Macnas presents Gilgamesh

A Galway 2020 commission

Macnas announce its most ambitious project to date – the world’s first ever hero’s journey – the legend of Gilgamesh. The epic will be staged as four individual events throughout the year, comissioned by Galway 2020 for the European Captial of Culture celebrations.

Masters of storytelling and spectacle Macnas bring a dramatic new interpretation of Gilgamesh, the world’s earliest story, to multiple sites in Galway city and county. Gilgamesh is a young hero king who embarks upon a quest to seek answers to humanity’s fundamental questions about love, power, death and immortality. Macnas will elevate its signature style, taking traditional theatre and storytelling into new outdoor, indoor and digital territories. The year-long epic will bring the contemporary themes of this ancient origin story to life on a never-before-seen scale, inviting intrigue and participation from audiences locally, nationally and internationally.

The world of Gilgamesh will begin to reveal itself to audiences via a series of unannounced live pop-up performances around Galway city and on digital platforms over Easter Weekend (10, 11, 12 April ). On 21 June, Galway becomes a playground of imagination as the wild adventures of Gilgamesh himself come to life on a giant scale when the spectacular Macnas parade sweeps through the streets. Accompanied by a panoply of characters, Gilgamesh descends upon the city on Midsummers Night where he encounters gods and mortals, monsters and marvels, as an epic world infused with magic and mayhem comes to life on the streets of Galway. November will see Macnas move the legend indoors as Gilgamesh, reimagined by award-winning Irish playwright Marina Carr, takes possession of the Black Box Theatre for an innovative, fierce and fantastical season (16-28 November ) that will take the audience far beyond the four walls of the theatre. And on 12 December, audiences journey into the wild landscape of County Galway and witness a fiery, ritualistic close to this legendary epic with an unforgettable epilogue about love, loss and fallen Gods.

With Gilgamesh Macnas will work with a team of new and existing artists and collaborators to bring this ancient story to life. Celebrated playwright Marina Carr is joined by Tony Award-nominated designer Julian Crouch, with music and soundscapes from composer and sound designer Nick Powell and a series of specially commissioned films from cinematographer Colm Hogan. Gilgamesh is created by Macnas, comissioned by Galway 2020 and produced by Artichoke.

As part of the project, the company will also implement a major digital programme on – to include a series of specially commissioned short films – which will allow the work to be experienced by a truly global audience in Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture.

‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ is an ancient poem regarded as the earliest surviving work of imaginative literature. A living, breathing fable like no other, handed down through generations as civilzations rise and fall, the story has maintained relevance and continued to evolve with new sections of text uncovered as recently as 2011. It recounts the tale of Gilgamesh - the two thirds god, one third human hero-king of Mesopotamia - who meets his match in Enkidu, a wild man dispatched by the Gods to challenge him. Along the way, Gilgamesh encounters creatures, kings and gods in a story which explores contemporary themes of human relationships, power, corruption, loneliness, friendship, loss, love, revenge, mortality and death.

Noeline Kavanagh, Artistic Director, Macnas and Gilgamesh director said - “Gilgamesh is a hugely exciting and creatively ambitious project which has given us an unprecedented opportunity to connect with audiences on a truly global scale. With this amazing project, the talent and commitment of the many artists and magic makers who are the Macnas family will be unleashed. None of this could be possible without the support of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.”

Helen Marriage Creative Director, Galway 2020 said - “Macnas is one of Galway’s amazing success stories, a company with a formidable reputation in Ireland and internationally. A big part of Galway 2020’s role as European Capital of Culture is to supporting really exciting and ambitious projects by organisations that can strengthen their local and international profile for the future. Gilgamesh is exactly this kind of project, with Macnas collaborating with exceptional artists and exploring new platforms for their work to reach new audiences at home and abroad”.

For more information about Gilgamesh, please visit: Gilgamesh is commissioned by Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture

Public Funding Partners: The Arts Council, Galway City Council, Galway County Council

Main Sponsor for Gilgamesh and Macnas Community Partner for 2020: AIB Bank

Partners: Smyths Toys, Connacht Hospitality Group, PWC, The Latin Quarter Galway, Acorn Insurance


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