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Cross-border festival highlighting work of playwright Brian Friel

Ireland's first cross-border arts festival will mark Brian Friel's talent with a dramatic production of one of his most important works.

The Lughnasa International Friel Festival, directed by Sean Doran, will be held in Co Donegal and Belfast next month.

Dancing At Lughnasa, one of the playwright's most influential pieces, will be performed in both locations.

President Michael D Higgins said: "It is entirely fitting that this festival is taking place on a cross-border basis, given (Brian) Friel's experience of living north and south of the border.

"In a certain sense, Ballybeg is a metonym for the island of Ireland, if not the wider world - a literary device through which universal questions are addressed by examining the individual and the local. I wish all those involved in this project every success."

Dancing At Lughnasa, based in the fictional Co Donegal town of Ballybeg, will be produced by the Lyric Theatre Belfast and directed by Annabelle Comyn, organisers said.

The wider festival will include performances, talks, discussions, music, dance and food from August 20 and 31.

Friel said: "If you want a festival that is tame and conventional and mildly entertaining don't ask Sean Doran to organise it.

"Witness his Beckett Festival in Enniskillen - it is wild and imaginative and creative and riveting. I have total confidence he'll do the same with the Friel Festival."

The Belfast section of the festival will include classical and traditional music, five open-air stages for dancing, a harvest food festival, Belfast's first kite-flying festival and Amongst Women, an all-female talks programme including Shami Chakrabarti from Liberty UK and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig.

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