FOR THE FIRST TIME – IRELAND SAYS YES TO MOLLY BLOOMSDAY AS ANNUAL ULYSSES CELEBRATIONS HEAD NORTH TO DERRY~LONDONDERRY & DONEGAL

  • YES – Spectacle-led, family friendly, international all-female event honours Joyce’s most famous female character
  • Molly Bloomsday June 16th: a special journey from the coast to the city through 18 locations and events
  • World Premiere of The Molly Films: Dame Harriet Walter, Fiona Shaw, Adjoa Andoh, Siobhán McSweeney and Eve Hewson starring in new short films of Molly Bloom’s closing episode of Ulysses (Penelope)
  • No Ordinary Women (NOW): major political and cultural figures in conversation
  • The Sixteen Nations programme: scores of female performers from across Europe to perform
  • O ROCKS! Dublin’s Imelda May to close YES and Molly Bloomsday with special performance, reading and in-conversation.
  • Culmination of 18 city ULYSSES European Odyssey 2022-2024 (www.europeulysses.eu), celebrating Joyce’s masterpiece across 16 European countries

24/4/24 — This year, for the first time, Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce and his masterpiece Ulysses, will become Molly Bloomsday as it spreads north of the border from Dublin for a spectacular all-women inaugural event in Derry~Londonderry and Donegal.  More than 30 female artists and performers from across Europe will converge on Northern Ireland for YES, a new, free festival of female creativity inspired by Joyce’s most famous female character, Molly Bloom.

From June 13-16, 2024, Derry~Londonderry will be alive with dance, music, food, public art, literature, conversation and spectacle, culminating in an epic 18-hour finale transposing the famed Dublin locations of Ulysses to new places north of the Irish border. For details of all events and to book tickets, please visit: www.yesderry.com

Among the many highlights of YES will be the world premiere of The Molly Films, a new cinematic suite giving a fresh presentation of a literary masterpiece and featuring a cast of some of the UK and Ireland’s finest actors, including Dame Harriet Walter, Fiona Shaw, Adjoa Andoh, Siobhán McSweeney and Eve Hewson. Each actress will take one of the eight mammoth ‘sentences’ which form the closing episode of Ulysses, famously known as Molly’s Soliloquy.

Each year, on 16 June, the day on which Ulysses is set, ‘Bloomsday’ celebrations take place in Dublin and across the world, with readings, performances and any amount of costumed revellers hailing Joyce and the book’s central character, Leopold Bloom. This year, as 16 June becomes Molly Bloomsday for the first time, artists and audiences will take part in an epic YES finale.

From 8am on Sunday 16 June to 2am on Monday 17 June, an 18-hour cultural Joycean journey across Derry~Londonderry and north Donegal will see Ulysses’ Dublin scenes re-interpreted across the compelling and evocative urban and rural scenery of Ireland’s north-west. Molly Bloomsday will be a glorious reimagining of Bloomsday in the city’s streets, bars, historic Guildhall Square and walls and the beaches and coastline of Donegal

A freewheeling day of literature, music, food, film, conversation, performance, song and surprises, decorated with folklore, mythology and Irish history, Molly Bloomsday will begin at 8am with breakfast at Donegal’s Iron-Age sun-fort An Grianán of Aileach with a dramatic backdrop of the estuary of Lough Swilly sweeping northwards into the Atlantic Ocean; it will take in the spectacular beach at Lisfannon (known in Irish as ‘Lios Feannáin’), before heading into the city for a packed day and evening of events, culminating in late-night music with Miss Trouli from Athens at the City Taphouse before a final stumble home at 2am the next day.  As in the novel, at dawn (4.48am) the final event of Molly Bloomsday will be the global digital release of The Molly Films.

Among the highlights of YES:

  • ‘No Ordinary Women’ is a mini literary festival all of its own, bringing conversations covering issues affecting us all today. The likes of President Mary Robinson, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Orla Guerin, Marion McKeone, Miriam O’Callaghan, Martina Devlin and two groundbreaking female political leaders yet to be announced will be discussing themes of Women & Leadership, Women & Climate Justice, Women & Resistance, Women & Media, Women & Power.
  • SIRENSCIRCUS will unite audience and artists in a joyous sonic world premiere experience inspired by Ulysses’ Sirens episode through the frame of John Cage’s Musicircus, featuring 200 musicians and participants in Ebrington Square at Derry’s Waterside.
  • An unprecedented and exhilarating event on Derry’s 17th century walls will bring together eight parading bands from both traditions, all playing and parading and providing an immense city soundtrack.
  • A highlight of Molly Bloomsday will be O Rocks! a concert of music, conversation and poetry by one of Ireland’s most celebrated artists of recent years, Imelda May.

