No catastrophes at Happy Days Beckett Festival opening Opening

Noel Verges as Estragon and Christian Mazzuchini as Vladimir in Waiting for Godot
Noel Verges as Estragon and Christian Mazzuchini as Vladimir in Waiting for Godot

There were no catastrophes this weekend, as the third annual Happy Days Beckett Festival opened, with audiences enjoying a plethora of Beckett inspired performances.

With two productions of Waiting for Godot – one in Yiddish and one in French - the Adrian Dunbar directed one act play Catastrophe, as well as an Irish Circus in the Marble Arch Caves, festival goers had a multitude of performances to savour and enjoy.

A special performance by the Gavin Bryars’ Ensemble with guests, Yurodny and The Crash Ensemble, featuring the internationally acclaimed English composer Gavin Bryars’ most popular work, Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, at St Michael’s Church opened the weekend, but there is much more to come with talks, performances and visual arts to be enjoyed until this Sunday.

The Yiddish presentation of ‘Wartn Af Godot’ presented by New Yiddish Rep from New York will run for the duration of the festival as will Catastrophe, the Roaratorio – An Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake (in the Marble Arch Caves) and Wednesday and Thursday will see the UK and Irish premiere of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (1958), directed by one of the world’s foremost directors in theatre and opera, Peter Stein and performed by the Golden Globe winning legendary stage and film actor and director, Klaus Maria Brandauer (of Never say Never again and Out of Africa fame), making his first appearance in Ireland.

Sean Doran, director of the Festival, said: “We’ve had a fantastic opening weekend with music, dance and lots more to be enjoyed. From the music of Gavin Bryars to our two productions of Godot, as well as talks from the likes of John Simpson and Declan Kiberd, we really have been spoilt for choice. The great thing is there is even more to come with a packed programme running all week. Tickets are still available for some performances and there are of course a range of free events to be enjoyed around the town.”

Funded by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Fermanagh District Council, events and performances are taking place in over 30 locations across the island town of Enniskillen where the Nobel-prize winning poet spent his formative years, as a student at Portora Royal School.

In an exclusive talk for the festival, Australian born writer Germaine Greer will be at Southwest College this Saturday exploring Beckett and the future of the novel. Greer’s ideas have created controversy ever since her ground-breaking The Female Eunuch became an international best-seller in 1970 and this is sure to be a sell-out event.

The Marble Arch caves will play host to John Cage’s masterpiece Roaratorio: An Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake which will be presented as a sound installation in the spectacular underground caves, which can only be entered by boat. Excerpts from the dance version of the piece created by Merce Cunningham will also be presented by artists from the local Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre in this special location.

Heiner Goebbels and the Hilliard Ensemble will present the third and last section of Goebbels’ acclaimed music-theatre work, I Went Into

The House But Did Not enter, produced by the Theatre Vidy Lausanne. Part III is based on Beckett’s late prose text Worstward Ho, with its most popularly famous line: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” This will be the last chance to see a work that has been acclaimed by critics all over Europe.

For music enthusiasts the world famous baritone Sir John Tomlinson and pianist Julius Drake will perform Winterreise. Rising young opera and theatre director, Netia Jones, will curate a live performance by the Crash Ensemble and actors of Beckett’s music theatre piece for radio, Words and Music, with music by Morton Feldman.

Tickets for the Happy Days Festival are on sale now. For further information visit