Belfast Telegraph

Belfast International Arts festival pays tribute to the Bard

Three themes will be focused on in this year’s festival including Bending the Bard, World in Motion and Nineteen Sixteen
Three themes will be focused on in this year’s festival including Bending the Bard, World in Motion and Nineteen Sixteen

By Ann W Schmidt

Shakespeare will take centre stage at this year's Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival - but the performances of the Bard's work will be like no other.

The 19-day event will kick-off on October 11 with theatre performances, water acrobatics, speakers and a variety of musicians. Poetry, music and drama will be used to discuss the history of reconciliation over the past 100 years in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The festival has three themes that this year's artists will focus on in their performances.

Bending the Bard will examine the works of Shakespeare 400 years after his death, World in Motion will look at the themes of migration and refuge, and Nineteen Sixteen will look at the legacy of the war years.

Among the acts announced yesterday was Amanda Coogan, last year's Festival Artist in Residence, who will show off her performance Run to the Rock.

It is a live work of art inspired by translations of Shakespeare into British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language.

Coogan worked in collaboration with deaf communities in Northern Ireland and South Africa to put together the multimedia performance of images, sound, dance and costume.

Neil Webb, the director of British Council Theatre and Dance, said Coogan's project was selected to be developed into a full-production at the festival.

"The artistic collaboration in this project between deaf performers from Northern Ireland and South Africa demonstrates how Shakespeare continues to live in all people and all nations," he said.

The festival will also introduce artists from around the world, including actor Taylor Mac and dancer Faye Driscoll from New York.

The flamboyant and vocally gifted Taylor Mac is making his first appearance in Northern Ireland with two participative concerts. The actor and singer will be joined by a live band and dressed in a dazzling array of costume creations as he explores differing perceptions and attitudes to how history is made, as he examines war, gender, class and authority in the period around the time of the First World War. He will be performing on October 25 and 26.

Award-winning dancer Faye Driscoll will premiere her dance Thank You For Coming: Attendance on October 27 and 28.

Choreographer Fearghus O Conchuir will also put on his dance Butterflies & Bones: The Casement Project.

The work - which contains nudity and adult themes - was inspired by the life of Roger Casement the British diplomat, human rights activist, homosexual and Irish nationalist hanged in 1916 for treason.

The first day of the festival features poets and artists in a programme called In Dreams Begin Responsibilities.

Festival director Richard Wakely said: "With a richly packed programme of theatre, dance and music of all kinds, we are continuing to respond to Belfast's hunger for truly world class arts and cultural entertainment."

The festival will have performances in venues all around the city, including the MAC and Grand Opera House from October 11 to 29.

Belfast Telegraph


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