Midsummer Festival set to shine in Cork

Actress and writer Irene Kelleher pictured at Nicholas Street, Cork City launching the 2019 Cork Midsummer Festival programme

Cork is set for 11 days of theatre, literature, dance, circus and visual art to include 25 world, European and Irish premieres as the Midsummer Festival launched today.

The world premiere of Ray Scannell’s apocalyptic black comedy The Bluffer’s Guide to Suburbia is among the highlights of the hugely popular festival.

The Everyman and Rosa Productions will present a new musical, Evening Train, based on the acclaimed album by Mick Flannery as there promises to be events for the all the family throughout the festival.

“Providing a platform to showcase the work of brilliant Irish and international artists is at the very core of Midsummer," said Cork Midsummer Festival Director Lorraine Maye.

"We embrace those at different stages of their careers — offering a launch-pad for emerging artists and showcasing exciting new work by those who are more established.

“There is huge heart in this year’s Festival with themes of love, hope, the joy in simple acts of togetherness, and our need for connection explored throughout.

"With the support of our funders, the festival uses the city as a stage and is programmed in partnership with our inspiring arts organisations and institutions. Together, we are very excited to welcome audiences this June.”

The theatre programme also includes Kaite O’Reilly’s Cosy at Firkin Crane by Gaitkrash Theatre Company, a dark comedy that looks at our attitudes to youth, ageing and death.

Earlier: Reggae royalty, Ireland’s most famous comedy actress and Cork’s first ever Proms concerts are just a few of the attractions at this year’s Cork Midsummer Festival. 

Pauline McLynn and Peter Gowen in The Small Things

Running from June 13-23, the full programme for the event will be unveiled today, but an early glimpse at the lineup suggests the festival is continuing its upward trajectory of recent years.

Among the international visitors to be announced later will be the first visit to Cork by Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. 

Famous for a bass-heavy series of socially-conscious albums in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the London-based poet will be reading at the Crosstown Drift literary strand.

Linton Kwesi Johnson

This year’s festival has lined up a particularly strong theatre programme, including a new Enda Walsh play, starring Pauline McLynn in a very serious role for her second collaboration with the Corcadorca company. 

Blarney troubadour Mick Flannery will also have his 2005 concept album Evening Train turned into a musical stageshow.

Festival director Lorraine Maye promised an “extra special” event this year, adding: “The festival works in partnership with the city’s arts and cultural organisations and institutions to develop the programme every year, and much of what you see in this year’s festival is a reflection of their vision and commitment.”

Selected highlights include:

Literature: As well as Linton Kwesi Johnson, the Crosstown Drift literary strand of the festival will feature the likes of Kevin Barry, Sinead Gleeson and Emilie Pine across a range of events, including a Magical Mystery Bus Tour and a Writers’ Dinner at the Crawford Art Gallery.

Theatre: As mentioned, a feast of offerings include Mick Flannery’s Evening Train at the Everyman, and Enda Walsh’s The Small Things at the Waterworks on the Lee Road, but there are several more impressive productions to be unveiled today.

Opera/Classical: The Stalls stars Majella Cullagh in the third of Cork Opera House’s mini operas that are light enough to appeal way beyond afficionados of the genre.

The same venue will also host the Cork Proms, three nights of music broken into the themes of Midsummer (music by Mendelssohn, Mozart and Vivaldi); Broadway; and Diva (pop, rock and soul).

Dance opera A Different Wolf

Dance opera: A Different Wolf also promises to be an intriguing piece, from innovative companies Junk Ensemble and Dumbworld, augmented by 100 choristers from local Cork choirs.

Other music: Dublin post-punk heroes The Blades, and nu-harp heroines Saint Sister play St Luke’s; while top Polish jazz pianist Marcin Wasilewski brings his trio to the Triskel.

Cork Midsummer Festival runs June 13-23. The full programme will be unveiled this evening (Thursday). Box office now open. corkmidsummer.com

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