Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts to host Irish Arts and Letters Festival

The road to Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts will be paved with green as the first of its international celebrations, "A Festival of Irish Arts and Letters," is launched Feb. 27, 2000, to April 8, at various venues in the Quick Center. "The culture of Ireland has been selected in view of its significant cultural and literary contributions to the world and because of the unique concentration of Irish and Americans of Irish descent in the Fairfield University community as well as throughout the region," said Deborah Sommers, program director.

The six-film series will feature speakers creatively connected with the films either before or behind the camera and include, in addition to "The Snapper," "Some Mother's Son," "Into the West," "The Informer" and "The Butcher Boy."

Irish theater, long recognized as a wellspring of cultural excellence, continues to be identified by its artists and defined by the sound of their voices. The Quick Center programming includes two dramatic productions. "Mojo-Mickybo," by Owen McCafferty, a winner at the recent Dublin Fringe Festival, relates the poignant story of two boys, one Catholic, one Protestant, growing up together in Belfast until the "troubles" interject. "Molly Sweeney," by Irish dramatist Brian Friel ("Dancing at Lughnasa"), starring Fairfield's Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon and Milford's Colin Lane, tells the tale of a fearless blind woman, her rambling husband and the dispirited doctor who hopes he can revive his spirit and career by restoring her sight.

In addition, there will be two dramatic readings. Marina Carr's "By the Bog of Cats," a show filled with ghosts and hauntings, is sure to leave audiences puzzling long after the curtain is drawn; and, a new play, "The Prodigal," written by Belfast's Daniel Magee, author of "Paddywack," which had productions in New York and in New Haven in 1994 at Long Wharf Theatre.

Highlighting the musical portion of the festival are the "Three Irish Tenors," Naill Morris, Matthew Gilsenan and James Nelson, who will sing a full repertoire of traditional Irish songs, classical, opera and musical comedy. This benefit concert will include musical selections by Fairfield's own Gaelic-American Glee Club. Both groups have performed for the former American Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith. On April 1, the festival sparkles with the brilliant fiddle playing of Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill. Hayes is considered to be the most important individual musician in Ireland today, and has been named Traditional Music Entertainer of the Year.

No Irish festival would be complete without a visit from Irish dancers and, to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the Trinity Irish Dance Company will kick up their heels and quickly dispel whatever notions you may have about Irish Dance. This performance will be followed by a St. Patrick's Day gala in the Quick Center lobby. Family activities are planned following the film, "Into the West," by Jim Sheridan of "My Left Foot."

Nobel Laureate and children's advocate, Betty Williams, will lead off the lecture series. Ms. Williams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous work in helping to end decades of violence in Northern Ireland. "The Irish Voice in American Literature," will be discussed by Dr. James Mullan, director of the Irish Studies Program at Fairfield University.

The festival will conclude with a poetry reading by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill who has published four collections of poems in Irish, many of which have won the Sean O Riordain Award. She is a poet, author and the editor of the forth volume of "The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing." A visual art exhibit, "Contemplative Myths: Contemporary Irish Women Artists" will showcase the works of seven female painters, printmakers, etchers, lithographers and photographers, and will be on display in the Quick Center Lobby for the length of the festival.

The festival is sponsored in part with grants from the Kevin Conlisk family and the Wild Geese, an Irish-American organization based in Greenwich. For more information call (203) 254-4010 or toll-free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

Fairfield University's Irish Arts & Letters Festival at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts Presents:

"The Snapper"
1993; Directed by Stephen Frears
Starring: Tina Kellegher, Colm Meaney, Ruth McCabe.
2 p.m., Sun., March 5
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre Tickets $5


"Molly Sweeney"
By Brian Friel, Author of: "Dancing at Lughnasa"
3 p.m. March 11, 12, 18
8 p.m. March 10, 11, 16, 17, 18
Quick Center, Wien Theatre
Tickets $20

This Quick Center production starring Fairfield's Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon, and Milford's Colin Lane, is a moving and thought-provoking drama. Friel has composed a dramatic fugue for three voices as three characters face a poignant turning point in the life of Molly Sweeney.
Eight performances, 3-10-00 to 3-18-00.

By Owen McCafferty
3 p.m., March 25, 26; April 1-2
8 p.m., March 23-25; 30-April 1
10 p.m. March 24, 31
Quick Center, Wien Theatre
Tickets $15

Shortlisted for the Peggy Ramsey Play Award in 1998, this drama is a simple, stark tale about the innocence of children's play and the loss of that innocence. Two characters portray a host of 14 characters in Belfast, circa 1970, in a gang hut where two boys' seemingly impenetrable bond is shattered, deeply affecting their intense friendship.
Twelve performances, 3-23-00 to 4-2-00.

Dramatic Readings

"By the Bog of Cats"
By Marina Carr
Director: Margaret Whitton
8 p.m. March 2, 3
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5

The snow-covered Bog of Cats is home to Hester Swane, her husband and daughter, but is ghosted by the memory of her mother. The play is filled with ghosts and hauntings where the harsh landscape reflects the lives of its inhabitants as Hester awaits her mother's return in an Eden turned cold. Debuted at Dublin's Abbey Theater in 1998.

"The Prodigal"
By Daniel Magee
Directed by: June Walker Rogers
8 p.m. March 30-31
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5

This is a new work by the author of "Paddywack," Daniel Magee of Belfast. His play, "Horseman Pass By," was described as "the best play to come out of Ireland in years." "Paddywack," his first American production, was produced in New York and at New Haven's Long Wharf Theater in 1994.


