Stars align for Brian Friel Festival in NW

Clockwise from top left Natascha McElhome, Saoirse Jackson, Maxine Peake, Niall Cusack, Lisa McGee and Ian McElhinney.
Clockwise from top left Natascha McElhome, Saoirse Jackson, Maxine Peake, Niall Cusack, Lisa McGee and Ian McElhinney.

Some of the most renowned stars of stage and screen are to gather in Derry and Donegal next month as the Lughnasa FrielFest: Brian Friel International Festival returns to the north west.

Some of the cast and the writer of hit Channel4 series ‘Derry Girls’ will be joined by stars including Frances Barber, Maxine Peake, Imogen Stubbs and Natascha McElhone for performances across the region.

The Wooden Horse of Troy will be returning to Derry this summer. DER3317GS105

The Wooden Horse of Troy will be returning to Derry this summer. DER3317GS105

The Festival will take place from August 9 to 19, and will celebrate the work of local playwright Brian Friel.

Arts Over Borders has announced an unprecedented line-up of film, TV and stage actors, which will also include Tamsin Greig, Rory Kinnear, and Alex Jennings and Ian McElhinney.

Events will take place on the Derry Walls, Downhill Beach, Magilligan Strand, Lisfannon Beach and in First Derry Presbyterian Church, St. Columb’s Cathedral, The Playhouse, Magee College, Sandwich Co., Warehouse Café, Foyle Arts Centre, St. Columba’s Church – Long Tower and St Eugene’s Hall, Moville.

This year’s Lughnasa FrielFest also explores Friel’s love of Homer, the ancient Greek poet, with special dramatic readings of his epic poems The Odyssey and The Iliad.

Co-curator Sean Doran from DoranBrowne said: “Brian Friel was a great admirer of Homer’s work, reading either The Odyssey or The Iliad each year, so we will be presenting The Odyssey – a great epic of voyage, shipwreck and homecoming - across beaches in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and The Iliad – the story of the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek kingdoms – on the Walls of Derry, the city with the longest siege in British and Irish history.”

The festival’s presentation of The Odyssey (9 – 19 August) will take place in a pitched tent on beaches from Magilligan to Lisfannon. It will feature highly acclaimed actors reading from Emily Wilson’s new translation of Homer’s poem, accompanied by Greek food, live Greek music and the crashing of the Atlantic waves.

Brian Friel was born in Omagh in 1929 and died in his adopted home of Greencastle, Inishowen in 2015. He was educated at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and taught at primary school for ten years in Derry. In 1964 his first play, Philadelphia Here I Come! won critical acclaim and mongst his best known work is Translations, Dancing at Lughnasa and Faith Healer.

Friel co-founded Field Day Theatre Company with Stephen Rea, and the company subsequently premiered a number of his plays in Derry.

Tickets can be booked at www.artsoverborders.com