Happy Days are here again. Third time's a charm for the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, which opens in Co Fermanagh today with an eclectic programme.
Now in its third year, the arts festival celebrating the work and influence of Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett is being staged at 30 venues across Enniskillen, where the writer spent his formative years attending Portora Royal School.
The programme, which runs until August 10, boasts a stellar line-up of Grammy, Golden Globe, Turner Prize and Academy Award winners. They include Bond villain Klaus Maria Brandauer, composer and double bassist Gavin Bryars, opera singer Sir John Tomlinson, actor Adrian Dunbar, renowned academic Germaine Greer, and Angel Of The North sculptor Sir Antony Gormley.
One highlight of the programme is a new production of Beckett's one act play Catastrophe (1982), directed by Enniskillen native Dunbar, an artistic associate of the festival.
For music enthusiasts the world famous baritone Sir John Tomlinson and pianist Julius Drake will perform Winterreise, and exhibitions by five leading visual artists will be featured in the programme: Tacita Dean, Antony Gormley, Steve McQueen, Gerard Byrne and Derek Jarman. The Writers and Artists Talks will give visitors a chance to enjoy a range of discussions inspired by aspects of Beckett's work.
Journalist and commentator Fintan O'Toole will reflect on themes of mortality and death in Beckett's work, while actor Lisa Dwan will talk about performing Beckett.
Festival founder and director Sean Doran 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 Shakespeare, or Aldeburgh for Britten, Bayreuth for Wagner, or Figueras for 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."
For tickets or further information visit happy-days-enniskillen.com
Five top festival picks
1. Festival opening concert – Celebrating Godot – by the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and Guests tomorrow.
2. Veteran journalist John Simpson in conversation with Dennis Murray tomorrow to open the Writers and Artists programme.
3. Two productions of Beckett's absurdist play Waiting For Godot. Yiddish and French. Various dates.
4. Krapp's Last Tape (1958), directed by Peter Stein and performed by the Golden Globe winning actor and director, Klaus Maria Brandauer – of Never Say Never Again and Out Of Africa fame – making his first appearance in Ireland. August 6 and 7.
5. Feminist and journalist Germaine Greer explores Beckett at Southwest College on August 9.