The Wooden Horse of Troy & other epic tales in Derry and Donegal

An Odysseus's like wooden horse, evoking both the sieges of Troy and Derry, under construction in Derry's Guildhall Square on Saturday afternoon last. The structure is part of the Frielfest 2017 'Arts over Borders' event that will run over next week's Bank Holiday Weekend, August 24-28. DER3317GS104
An Odysseus's like wooden horse, evoking both the sieges of Troy and Derry, under construction in Derry's Guildhall Square on Saturday afternoon last. The structure is part of the Frielfest 2017 'Arts over Borders' event that will run over next week's Bank Holiday Weekend, August 24-28. DER3317GS104
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A Wooden Horse of Troy, evoking both the sieges of Troy and Derry, has been unveiled in Derry’s city centre as part of a unique cross-border project during Frielfest 2017.

The Trojan Horse is a concept design by DoranBrowne and over 10 days, sport including fencing, martial arts and archery will take place in the vicinity.

There is also storytelling for children from under the belly of the horse.

Meanwhile as part of the same project, extracts from Homer’s ancient text The Odyssey are to be recited at beaches across Donegal, including Fahan over the coming days by actor Niall Cusack.
The recitals will take place at the beaches of Tullan Strand, Bundoran on Thursday, Narin on Friday, Carrickfin on Saturday, Marble Hill and Sunday and Fahan, Inishowen on Monday.

Acclaimed Irish actor/ director, Adrian Dunbar, will direct the special site-specific adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey on the beaches, presented with food and music.

The events in Derry and Donegal mark the launch of a new ‘Arts Over Borders’ cross-border arts initiative for Ireland to run over the Bank Holiday weekend 24-28 August 2017.

Arts Over Borders builds on the work developed over the last five years by Seán Doran and Liam Browne (DoranBrowne), on the creation of the Beckett Festival & A Wilde Weekend in Enniskillen, the Brian Friel Festival in Derry & Donegal, and more recently their year-long programme for the Opening Year of the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy.

The organisers have said that all these events “aim to highlight the relationship between artists and the island of Ireland, crossing borders and histories”.

The initiative is supported by a set of Irish Artist Patrons including Colm Toibin, Fiona Shaw, Eimear McBride, Kevin Barry, Ciaran Carson, John Banville, Lisa Dwan, Lisa McInerney, Nick Laird, Roy Foster and Adrian Dunbar.

In this first year, Arts Over Borders is celebrating the relationship between Brian Friel and Homer, as it is said that each year Friel would read one or other of the two Homer epic.

Frielfest 2017 will also have performed readings of Friel’s plays in Derry and Donegal: Making History, directed by former Royal National Theatre Associate Mick Gordon (An Grianan Theatre Letterkenny & The Guildhall Derry, on August 25 and 26) and in St Columba’s Church, Long Tower Derry, on the same dates.

Christopher Logue’s unfinished epic ‘War Music’, an account of Homer’s Iliad written over 30 years, will be directed by Conall Morrison in five indoor locations along the Walls of Derry from August 24 to 28.

Prior to the reading of Making History in the Guildhall, Dr. Malachy O’Neill, Provost of the Ulster University Magee campus, will give an introductory talk on the place of the play in Friel’s work and earlier that afternoon Malachi O’Doherty and Brian Feeney debate how history is made and the role of traditional and social media in this.

Speaking about the plans for Arts Over Borders, Artistic Directors Seán Doran and Liam Browne of DoranBrowne said: “Now, more than ever, we believe we need to celebrate the great literary heritage of Ireland, which has no boundaries. Over the coming years, we hope to create a major international platform for Ireland to speak to the world, built on the foundations of its writers: a roll call of some of the greatest in the English language.”

Adrian Dunbar said: ”Brian Friel, I believe, would be excited to hear of our plans to read Homer’s Odyssey on the beaches of Donegal. It was here after all that he imagined them first, lost among the islands or marching purposefully like Spartans to hold the Gap at Barnes Mor. Niall Cusack will be our Rhapsode in the Tent telling the story, there will of course be music and wine and fires lit. Theatre governed by the tides. I cant wait.”

Arts Over Borders has welcomed its new partnerships with Ulster University, the Nerve Centre, Derry City & Strabane Council.