Playwright Friel honoured with annual arts fest

Playwright Brian Friel
Playwright Brian Friel

Playwright Brian Friel is to be celebrated with an annual festival – the Lughnasa International Friel Festival (LIFF) - a major two-part festival to celebrate the work of one of Ireland’s foremost playwrights.

It will feature performances, talks, discussions and music and will be held in Belfast and Co Donegal between August 20 and August 31.

LIFF is directed by Sean Doran, and is what’s known as a ‘biofestival’ with all programming having a clear connection to the artist.

It is also the first annual festival to bring both sides of the border together with Donegal hosting Welcome to Friel Country (Aug 20-26) and the Belfast, Here I Come! programme (August 26-31) forming the shared cultural event.

At the heart of the festival programme will be a signature production of one of Brian Friel’s key plays, presented in both locations. For the this year the focus will be a new production of the moving and incisive play about communication, family and sacrifice, Dancing at Lughnasa. This production will be directed by Annabelle Comyn and will be staged at the Lyric Theatre, August 26 until September 27.

The Belfast programme will also feature classical and traditional music, five open air stages for dancing, a harvest food festival inspired by Lughnasa and Belfast’s first ever kite flying festival, Kitetanica, to be held in the Titanic Quarter.

Amongst Women, curated by Liam Browne, is a talks programme featuring Shami Chakrabarti, director of UK Liberty, comedian and author Kathy Lette, retail guru Mary Portas, Egyptian novelist and political commentator Ahdaf Soueif and writer, presenter and comedian Sandi Toksvig.

Commenting on the festival in his honour, Brian Friel 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.”

Sean Doran added: “Belfast has a great tradition of celebrating its talent and the Lughnasa International Friel Festival is an opportunity for the city and its visitors to celebrate the works of our greatest living playwright.”

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