The fourth Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, Happy Days, will take place over two long weekends, between July 23 and August 3, 2015. Enniskillen, in County Fermanagh, one of the most beautiful parts of the west of Northern Ireland, has become renowned for its association with Samuel Beckett, who attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen.
The annual Beckett festival is directed by Sean Doran. With its multiple and atmospheric locations, the festival boasts performances in all of Enniskillen’s four churches, the 300 seat Ardhowen Theatre on the banks of Lough Erne, at Portora Royal School, and off the beaten track, in the underground caves of Marble Arch, on remote islands, and hidden locations in the countryside.
Among the highlights of the 2015 Festival are:
The Berliner Ensemble will make its first visit to Ireland with their controversial production of Beckett’s Warten auf Godot (Waiting for Godot) by the legendary Hungarian-born playwright and director George Tabori. This was his last production before his death in 2007, at the age of 93. It caused a storm when it was first produced by the Berliner Ensemble on the centenary of Beckett’s birth in 2006. (Dates: 31 July, 1,2 August)
Max Stafford-Clark, the renowned British theatre director, most closely associated with productions of new plays, will direct Beckett in a new production of All That Fall, commissioned by the Festival and co-produced with Out of Joint Theatre Company, featuring Rosaleen Linehan. All That Fall is a one-act radio play by Beckett, produced following a request from the BBC, and completed in 1956. It has since been presented on stage including in a production in London and on Broadway, directed by Trevor Nunn, with Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon in 2012/3. (Dates: 23 July – 3 August)
Festival Associate, Adrian Dunbar, will present a new production of Ohio Impromptu, with performances each evening at sunset on Devenish Island, a monastic site founded in the 6th century, a short boat ride away from Enniskillen on Lough Erne. It was first performed in 1981 at the Stadium II Theater in Columbus, Ohio, in a production directed by Alan Schneider starring David Warrilow and later filmed for television by Charles Sturridge in a production starring Jeremy Irons. (Dates: 24 July – 3 August)
France’s leading choreographer Maguy Marin brings her dance company to Enniskillen presenting for the first time in Ireland. May B, a classic work inspired by Beckett’s writing, dating from 1981, with music by Franz Schubert, Gilles de Binoche and Gavin Bryars. (Dates: 24-26 July).
The legendary Irish character actor, Joseph ‘Jack’ MacGowran, (1918-1973), renowned as one of the greatest interpreters of Beckett, will be celebrated in the Festival in a re-staging by Conall Morrison of MacGowran’s one man show, Beginning to End, with Dennis Conway, dramatising extracts from Beckett’s prose works. MacGowran established his professional reputation as a member of the Abbey Players in Dublin, later joining the Royal Shakespeare Company, and appearing in theatre in New York. His appearance in John Ford’s paean to Ireland, The Quiet Man (1952) introduced him to world cinema, leading to amongst others roles in two of Roman Polanski’s films. His last film role was as the alcoholic director Burke Dennings in The Exorcist. (30 July – 3 August)
Uncovering a Beckett rarity, the festival will present a new production of Beckett’s The Old Tune, a free translation of Robert Pinget’s 1960 play La Manivelle, first broadcast on radio by the BBC in 1960. Here staged by Conall Morrison. (24 July – 2 August)
TS Eliot will be the artist in focus this year, following last year’s focus on Joyce and Dante in 2013, as artists with special connections with Beckett. Beckett chose Eliot (along with Joyce and Proust) as one of his earliest literary models.
The Four Quartets by TS Eliot will be presented in two cycles, each poem being followed by one movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 131, performed in Enniskillen’s three different churches, St Macartins Cathedral, St Michael’s Church, and the Presbyterian Church. (25 July)
Adrian Dunbar will direct a new staging of The Waste Land by TS Eliot interspersing the text with commissioned music by saxophonist and experimental composer, Nick Roth. (1 and 2 August)
Actor Neil Pearson will direct a stage production of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson’s legendary BBC show Hancock’s Half Hour in The Regal in Enniskillen. The production is based on his discovery of several lost Hancock radio scripts last year, which led to their revival for radio. (Dates: 1 and 2 August).
The extensive programme of music will include a new production of Benjamin Britten’s last vocal work, Phaedra, a short cantata for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra, directed by Sophie Hunter and starring Ruby Philogene. The work will be presented in the spectacular setting of Necarne Equestrian Centre at the ruined Necarne Castle. Racine’s monologues were the inspiration for Beckett in creating his monologues of the 1970s such as Not I, Eh Joe (31 July, 1 August)