The YES Festival is led by female curators Shauna Kelpie (The Sixteen Nations), Martina Devlin (NOW), Tracey Lindsay (designer of The Molly Bed) and Margaret Kelly (Project Manager) and is produced and co-curated by Seán Doran and Liam Browne of ARTS OVER BORDERS, which has developed the ULYSSES European Odyssey with partners across the 18 European cities. Seán Doran said, “In the final episode of Ulysses, Molly’s long-and-winding stream of consciousness begins and ends with the word ‘yes’. This inspired us to pull Joyce’s Dublin-based story north to Derry~Londonderry, where ‘yes’ is used as a greeting, a colloquial form of ‘hello’. While it’s possibly quite an audacious move to take Bloomsday north in such dramatic fashion, it’s not out of keeping with Joyce’s own history. He shifted the nationalities of several of the characters and moved the locations of his own 1914 novella, Giacomo Joyce, from Italy to Ireland, and not all of Ulysses is set in Dublin. YES will be crammed with spectacle. Just over 100 years after the publication of Ulysses, we are excited to be giving Molly Bloom the limelight for once – though we hope this is only the beginning for an annual Molly Bloomsday up North.”

YES is the culmination of the ULYSSES European Odyssey, the largest-ever Ulysses celebration, which began in three of the European cities in which it was written – Trieste, Zürich, Paris – and comes home to both parts of Ireland for the last two episodes.

In mid-1921, as the Government of Ireland Act was dividing the island of Ireland into Republic and Northern, James Joyce was writing the 18th and final episode of Ulysses (Penelope). Joyce was acutely aware of the sober reality taking place in his home country. Particularly revealing in Ulysses’ final episode is Molly Bloom’s pro-Britishness in contrast to Leopold Bloom’s pro-Sinn Fein sympathies. Joyce chose Molly’s fictional birthplace as Gibraltar, a colony.  She grew up in a military family, her father being in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, loved the sound of marching bands and her first two lovers were military men.

Ulysses was originally published in serial form in American literary magazine, The Little Review from 1918 to 1921, at which point copies of the magazine were seized and impounded by the Post Office, which refused to distribute them on grounds of obscenity. Further publication of the novel was banned in the US and UK. Ulysses was published as a book for the first time in 1922, by Sylvia Beach, owner of Paris bookshop, Shakespeare and Company.

FESTIVAL INFORMATION

YES dates: June 13-16,2024 (exhibitions open June 10). For all information and to book festival tickets please visit: www.yesderry.com

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For further information, please contact Michael Barrett at The Press Office: mfbpressoffice@gmail.com or 07813558772.

Notes to editors

Organisations and locations hosting YES events: St. Columb’s Hall, New Gate Arts Centre, Ebrington Square, The Guildhall, Londonderry Bands Forum, Celtronic, Gasyard Wall Féile; Derry City Walls, Museum of Free Derry; the Peace Bridge (Ebrington Parade Ground); Nerve Centre; Arc Fitness; LIttls Acorns Bookshop; The Playhouse; Old Foyle Railway; Holywell Trust; Arras Colmcille; Hollywell Trust;  Derry City Football Club; Millennium Forum; Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny, An Grianán of Aileach and North Pole Bar Inishowen.

The Yes Festival marks the culmination of the ULYSSES European Odyssey 2022-2024, an unprecedented international project which, since 2022, has seen artists, writers, historians and performers gathering in 18 European cities; each city has hosted and created an ‘episode’ exploring contemporary issues, from migration to the environment and disability to global data, with Joyce’s epic novel as the starting point. The 18 participating cities are: Athens, Trieste, Vilnius, Budapest, Marseille, Paris, Berlin, Lugo, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Cluj, Zurich, Leeuwarden, Eleusis, Oulu, Lisbon, Dublin and Derry ~ Londonderry (see below for full list of episodes)

Episode 16 of the journey will take place in Lisbon (8-16 June), where the focus will be on Europe’s ageing population, inspired by the generation gap between Bloom and Stephen in Ulysses. The penultimate episode of the journey (no. 17) will take place in Dublin (8-11 June), taking in such venues as the Museum of Literature Ireland and Trinity College Dublin, before attention turns to Derry~Londonderry and north Donegal for episode 18, the YES Festival.

ULYSSES European Odyssey is a three-year, transnational and multi-disciplinary programme, which runs until June 2024. Highlighting the contemporary relevance of Joyce’s work, partners in each city are taking one episode of Ulysses to explore contemporary issues facing Europe, including citizenship and democracy; migration; youth; Europe’s ageing population; social media; food production and sustainability; education; religion and social co-existence; gender freedom; the environment; mental health; and neighbourhoods and community

ULYSSES European Odyssey is funded through the Creative Europe programme, with additional support from funding partners in each of the cities involved. ARTS OVER BORDERS has received additional funding from Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Derry City & Strabane District Council.

