Enniskillen is set to, once again, host the largest global celebration of Irish Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett when the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival makes a welcome return to the Island Town from 21-25 July with a plethora of Beckett inspired performances.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the five-day Festival returns for the first time since 2019 after a two-year absence due to covid. Beckett spent his formative years in Enniskillen at Portora Royal School (Enniskillen Royal Grammar) and the Festival also marks the centenary of Samuel Beckett’s attendance at Portora from 1920-23.
Back with a Beckettian bang the 2022 Festival will see the welcome return of three Happy Days ‘Made in Fermanagh’ productions of Beckett’s plays that have now become classics in the Festivals repertory; Ohio Impromptu (July 22-24), Waiting for Waiting for Godot (July 24 & 25) and Inferno-Not I (July 21-23) as well as several newly commissioned live performance, sound and film installations.
Getting underway on Thursday 21 July, Festival classics will be performed throughout the weekend. Taking place on the 9thcentury Monastic Devenish Island and directed by Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar, Ohio Impromptu will be presented at the Festival for a record fifth time due to popular demand. The intimate audience (max 48) will be transported by boat at sunset to Devenish Island, for a 12 minute play with two actors – Vincent Higgens and Lalor Roddy – who doesn’t speak a word in the entire play!
‘Walking for Waiting for Godot’ (July 24 & 25) Tadhg Murphy fresh from Conversations with Friends stars alongside actors Andrew Bennett, Ned Dennehy and David Pearse return for the fourth year in a row with a performed reading around Sir Antony Gormley’s Tree for Waiting for Godot and enthusiastic festival goers will once again have the opportunity to experience Dante & Beckett’s hauntingly moving Inferno- Not I featuring Clara Simpson, a cast of 33 readers and opera mezzo soprano Ruby Philogene MBE in the Marble Arch Caves (July 21-23).
Festival highlights include a newly commissioned piece of work which has never been seen before in Ireland. Beckett in Folkestone tells the imagined stories of three people who may have encountered Beckett in Folkestone in 1960 when he travelled there in secret to marry his long-time partner. In a series of three monologues written by Eimear McBride, Helen Oyeyemi and Rupert Thomson, delivered at 3 venues around the town we hear from the receptionist, the journalist and the wedding witness acted on screen by Dame Harriet Walter, Russell Tovey and Jade Anouka.
The Festival will feature a World Premiere of Robert Wilson: Self Video Portrait on Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, in which the renowned theatre director and artist makes himself the latest subject in his unique “Video Portraits”, project. Robert Wilson brought his production of Krapp’s Last Tape to Enniskillen in 2012 to headline the inaugural Beckett Festival as part of the UK Cultural Olympiad celebrations. His new Video Portrait features the dream scene on the Upper Lake with himself as the actorKrapp from his production of Krapp’s Last Tape. It is the latest in a series of Wilson’s Video Portraits that have previously featured megastars Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Isabella Rossellini and Winona Ryder.
This year’s Festival marks the strongest programme in 10 years of Schubert Lieder and art-song with four recitals across four days from acclaimed international singers Dame Sarah Connolly (July 22), Konstantin Kimmel & Ema Nikolowska (July 23), a Sunday Schubertiade with Feride Buyukdenktas (July 24) and Fleur Barron closing with Schubert’s Winterreise (July 25). In addition there will be a reading of Beckett’s short prose by acclaimed screen actor Toby Jones (The Hunger Games, Jurassic Park, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).
This year’s Happy Days Festival is especially significant as it marks the inter-related centenary anniversaries of the publication of The Waste Land and Ulysses in 1922. Modernist poet T.S Eliot was the Editor at The Criterion and published works by Beckett so it is fitting that The Waste Land is celebrated through two new unique presentations in Enniskillen; ‘EAR TO EAR’ (July 21-25), a sound installation by Pierre-Yves Macé and a filmed reading ofThe Waste Land with actors Dame Harriet Walter, Imogen Stubbs, Jade Anouka and Bond movie actors Rory Kinnear and Colin Salmon.
The Principal Partner of Happy Days Enniskillen International Arts Festival 2022 is the T S Eliot Foundation and the Festival is funded by Tourism NI and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.