First annual Brian Friel festival confirmed

The first festival to celebrate the works of playwright Brian Friel is to take place in Donegal and Belfast next month.

The inaugural Lughnasa International Friel festival, which runs from 20th-31st August, will be directed by Derry-born Sean Doran.

Friel, commenting on the festival in his honour, said, “If you want a festival that is tame and conventional and mildly entertaining don’t ask Sean Doran to organise 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.”

A major two-part festival, it will celebrate Friel, with performances, talks, discussions, music, dance and good food. 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, to whom Brian Friel dedicated his last and final play ‘The Home Place to Gary’.

It also includes a four day summer school at the Redcastle Hotel, hosted by the School of Creative Arts at Queen’s University, with the prestigious annual Brian Friel Lecture, delivered this year by Friel’s long time friend and associate, Field Day founder member, Seamus Deane.

At the heart of the festival programme every year will be a signature production of one of Brian Friel’s key plays, presented in both locations. In the first year, it will be a brand new production of ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, produced by the Lyric Theatre, Belfast at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny from Thursday 20th – Saturday 22nd August and at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast from Wednesday 26th August – Sunday 27th September.

Friel, who’s works include ‘Philadelphia, Here I Come’, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, and ‘Translations’, currently lives in Inishowen, but was reared and educated in Derry.