One of Ireland’s leading multi-arts Festivals, the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, has been recognised for taking risks and being artistically bold at a time of austerity across the arts scene.
Organisers of the festival will receive a six-figure monetary boost as the recipient of the prestigious UK-based T.S Eliot Trust it has been announced.
£300,000 will be paid over three years to the world-class Festival which is know for bringing internationally acclaimed acts and top-class performances from across the art world not only to Enniskillen but often to Ireland and the UK for the first time.
The announcement comes just days before the official opening of the 2015 Happy Days Festival which gets under-way on Friday, July 23.
Festival organisers are pleased to confirm that stars of the silver screen Stephen Rea and Kevin McNally will be joining Benedict Cumberbatch’s wife Sophie Hunter, Drop the Dead Donkey’s Neil Pearson and local men Adrian Dunbar and Game of Thrones Ian McIlhinney in the star-studded line-up.
Pirates of the Caribbean star Kevin McNally, who played Joshamee Gibbs opposite Johnny Depp and is married to Downton Abbey’s Mrs Huges will be playing the lead role of Tony Hancock in The Missing Hancocks based on the missing tapes of the much-loved BBC series Hancock’s Half Hour.
Also confirmed is V for Vendetta, Michael Collins and Interview with the Vampire star and local man Stephen Rea. Rea was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in 1992’s The Crying Game. He will be part of a discussion panel on the life of Jack MacGowran, one of Beckett’s favourite actors. MacGowran will also be remembered in the Festival with a production of hisrarely performed Beginning to End. Conall Morrisondirects Denis Conway in this one man show.
Happy Days will present 6 world premieres, including Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall – which will be performed in complete darkness – directed by Max Stafford Clarkand Beckett’s Ohio Impromptu directed by Adrian Dunbar, which will be staged in the stunning setting of Devenish Island, a short boat ride from Enniskillen.
This year’s Festival also sees the first visit to Ireland of the Berliner Ensemble, with their controversial production of Waiting for Godot, alongside France’s leading dance group The Maguy Marin Dance Companyalso making their Irish debut with May B.
For music lovers there is the opportunity to enjoy a 15 minute Opera directed by Sophie Hunter, featuring the award-winning Mezzo Soprano Ruby Philogene MBEalongside the Ulster Orchestra. Phaedra promises to be a dramatic production but also the perfect introduction to Opera for festival and opera first-timers alike.
In following its tradition of celebrating a related artist each year, both Joyce and Dante have been previously represented, the 2015 festival will present two major T. S. Eliot events; The Waste Land, realised at the Ardhowen Theatre by Adrian Dunbar, and Four Quartets in two cycles, the first a midnight vigil and the second a daytime promenade in the Enniskillen island churches.
Speaking on this year’s Festival, the T S Eliot Estate said “The American theatre critic and playwright Robert Brustein, brought T S Eliot and Samuel Beckett together when he called them ‘wasteland prophets of the Western world’. But, here in ‘time present’ it gives us enormous pride and a feeling of straightforward rightness to sponsor Happy Days: Enniskillen International Beckett Festival”
Founder & Artistic Director Sean Doran said “The timing of the T S Eliot Estate’s philanthropy has been critical to our survival and to mounting this year’s festival. As part of the Northern Ireland arts scene and in the climate of the current funding cuts we are extremely grateful for this timely generosity and intervention. The award has essentially helped to secure three more years for the festival alongside the continued support of our existing Partners and Donors. It has put much needed wind in our sails”.
The Festival which is now in its 4th year, is the first of its kind to celebrate Beckett across all the art forms and is the first new international multi-arts Festival to be established in Northern Ireland since the founding of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s in 1962.
The T S Eliot Estate joins the three existing Principal Partners of Happy Days EIBF: Tourism NI, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
Tickets are now available. To book call 028 66325440 or see www.happy-days-enniskillen.