An industrial school and Magdalene laundry in Waterford City and the people who lived in those institutions will be commemorated in word and performance next month as part of Imagine Arts Festival.

Details of the 15th Imagine event, which takes place October 20-30, were announced at Waterford’s City Hall, and events include theatre, dance, music, visual art, discussion and debate, with a strong focus on home- produced work.

Artists from Waterford and across Ireland will be joined by their counterparts from the US and UK for the festival, which, according to festival director Olllie Breslin, will be an “action-packed” 11 days.

“The streets, stages, and some unexpected venues in Waterford will be transformed this October by a creative collision of the arts,” he said.

“The 2016 programme is our biggest to date and represents another move forward for Imagine and the arts scene in Waterford, which is abuzz with talent and new energy.”

The programme was launched by broadcaster and writer Manchán Magan who described it as “a roll-call of the best of what Ireland is becoming — a socially inclusive, outward-looking society, keen to learn about local heritage and nature, to widen our horizons towards an international future, and to let our hair down and party from time to time”.

Waterford’s principal industrial school and Magdalene laundry will be “potently commemorated” by the Waterford Memories Project through performance, talks, and first-person accounts.

There are appearances from alternative rock, new folk, and political rap artists, talks with and about inspiring world travellers, visionary designers, and pioneers of social history, as well as a hoedown between Rinn Gaeltacht musicians and their Waterford City rivals.

An early morning hootenanny on Waterford’s quays will explore the city’s maritime labour and social history.

Among the highlights of the Imagine programme is the world premiere of The Green One, an opera by composer Eric Sweeney and poet Mark Roper; the final farewell gig of the acclaimed US band Richmond Fontaine; a 1916 gala trad music concert; and the unveiling of a new visual art exhibition curated by Colin Martin.


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