A festival celebrating the work of playwright Brian Friel will be partly held in Derry later this month.

The Brian Friel International Festival will return to Derry and Donegal with a five day programme of music, theatre, readings and outdoor events, from August 24-28.

FrielFest is part of Arts Over Borders, a new cross-border arts initiative for Ireland – a concept from Derry-born artistic directors Sean Doran and Liam Browne that builds on the success of the Beckett Festival and A Wilde Weekend in Enniskillen.

It is run in association with the Nerve Centre.

In this first year, Arts Over Borders will celebrate the relationship between Brian Friel and Homer; it is said that each year Friel would read one or other of the two Homer epics.

Acclaimed Irish actor/director, Adrian Dunbar, will direct a special site-specific adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, presented episodically with food and music on five of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal.

The Odyssey will be recited by actor Niall Cusack and take place on the beaches of Tullan Strand in Bundoran (August 24); Narin (August 25), Carrickfin (August 26), Marble Hill (August 27) and Fahan, Inishowen (August 28) whilst in Derry’s Guildhall Square will stand Odysseus’s cunning idea of The Trojan Horse under the Walls of Derry evoking both the Troy and Derry sieges.

Over 10 days, sports of fencing, martial arts and archery will take place in the vicinity along with storytelling for children from under the belly of the horse.

Frielfest 2017 will also have performed readings of three great plays by Friel in unique locations across the region:  the festival’s signature play, Making History, directed by former Royal National Theatre Associate Mick Gordon (An Grianan Theatre Letterkenny & The Guildhall Derry, August 25 and 26), The Enemy Within with 10 actors from Kabosh (St. Mary’s Church Knockmoyle where Friel was born, and St Columba’s Church, Long Tower, Derry, August 25 and 26) and a promenade Faith Healer in community halls in Glenties, Portnoo and Ardara ending up at the Highlands Hotel in Glenties, the location of Brian Friel’s grave (August 25-27).

Prior to the reading of Making History in the Guildhall, Dr. Malachy O’Neill, Provost of the Ulster University Magee campus, will give an introductory talk on the place of the play in Friel’s work and earlier that afternoon Malachi O’Doherty and Brian Feeney debate how history is made and the role of traditional and social media in this.

Adrian Dunbar said ”Brian Friel, I believe, would be excited to hear of our plans to read Homer’s Odyssey on the beaches of Donegal.

“It was here after all that he imagined them first, lost among the islands or marching purposefully like Spartans to hold the Gap at Barnes Mor.”

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