06 Oct 2020
Northern Ireland’s leading contemporary multi-artform festival takes place from October 12 to November 1
From October 12 to November 1, inspirational events featuring dance, music, theatre, film, visual arts and discussion will be largely hosted online, with a small number experienced in-person. The impressive program responds creatively to the current pandemic and explores matters of contemporary interest such as gender equality, multi-culturalism, representation, the climate crisis, and democracy.
BIAF20 will open with the premiere of a new online and interactive theatrical production of Macbeth by local company Big Telly, who have become a world leader in live digital theatre. Opening first to high schools, before being available to the general public from Wednesday 14 to Saturday 17 October, this imaginative reboot of Shakespeare's timeless, blood-soaked tale is performed live on Zoom.
The theatre offering continues with Portuguese theatre maker and performer Pedro Penim’s DOING IT. This livestreamed lecture performance will take the audience on a virtual journey across Pedro’s ‘island collection’, learning about these hidden places and his secret obsession with our planet’s remote islands. The University of Wonder & Imagination by Cahoots NI promises to be a fun-filled, immersive theatrical experience for families, and will be broadcast from an extensive, purpose-built set where magic and illusion have no boundaries.
WATCH: Belfast International Arts Festival Trailer
Belfast International Arts Festival is the preeminent, progressive international arts event within Northern Ireland, actively engaging both global and local communities in the richness and diversity of contemporary arts practice. It creates a distinctive environment for audiences to enjoy and participate in inspirational and transformative aesthetic experiences from world-class artists, thinkers and leaders and this year’s program is one of the best yet.
Highlights also include:
As part of Belfast Music Society’s centenary celebrations, Belfast International Arts Festival will host and broadcast a series of exclusive recitals and concerts, featuring renowned Irish pianist John O’Conor, Derry cellist Kim Vaughan; Ben McAteer, first winner of NI Opera’s Festival of Voice competition; Piatti Quartet, one of NI’s most successful young professional ensembles; and the Ulster Orchestra chamber ensemble.
Spark Opera will sing in four-part harmony the Irish premiere of a choral adaptation of The Belfast Agreement, composed by Clare Salters, who worked in the Northern Ireland Office and was involved in the negotiations. Singing Struggle and Agreement on Wednesday 14 October, will be one of the select live events to take place during the festival, in the impressive surroundings of St Anne’s Cathedral, and will also feature songs of struggle from across the world. Alan Meban hosts a panel discussion with former BBC Northern Ireland political editor Stephen Grimason, former politician Professor Monica McWilliams and composer Conor Mitchell reflecting on the negotiations leading up to Easter 1998, and the role of art in amplifying and soothing political differences at home and abroad.
Conor Mitchell will also treat audiences to a new piece of video performance art as Belfast Ensemble reinvent Beethoven with their new work, Septet (for four), created to mark the 250th birthday of Beethoven.
In advance of its general release in March 2021, BIAF has secured a very special premiere of Call Nina!, which follows the making and touring of ‘Nina – A Story About Me and Nina Simone’, by British actress and activist, Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE, who brought the house down and audiences to their feet at BIAF in 2018. This documentary promises to be as compelling and of-the-moment as the original showstopper.
WATCH: Richard Wakely Director BIAF introduces programme
A special series of art films focusing on contemporary dance will see leading NI dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty in conversation with Italian filmmaker Luca Truffarelli, discussing their relationship as artists and their several collaborations, accompanied by film extracts. As part of BIAF’s continuing partnership with Institut Français, the festival will also host the Ireland premiere of If It Were Love, a film which marks the highly successful fusion of an out-of-the-ordinary dance show, Crowd by Gisèle Vienne, and the hyperlucid sensitivity of filmmaker Patric Chiha.
The BIAF20 Talks and Ideas programme brings together the best of contemporary fiction in both established names, such as Sebastian Barry and Sarah Moss, and the newer voices of Daisy Johnson and Bryan Washington; shows how the political meets the personal, with Stuart Maconie and Jenni Murray; explores the feminist movement with Helen Lewis and Lennie Goodings; and hosts essential discussion on race, prejudice and equality with Kevin Maxwell and Nazir Afzal. There will also be light relief from comedian, actor and writer Robert Webb who will talk about his acting and writing work, and his near-death experience that chimed eerily with his latest novel.
The move of the Talks & Ideas events online has brought about a new cross-border partnership with Westival, an annual festival of arts and culture based in Westport, County Mayo. This partnership is a key feature of IN-visible ID-entities 2, a strand of BIAF programming encouraging cultural collaboration across the island and supported by the Government of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
As BIAF draws to a close, on Sunday 1 November, the eve of the US Presidential election, two British-American experts on US history, civil rights and politics will come together to discuss what brought us to the 2020 US election - and where we go from here. Sarah Churchwell and Michell Chresfield, hosted by The Irish Times’ Fintan O’Toole, will discuss how the history of white nationalism in American politics has led us to this point, and what’s at stake when US voters go to the polls.
BIAF Promo: Oona Luca & Luca Truffarelli
Assets including images and videos, can be downloaded here.
Visit www.belfastinternationalartsfestival.com/2020-festival for tickets and more from BIAF 2020.
For more information, please contact Ruth Moran
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