ULYSSES European Odyssey Episodes:

1: Athens – Youth, citizenship & democracy (2022); 2: Trieste – Weight of history (2022); 3: Vilnius – Urban renewal and the reinvention of the city (2022); 4: Budapest – The role of neighbourhood communities in post-Covid Europe (2022); 5: Marseille – Migration, porosity and integration (2022); 6: Paris – Our creative dialogue with the dead (2022); 7: Berlin – Commodity fetish, warehouse logistics and torn dreams of the 21st century (2023); 8: Lugo – Our modern day relationship with food – production, distribution & consumption (2023); 9: Copenhagen – Education reform (2023); 10: Istanbul – Coexistence in modern day Europe (2023); 11: Cluj – What are the dangers that a future Europe must navigate? (2023); 12: Zurich – Is being a European citizen more important than being a citizen of an individual nation? (2023); 13: Leeuwarden – Gender freedom in modern day Europe (2023); 14: Eleusis = Socio-ecological challenges: safeguarding our seas and shores (2023); 15: Oulu – Highlighting mental well-being in Europe today (2023); 16: Lisbon – Intergenerational matters. Europe’s ageing population: a crisis or an opportunity? (2024); 17: Dublin – What is home? (2024); 18: Derry.Donegal – The Future: A Female Vision (2024).

Cross-sector symposia in each city will result in chARTer 309, a new democratic exploration of the relationship between arts and society, to be published in 2024. Thirty artist exchange residencies are also taking place, and 18 writers from different literary genres and each city have been commissioned to contribute to EUROPE-ULYSSES (working title), a new book also to be published next year.

ULYSSES European Odyssey was conceived and originated by Lead Artistic Partner ARTS OVER BORDERS. They have developed the project with Lead Partner Netherlands-based Brave New World Producties, working with partners in each of the 18 cities. ULYSSES European Odyssey is funded through an award from the European Commission’s Creative Europe Fund.

ARTS OVER BORDERS is Ireland’s presenting body for cross-border arts festivals. DORANBROWNE (Seán Doran and Liam Browne) are its founding Artistic Directors. In 2012, Seán Doran created the Bio-Festival model, also the model that led to ULYSSES European Odyssey.  The Bio-Festival is a bespoke format which takes its inspiration from the genius of a single artist (or a single artwork) and their association with place.  AOB’s work is curated with an innovative contemporary sense of place, both rural & urban, throughout border communities and landscapes – In Ireland what AOB now call the northern literary lands of its 11 border counties.

ARTS OVER BORDERS has presented 13 cross-border literary multi-arts festivals in Ireland from 2012-2022 including the internationally acclaimed Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival which brought The Berliner Ensemble to Ireland for the first time (since 1939) with Georg Tabori’s infamous Warten Auf Godot and involved other international artists including theatre directors Robert Wilson, Peter Stein and Max Stafford Clark, actors Toby Jones, Klaus Maria Brandauer, choreographers Merce Cunningham, Maguy Marin and Mark Morris and the work of visual artists Antony Gormley, Tacita Dean, Joseph Kosuth and Steve McQueen. Other AOB festivals have included A Wilde Weekend in Enniskillen and the Lughnasa FrielFest celebrating the work of playwright Brian Friel (1929-2015) in Donegal & Derry involving actors Maxine Peake, Imogen Stubbs, Alex Jennings and Tamsin Greig.

As DORANBROWNE, AOB’s Artistic Directors curated the Seamus Heaney HomePlace Opening Year Programme (2016/17), Liverpool’s Sgt Pepper at 50 Festival (2017) and f r a g m e n t s, The Waste Land Official Centenary Festival across 22 churches in the City of London in April 2022. www.artsoverborders.com

ULYSSES European Odyssey Partners: 

Arena Ensemble (PT)

ARTS OVER BORDERS (IE)

Blaagaard Teater (DK)

Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Theatre and Film (RO)

Brave New World Producties (NL)

Budapest Brand nZrt (HU)

Commune di Trieste (IT)

CHORUS (GR)

Create.Act.Enjoy (RO)

Critical+Xwhy Agency (LT)

Fundación Uxío Novoneyra (ES)

gethan&myles and Collectif ildi ! eldi (FR)

Lumo Light Festival (FI)

Museo Joyce Trieste (IT)

Museum of Literature Ireland (IE)

Noorderlicht (NL)

ONASSIS Stegi (GR)

Rimini Protokoll (DE)

Teatrul National Lucian Blaga din Cluj-Napoca (RO)

Vilnius City Museum (LT)

Yalan Dünya Films Ltd. (TR)