A celebration of Brian Friel’s life and work

Eric O'Brien as 'Jack' with Ciara Callan (Left), Sinead Donegan, Alexandra Lolies and Nicole Farrell in the DkIT production of 'Dancing at Lughnasa' for the official naming of the MacAnna Theatre in DkIT.
Eric O'Brien as 'Jack' with Ciara Callan (Left), Sinead Donegan, Alexandra Lolies and Nicole Farrell in the DkIT production of 'Dancing at Lughnasa' for the official naming of the MacAnna Theatre in DkIT.

The inaugural Lughnasa International Friel Festival (LIFF) which celebrates Ireland’s greatest living playwright, Brian Friel, begins later this week and continues until the end of the months.

In what is to become the only cross-border annual cultural festival celebration, the LIFF festival, directed by Sean Doran, will feature an extensive multi-arts and multi-disciplinary programme of performances, talks, discussions, music, dance and food in both Donegal (August 20-23) and Belfast (August 27-31).

At the heart of the programme every year will be a signature production of one of Friel’s key plays presented in both locations, and from which, the themes and tone of the festival will be drawn. This year it will be ‘Dancing At Lughnasa’, and leading the programme, a brand new production of ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, produced by the Lyric Theatre Belfast will be directed by Annabelle Comyn.

Celebrating the life and work of Friel in the two places most important and most influential to his work, Donegal and Northern Ireland, the two-part festival will respectively be entitled ‘Donegal, Welcome to Friel Country’ and ‘Belfast, Here I Come!’. The physical landscape of these places will be an important element to the overall festival experience with programming in sites including community halls, a pier, a peace wall, an island, a bridge, schools and churches.

Starting this Thursday August, 20 the first chapter of the celebration will open with a journey across the Foyle estuary from Magilligan to Greencastle, Co Donegal, where Brian Friel lives, launching four days of unique events and performances that evoke the relationship between the writer and the place. These include an opening lecture given by Fintan O’Toole at The Guildhall Derry, the setting for Friel’s play, ‘Freedom of the City’ introduced by Gary McKeone*.

The festival then moves on to Belfast with celebrations, many of them free, including classical and traditional music, five open air stages for dancing, a harvest food festival, Belfast’s first ever kite flying festival and Amongst Women, an all women talks programme featuring amongst many others, Shami Chakrabarti, Director, UK Liberty; Kamila Shamsie, Pakistani novelist and commentator; Kathy Lette, comedian and author; Ahdaf Soueif, Egyptian novelist and political and cultural commentator, and writer ,Sandi Toksvig,

In what is to become the only cross-border annual cultural festival celebration, the LIFF festival, directed by Sean Doran, will feature an extensive multi-arts and multi-disciplinary programme of performances, talks, discussions, music, dance and food in both Donegal (August 20-23) and Belfast (August 27-31).

At the heart of the programme every year will be a signature production of one of Friel’s key plays presented in both locations, and from which, the themes and tone of the festival will be drawn. This year it will be ‘Dancing At Lughnasa’, and leading the programme, a brand new production of ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, produced by the Lyric Theatre Belfast will be directed by Annabelle Comyn.

Celebrating the life and work of Friel in the two places most important and most influential to his work, Donegal and Northern Ireland, the two-part festival will respectively be entitled ‘Donegal, Welcome to Friel Country’ and ‘Belfast, Here I Come!’. The physical landscape of these places will be an important element to the overall festival experience with programming in sites including community halls, a pier, a peace wall, an island, a bridge, schools and churches.

Starting this Thursday August, 20 the first chapter of the celebration will open with a journey across the Foyle estuary from Magilligan to Greencastle, Co Donegal, where Brian Friel lives, launching four days of unique events and performances that evoke the relationship between the writer and the place. These include an opening lecture given by Fintan O’Toole at The Guildhall Derry, the setting for Friel’s play, ‘Freedom of the City’ introduced by Gary McKeone*.

The festival then moves on to Belfast with celebrations, many of them free, including classical and traditional music, five open air stages for dancing, a harvest food festival, Belfast’s first ever kite flying festival and Amongst Women, an all women talks programme featuring amongst many others, Shami Chakrabarti, Director, UK Liberty; Kamila Shamsie, Pakistani novelist and commentator; Kathy Lette, comedian and author; Ahdaf Soueif, Egyptian novelist and political and cultural commentator, and writer ,Sandi Toksvig,