Féile an Phobail’s annual August festival kicks off this weekend with an enormous number of events in and around West Belfast. Flicking through the 100 page programme, there is lots going on, and much of interest. If only Tech Camp wasn’t taking up all my attention next week ...
One of the most bizarre and intriguing performances is the Two Roads West drama that plays out to a small audience in the back of a black taxi. Bill guides Rosie, back after 40 years away in London, as she looks back at her memories of the city. Identity. Politics. Change. You’ll need to book in advance for the Kabosh performances leaving the West Belfast depot and head up the Falls and back down the Shankill. Thursday 30–Saturday 1, Tuesday 4–Saturday 8, 2.30pm, 4pm, 6pm. Strongly recommended by those who enjoyed the trial as part of CQAF earlier this year.
Ivan Little is treading the boards in a new play A Reason to Believe by Robert Niblock. Two lifelong friends have
“shared most things in life - school trips, the BB, the Tartan Gangs, the UVF, and inevitably Long Kesh. Now, 30 years later they live a drab life with nothing to get excited about ... A dodgy past, no future, they need a present! And they intend to get one!”
Performances in An Culturlann Sunday 2 and Monday 3 at 7.30pm; in Welder’s Club, Dee Street on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 at 8pm; and in Spectrum Centre, Shankill Road on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 August at 8pm.
Action on Disability have adapted the The Wizard of Oz and created The Wizard of Falls. Children, teenagers and adults with various disabilities transport Dorothy from the Doyne to the Falls Road. St Marys University College at 7pm on Monday 3 August.
Lara Marlowe has been the Irish Times Paris correspondent for over ten years, She’ll be talking and taking questions about her experiences of conflicts around the world, including civil wars in Lebanon and Algeria, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Georgia and Gaza. St Mary’s University College on Saturday 1 August at noon.
That’s followed in the same venue at 2.30pm by a rare interview with Brendan Duddy, the “Secret Peacemaker” who provided a link between the British Government and the IRA. In conversation with Brian Rowan.
And on Monday 3 August at 1pm in St Mary’s University College, there’s a two hour event organised by Relatives for Justice looking at the recommendations of the Eames/Bradley Consultative Group on the Past, including the investigative Legacy Commission, information recovery and the controversial recognition payment. Guest speakers still to be confirmed.
Irish President Mary McAleese will deliver the annual PJ McGrory Human Rights lecture in St Mary’s University College on Tuesday 4 August at 7pm.
Anne Cadallader will chair a new West Belfast Youth Talks Back question and answer session in St Louise’s Comprehensive College on Wednesday 5 August, 2–4pm. With a panel of community workers, politicians and police from across Belfast, it’ll give an opportunity for young people to deal with the issues that affect and interest them.
The West Belfast Talks Back for grown ups (or is that just bigger children?) is in the same venue the following evening between 7.30–9pm on Wednesday 5 August. This time, William Crawley will herd the political, religious and trade union cats, while Tim McGarry will provide commentary from his black taxi.
Workers from the closed Visteon plant in West Belfast will tell their story at St Mary’s University College at 1pm on Friday 7 August.
On the soundtrack of The Lion King, on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, and now appearing in Clonard Monastery, the London Community Gospel Choir will be performing along with local group Casadh on Wednesday 5 August at 7.30pm.
And if you’re on a Metro route in and out of West Belfast Friday 31, Saturday 1, Friday 7, Saturday 8 (afternoons) you may discover you’re accompanied by the strains of traditional Irish music being plaid live in the bus.
Who wants to be a DJ? Féile FM’s drivetime presenter Paul McCusker is running taster sessions at Conway Mill on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 at 1.30pm.
Sean McKernan (who established Belfast Exposed) is leading Photographic Tours of West Belfast on Tuesday 4 and Thursday 6. Meeting up at Fresh Claim Photography Centre, 48 King Street at 11am, they’ll be issuing black and white 35mm cameras to participants along with some basic photography training, wandering around documenting West Belfast, and the returning to the centre for lunch and a choice of Photoshop or 35mm darkroom skills workshop. Everyone will be given their original work on film or disc, and a selection of the best material will be displayed in the Fresh Claim Gallery.
Now he’s hung up his mayoral chain, Tom Hartley is back at this year’s festival with his two hour tour of Belfast City Cemetery. A published author on the subject, he’ll be telling “the story of finance, empire, the rise of northern unionism and the golden ear of industrialisation in Belfast through the graves of its citizenry”. Sunday 2 August (Jewish burial ground), Monday 3–Saturday 8, all at 1pm.
Over in Milltown Cemetery, Pod Devenney (from Coiste) is running two hour tours of the family plots and republican plots every day at 1pm from Monday 3–Saturday 8.
And there are three hour Coiste Political Bus Tours with representatives from both communities filling you in with the political and historical story of the Falls Road and Shankill Road. Starting from the Art Shop on Falls Road at 1pm on Monday 3, Wednesday 5, Friday 7 and Sunday 9.
(Images adapted from festival programme.)