, and the Happy Days Festival is one that Fermanagh can be proud of. From exciting line-ups, to the friendly staff and enthusiastic audiences, I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Samuel Beckett and I look forward to attending again this year.“
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Fermanagh, land of lakes, mists and legends, and now home to one of the most prestigious and influential multi-arts festivals in Northern Ireland. The first two Happy Days festivals exceeded all expectations in terms of visitor numbers, and international acclaim. The lakes and legends continue to be a beautiful attraction to visitors, but why not also, if even for only a couple of weeks in August: Fermanagh, Beckett Country?
Tickets for the Festival will go on sale on Monday 26 May 2014. For further information visit www.happy-days-enniskillen.com
Happy Days: Beckett International Festival is supported by the Arts Council Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Fermanagh District Council.
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For Republic of Ireland: Conleth Teevan