Line Of Duty star Adrian Dunbar has predicted a bright future for a literary festival in his hometown after it returned with a post-pandemic boom.
unbar, best known for playing Superintendent Ted Hastings in the hit police drama, has joined the Happy Days festival in Enniskillen to celebrate the work of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett since its founding in 2012. .
This year, he directed one of Beckett’s plays among the ancient monastic ruins on Devenish Island on the outskirts of the lakeland town of Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
Beckett spent some of his founding years in Enniskillen as a boarding student at the Royal Grammar School of Portora from 1920 to 1923.
Fifty years ago, one of Ireland’s other literary greats, Oscar Wilde, also attended Portora, now known as the Royal Enniskillen Grammar School.
Dunbar, who grew up in Enniskillen, joined stage and screen actors from Ireland and beyond for the first outing of the Beckett international festival since 2019.
The 63-year-old told the PA news agency: “The town is a really good place for a festival.
“It has some great places to eat. It has some really cool buildings where we can manage everything and it takes great pride in its connection to Beckett, and of course Wilde.
“My hope is that it will be self-sustaining, that people will continue to come from all over the world like them.
“It lasted 10 years, it existed in Covid, a lot of things didn’t exist in that period, but the festival was and it was back and the fans were back, the Beckett lovers were back. back, the people attached to Sam’s work are back and they come from all over again.
“They will come from the US and they will come from Australia and Japan and all over Europe, and so, you know, I hope that sustains that, but I also want to have more people from Belfast and Derry and Dublin and Sligo, I also want more people from Ireland to come to the festival.”
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Dunbar said he first became attached to Beckett’s work when he saw the play Waiting for Godot in 1980 but said his participation in the festival was the driving force that ignited a deep passion for his work. .
“A literary festival around Samuel Beckett is an absolute no-brainer,” he said.
“He is a role model in many ways. He is one of our heroes and so it is not wise to stand behind it and of course to promote the town and promote this part of the world.
“I am so proud to have come from Enniskillen. This is a great place to grow up as a kid with rivers and lakes, fishing, boats, it’s like the Huckleberry Finn stuff.
“And so I’ve always been very, very happy to promote the town.”
As well as Dunbar-directed Ohio Impromptu on Devenish Island, the five-day festival also hosts performances in a variety of unusual settings, including underground in Marble Arch Caves.
Actors and artists Toby Jones, Dame Sarah Connolly, Fleur Barron, Alex Murphy and Liam O Maonlai are among the participants.
Sean Doran, artistic director of Happy Days, said the challenge of securing funds to make the festival happen made its success all the more gratifying.
“It was a great shock and a surprise that it was real and people were getting up,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of great sold-out shows and they’ll be back, you see the familiar faces, you’ll see a lot of new faces as well.
“We go from year to year. It was a very, very underfunded festival and we arranged the sponsorship together. So it’s all the more rewarding to push the boundaries one way or another, and every year doing so is a struggle, but we get the rewards we deserve from the audience response – that’s it. is what brings us to the next year. We want to be bigger and better.
“I think it’s so important where we, post-Trouble, to have this kind of equal activity, that the locals here don’t have to go to London, New York, Paris, anywhere, to see great artists and great actors. “
Mr. Doran points to the growth of the Galway International Arts Festival as the inspiration for what the Beckett festival could eventually become.
“The business community in Enniskillen here absolutely loves the festival coming back because of the kind of cultural tourists that come, they are very interested in places and shops, buying other things and spending time, etc,” he said. speak.
“So I think it has huge potential and I really want to see it, you know, how the Galway International Arts Festival started in 1985 and look how it came to be. .”
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