Lately we have been enjoying the first few sunny days of the year but another real marker of impending summer is the programme launch of the Galway International Arts Festival.
Tuesday evening saw the city’s arts fraternity assemble in full force in the Hotel Meyrick's Gaslight Brasserie to learn the details of this year’s programme. As ever, artistic director Paul Fahy and his team have put together a mouth-watering line-up and “a magic festival” to use his own words from his launch speech.
Among the highlights are the world premiere of Enda Walsh’s new play, Arlington; a new dance theatre piece inspired by the work of architect/designer Eileen Gray in Invititation to a Journey; Druid’s staging of Waiting for Godot; Dutch company Toneelgroep present Song from Far Away; while Death at Intervals, adapted by Kellie Hughes from José Saramango’s novel, will be performed by Olwen Fouéré and Raymond Scannell.
Arlington: (A Love Story ) will be staged in a transformed Leisureland and portrays a strange and tender love story in the midst of a bleak and terrifying world. Written and directed by Walsh, it features Charlie Murphy, from Love/Hate, Hugh O’Conor and Oona Doherty.
Invititation to a Journey is a collaboration by GIAF, Fishamble, CoisCeim and Crash Ensemble. Choregraphed by David Bolger, with an original score by Deirdre Gribbin and a cast of 10 performers, it combines contemporary dance, music, and theatre in a compelling celebration of the life and work of Eileen Gray.
There are plenty of opportunities to shake one’s hips, tap one’s feet and get with all sorts of grooves in the festival music strand which includes hot tickets like Elvis Costello, Suede, Villagers, Imelda May, Mary Coughlan, The Gloaming, We Banjo 3, and Sharon Shannon.
Another stand-out event is One Hundred Years and Four Quarters, an exhibition of stunning new work from Hughie O’Donoghue, one of Ireland’s foremost international artists. O’Donoghue was commissioned to create new work responding to the 1916 centenary and he has come up with a show in four sections, two of which relate to his own family and two to the Irish in Europe in 1916, at the battles of the Somme and Jutland. “This show is extraordinary,” Paul Fahy declared. “It has paintings, painting-constructions and sculptures, which is a new departure for Hughie.”
As well as all the above there is spectacle and street art, comedy, talks, and a host of delights of all shades and stripes.
In his speech at the launch Fahy declared: “The arts and humanities define who we are as a people, that is their power. They remind us of what we have to offer each other, help understand our differences and share what we have in common, they help us understand our history and imagine our future, they are our hope in darker times and bring us together when nothing else seemingly can.”
The programme for Galway International Arts Festival promises to do all that and much more.