Festival to celebrate Irish playwright Brian Friel

Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:38pm EDT
 
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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Brian Friel, widely considered to be Ireland's best living playwright, will be celebrated in an annual festival starting this August which this year will include a new production of his most famous play, "Dancing at Lughnasa".

The Lughnasa International Friel Festival will be held in County Donegal in Ireland and in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from Aug 20-31. It will be the first annual cultural festival to be held in both the republic and in the British-controlled north, the festival organizers said.

It will present a new production of one of Friel's plays every year.

This year the festival will open with a trip across the Foyle estuary from Magilligan to Greencastle, County Donegal, where Brian Friel lives, launching four days of events and performances from Aug. 21-23 that evoke the relationship between the writer and his environment.

The festival moves to Belfast from Aug. 27-31, with a variety of events, many of them free, including classical and traditional music, five open-air stages for dancing, a harvest food festival, a kite-flying festival and a panel discussion featuring women from the arts world and literature.

The new production of "Dancing at Lughnasa" will be presented at the Lyric Theatre Belfast. The play, about a clash between the pagan and Christian cultures of Ireland, won the Olivier Award for best play in 1991 and a Tony Award for best play in 1992. Meryl Streep starred in the 1998 film version.

The festival is directed by Sean Doran, who is also the director of the annual Beckett Festival in Enniskillen.

Friel, 86, is not expected to participate, but in a press statement he said he thought the festival would be a success.

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

(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Mark Heinrich)