Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Enniskillen hosts Beckett festival

Sean Doran has organised the Happy Days Festival in Enniskillen (Happy Days Festival/PA)
Sean Doran has organised the Happy Days Festival in Enniskillen (Happy Days Festival/PA)

An international festival to celebrate the work of writer Samuel Beckett has begun in the town where the Nobel Prize winner went to school.

Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh is playing host to a diverse, five-day programme of events to mark the life and times of the avant-garde poet, playwright and author.

In one of the more noteworthy performances of the Happy Days Festival, David Soul of Starsky And Hutch fame will read some of Beckett's works. The actor, who played detective Ken Hutchinson in the popular 1970s TV show, is a long-time admirer of the Irish writer.

Authors John Banville and Edna O'Brien are set to make appearances on stage as well. And the festival is set to close in the grandest style on Monday when renowned opera singer Ruby Philogene performs. Philogene is married to Sean Doran, the Irish-born artistic director who has organised the festival.

"This is the world's first annual festival celebrating Beckett," he said. "In the long term the aim is to turn Enniskillen into a major cultural destination. Like Salzburg is to Mozart and Stratford is to Shakespeare, Enniskillen can be to Beckett in five years' time."

The director, who lives in Australia but has based himself in Enniskillen for the last five months to plan the festival, said the events would reflect the many facets of Beckett's artistic achievements.

"Beckett is often seen purely as literary, what with his play Waiting For Godot, but he actually starred in a film with Buster Keaton, he wrote a dance piece and TV plays and he also had a big interest in classical music," he said. "So the festival is very much multi-arts."

The festival kicked off with the opening of an exhibition at Beckett's old school, Portora Royal. Oscar Wilde also attended the school, which overlooks Enniskillen town.

Stormont Tourism Minister Arlene Foster, who represents Fermanagh in the Assembly, helped launch the cultural showpiece, saying: "It is a great pleasure for me to launch such a superb event in Enniskillen, which I hope will soon become one of the most important occasions in our cultural calendar."

"Samuel Beckett has thousands of devoted fans all over the world. This festival not only allows his devoted followers the opportunity to enjoy a series of Beckett-related events, but also ensures those people who are not as familiar with his work have the opportunity to find out more about the Nobel Prize-winning writer."

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