Irish writers, musicians, singers, playwrights, actors, and dancers will converge in Washington, D.C.’s Foggy Bottom for a three-week Irish festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts next spring.
“Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture” will take place May 17 through June 5, coinciding with the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916, which served as inspiration for generations of Irish writers, including W.B. Yeats, Sean O’Casey, and others.
The Kennedy Center opened in 1971 and has since served as a living memorial to President Kennedy and become the busiest cultural center in the U.S. With more than twenty performances and readings scheduled (not including the yet-unannounced workshops, panel discussions, and culinary events), the festival is the first time an Irish-themed program of this scale has been done at the country’s national arts center.
“Ireland is a nation of storytellers and we have a long history of presenting many of the great stories and work of Irish artists,” said Alicia Adams, Kennedy Center Vice President for International Programming and Dance. “We look forward to presenting the best of Irish arts and culture as we celebrate with Ireland a remarkable journey of the creative arts and expression.”
Playwright Enda Walsh, Irish Tenor Anthony Kearns, actress Charlie Murphy, Riverdance alumna Jean Butler, trad group The Gloaming, and writers like Kevin Barry, Anne Enright, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and Paul Muldoon are all scheduled to participate during the three-week festival. And actress Fiona Shaw will be serving as the artist-in-residence, offering workshops and discussions for local artists, playwrights, and directors throughout.
Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson articulated the long-established ties between Ireland’s Easter Rising and the U.S. “Five of the seven signatories to the 1916 Proclamation spent periods of time in the U.S. that significantly influenced their thinking and actions,” she said. “The U.S. is the only foreign country specifically mentioned in the Proclamation; it has the greatest concentration of our diaspora; and the contemporary ties are of extraordinary depth and breadth.
“This festival will give us an opportunity to express our gratitude for the support that the U.S. has provided to Ireland throughout the last century, and, we hope, will help to renew and strengthen the bonds of friendship into the future,” she said.
Tickets are now on sale. For more information visit the Kennedy Center website, www.kennedy-center.org. ♦