The theme for this year’s festival may be an international one — but tonight it’s all about Belfast.
Starting on the Shankill, the Spectrum Centre is the venue for a production which explores events on the road from the signing of the Ulster Covenant to the shocking bomb above Frizzell’s fish shop in 1993. The golden days of film return to the Spectrum, formerly the Stadium Cinema, in a show which uses large screens as a backdrop to the story of some of the area’s greatest characters.
A couple of miles down the road at the Titanic Centre, there’s another slice of local history, when Jimmy Titanic follows the story of two shipyard workers who sailed on the Titanic — and still haven’t managed to disembark. Trapped between heaven and the ship, they’re doomed to clamber on board every single day to eternity.
Kabosh’s romantically named Belfast by Moonlight is staged against the splendid backdrop of St George’s Church. Where the River Farset joins the mouth of the Lagan rests ‘the chapel of the sandy ford’. It was on that spot, in 1613, that Belfast’s town charter was granted. Four hundred years later, six spirits gather with a haunting lament in Beal Feirste in this haunting new play by Carlo Gebler, with music from Neil Martin.
Of course, there’s plenty going on tomorrow that’s rooted far beyond these shores. Ever had a conversation with an item of household furniture? That doesn’t involve swearing? If you fancy a chat with a chair, make haste to the Naughton Gallery, where Belgian artiste Lawrence Malstaf’s Conversations involves a roomful of chairs which move and turn as people walk past. And if you sit on one, the others may gather around to chew the cud.
Finally, some words set to music. Carminho, the Portuguese fado singer, is preparing for her first performance in Ireland, when she’ll be bridging the musical genres of jazz, pop, rock and classical to the accompaniment of some stirring guitar.
While fado music is as authentically Portuguese as you can get, the recently married singer insists there is a kindred spirit in existence between the Irish and her own countrymen and women: “There is something in the souls of people who live near the sea, stories about travelling and leaving people behind waiting for their loved ones to return.” Quite.