New Yorker Adrianna Dufay and fellow University of Washington Professional Acting Training Program (PATP) graduate Annie McAdams will be debuting their new play, Pippi and Nancy, at this year’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast, which opens on April 29.
In its fifth year, the week and a half-long festival will include an eclectic range of music, comedy, theatre, literature, film, traditional arts and street theatre events performed in the bars, clubs, cafés and streets in the Cathedral area of Belfast’s north city centre.
Irish artist Sean Kelly is behind the festival, which is targeted at less mainstream audiences. The festival seeks to showcase national and international talent in all areas of the arts against a political landscape, with the concurrent goal of stimulating the regeneration of the historic city of Belfast. It has attracted its share of noteworthy and established artists. Last year’s performers included Patti Smith, Billy Bragg, Frank McCourt, Mark Thomas and comedian Phil Kay.
The festival organizers eschew a “celebrity-driven” philosophy, embracing acts such as a Canadian Jewish punk accordionist and a female Elvis impersonator. For many, the festival is considered the “fringe” alternative to the 41-year-old Belfast Festival at Queen’s, an annual fall event.
Dufay became involved with the Cathedral Arts Festival through her boyfriend, artist Mac Premo. For last year’s festival, Premo collaborated with Belfast painter Oliver Jeffers on an installation called “Nine Days,” which explored the city through the perspectives of both a native and an outsider. Dufay, whose maternal family is from the Republic of Ireland, traveled with Premo to help out with the installation. She told Irish America, “I was impressed by how it took over the whole city.” Subsequently, she decided to submit her new play for this years’ festival.
The central characters of Pippi and Nancy are taken from the classic children’s tale adventurers, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking. In the play, they are adults facing real-life existential issues of emotional displacement and disappointment.
Dufay and McAdams’ play is set to run in a bar, which is only a slight challenge to the two women who are used to a bit of non-conformity. After moving from Seattle to New York City within a year of each other, they began a producing company called the Two Tomatoes. Their first production was based on a collection of Mary McCarthy and John Cheever stories called Cruel and Barbarous Treatment, which was produced in New York City by The Culture Project and was hailed as both “inventive and pleasing” by The New York Times.
The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival will take place from April 29-May 9, 2004 in Belfast. ♦