The renowned theatre and Irish studies company, Field Day, which was founded by playwright Brian Friel and actor/director Stephen Rea, has launched a new series of annual lectures to celebrate the life and work of Derry native and company co-director, Seamus Deane.
The inaugural Seamus Deane Honorary Field Day Lecture takes place at the Playhouse, Artillery Street, in Derry on Saturday 12 September 2015 at 7pm. Entitled “Republics that were and might be”, it will be delivered by Seamus Deane himself.
Deane has been described by his fellow co-director, Stephen Rea — who will attend the event — as “the finest critical thinker to come out of Ireland in my lifetime. He has provided the intellectual framework of the entire Field Day project since its foundation in 1980 and his ideas have been disseminated throughout the world.”
Field Day manager Ciaran Deane says with this new lecture series, the 35-year-old company “aims to bring to Derry some of the world’s leading artists and thinkers who have the potential to make the city an international centre of intellectual discovery every year.”
Professor Joe Cleary of N.U.I. Maynooth, will introduce the event and host a Q+A afterward. The proceedings of the lecture series will be published in the annual Field Day Review, providing a published record for posterity and establishing a legacy for the future. To buy a ticket (£5 Concessions £3) go to www.derryplayhouse.co.uk.
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Seamus Deane has an international reputation in the world of literature and literary criticism. He is professor emeritus at the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and has a prolific backlist of publications, most notably the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry, 1992) which remains today the definitive point of reference in Irish literary criticism. He was a shortlisted finalist for the Booker Prize in 1996 for his autobiographical novel Reading in the Dark, which describes his Derry childhood. He is a co-director of Field Day with actor Stephen Rea and editor of the acclaimed Irish studies journal Field Day Review.
‘Seamus Deane is the finest critical thinker to come out of Ireland in my lifetime. He has provided the intellectual framework of the entire Field Day project since its foundation in 1980 and his ideas have been disseminated throughout the world. This honorary lecture series in Derry acknowledges his achievements and the formative role of his hometown while continuing the Field Day tradition of making Derry a focal point of intellectual discovery.’
(Stephen Rea, actor, director, Field Day co-director)
Field Day Background
Field Day began in 1980 in Derry as a cultural and intellectual response to the political crisis in Northern Ireland. Playwright Brian Friel and actor/director Stephen Rea set out to identify and develop a new audience for theatre. Friel’s critically acclaimed Translations was the first of many Field Day plays to show at Derry’s Guildhall before travelling throughout Ireland and the world; these included world premieres of Friel’s The Communication Cord (1982) and Making History (1988), Derek Mahon’s High Time (1984), Tom Paulin’s The Riot Act (1984), Thomas Kilroy’s Double Cross (1986), Stewart Parker’s Pentecost (1987), Terry Eagleton’s Saint Oscar (1989) and Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy (1990).
From its beginnings as the Field Day Theatre Company, it developed into a publishing company. Its founding members, Brian Friel and Stephen Rea, were quickly joined by Seamus Heaney, Seamus Deane, Tom Paulin, Tom Kilroy and Davy Hammond. Since the mid 1990s, Field Day has become synonymous with the development of Irish Cultural Studies. It has acted as a focus for scholars seeking to question the paradigm of Irish history and literature and in so doing, it has contributed to the international debates in postcolonial theory and various strands of cultural history.
In 2005 Field Day, in association with the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, launched Field Day Review, an annual journal of Irish political and literary culture. The following year, it initiated several book series, the contributors to which include key figures in history, literary criticism, art music and cultural studies.
In 2012, Field Day returned to theatre production in Derry after a 16-year hiatus with world premieres of new plays by up-and-coming Northern Irish playwrights Clare Dwyer Hogg and David Ireland, starring and directed by Stephen Rea. In December 2013, as part of the Londonderry/Derry City of Culture celebrations, Field Day staged a world premiere of A Particle of Dread: Oedipus Variations, a new play by Sam Shepard, who travelled from his home in the States to live and work in Derry throughout the 6-week rehearsal and performance period. The creative team behind this groundbreaking project also included acclaimed theatre director Nancy Meckler and Stephen Rea, one of Ireland’s most accomplished actors for stage and screen. The play was performed by a cast of seven actors and one musician, all from the north of Ireland, including up-and-coming young actress and Derry native Judith Roddy. The play travelled to New York’s Signature Theater in 2014-15, where it received wide-ranging and positive media coverage at a local, national and international level, playing to packed houses throughout the run, with over 10,000 people attending.
www.fieldday.ie for more information on Field Day activities past and present.
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