Three Irish Tenors:
-Niall Morris
-Matthew Gilsenan
-James Neslon
Gaelic-American Glee Club
8 p.m. Sat., March 11
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $25

Benefit concert for the Irish Scholarship Committee at Fairfield University - the Father John M. Conlisk Irish Scholarship Fund. The three tenors have a full repertoire of traditional Irish songs, classical, operatic and musical comedy. They will join Fairfield's Gaelic-American Glee Club in concert. Both groups have performed for former U.S Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith.

Martin Hayes, on Fiddle
Dennis Cahill, on Guitar
8 p.m. Sat., April 1
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $25

Martin Hayes is considered the most important individual musician in Ireland today. Named Traditional Music Entertainer of the Year, Hayes redefines your concept of excellence and reveals levels of beauty and artistry that previously hadn't existed in your frame of reference.


Trinity Irish Dance Company
St. Patrick's Day Celebration
8 p.m., Fri., March 10
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $25, $30, $35

Founded in 1990, the Trinity Irish Dance Company quickly dispels whatever notions you may have about Irish Dance. This innovative company is constantly searching for original means of expression while maintaining a high regard for old traditions. Followed by St. Patrick's Day celebration in the lobby.


Betty Williams
Topic: "The Peace Process: How the Arts Relay that Message"
7:30 p.m., Tues., March 7
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets: $10

Children's advocate Williams, who founded the World Centers of Compassion for Children, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous work in helping to end the decades of violence that permeated Northern Ireland. For over 20 years she has traversed the globe working with fellow laureates in trouble spots throughout the world where the cause of peace, especially the safety and well-being of children, is at risk.

Dr. James Mullan
"The Irish Voice in American Literature"
3 p.m., Sun., March 26
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $10

Director of the Irish Studies Program at Fairfield University, Dr. Mullan wrote his master's thesis on James Joyce and is a Yeats and Irish poetry scholar. Dr. Mullan is a first-generation Irish-American. He father was born in Tyrone; his mother's people resided in Cork.


Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
Author, Editor, Poet
Poetry Reading
8 p.m. Thurs., April 6
Quick Center, Wien Theatre
Tickets $10

A contemporary poetry editor of the fourth volume of "The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing," Ní Dhomhnaill has published four collections of poems in Irish, all of which have won the Sean O Riordain Award. Many of her poems have been translated into English.


Based on Roddy Doyle's trilogy, the movie celebrates modern-day family values, Dublin-style. The heroine, an unmarried, 20-year-old, independent supermarket clerk, can no longer hid the fact she is expecting a baby. She confides in her parents but refuses to reveal the father's identity or to consider an abortion.

"Some Mother's Son"
1996; Directed by Terry George
Starring: Helen Mirran, Fionnula Flanagan, Aiden Gillen.
7:30 p.m., Mon., March 13
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5

Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in a British prison when IRA prisoner Bobby Sands leads a protest against the treatment of IRA prisoners as criminals rather than as political prisoners. The film focuses on the mothers of the strikers and their struggle to save the lives of their sons.

"Into the West"
1992; Directed by Mike Newall
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Ruaidhri Conroy.
1 p.m., Sun., March 19
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5

Accused of a crime they didn't commit, two city kids and a magical horse are about to become the coolest outlaws ever to ride "Into the West." Grandpa Ward gives a foundling horse to his grandchildren who keep it in a tower-block flat in Dublin. The horse is stolen and the two boys set out to find it, succeed, and then flee on it. An inspiring story about coming to terms with death, family and friendship. Family events scheduled following the show.

"The Informer"
1935; Directed by John Ford
Starring: Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Dan Gallagher.
7:30 p.m., Mon., March 20
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5

Ford's classic film is an important work of Irish patriotism that is still relevant. Known for his luminescent cinematography which defines the conflicts within his characters, Ford casts long dark shadows into the miserable Irish night to define the outcome of the piece. Plot involves an Irish rebel who, in 1922, informs on his friend, examines the psychological repercussions of his actions together with the guilt he feels.

"The Butcher Boy"
1998; Directed by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Stephen Rea, Eammon Owens, Sean McGinley, Peter Gowen, Milo O'Shea.
5 p.m., Sun., March 26
Quick Center, Kelley Theatre
Tickets $5

An original, whimsical tale of a psychotic boy, Francie Brady, whose childhood is far from pleasant. His father is a trumpet-playing drunk and his mother a manic-depressive who is either contemplating suicide or turning out baked goods at a feverish pitch. The film tears open the wounds of a young soul plunged into darkness because his happy illusions have been shattered.

Visual Arts

"Contemplative Myths: Images by Contemporary Irish Women Artists"
On view: February 27 to April 8
Hours: Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sundays, noon-4 p.m., (during performance days)
Quick Center Lobby
Admission: Free

Anne Stahl's works chart the disappearance of Ireland's bogs. Joanna Kidney creates collages using silks, etc. Lara Cobden combines photography with painting. Alice Lyons is inspired by old maps, manuscripts, and stories from the lives of the saints. Karen Cotter is influenced by urban landscapes and crumbling ruins. Natacha Loyer's muse comes from mountains, lakes and wild flowers. Gemma Seery's unique etchings and lithographs provide a surreal and often humorous interpretation of everyday life.

Visit the Quick Center for more information and box office information.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 30, 1999

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