Poetry of Nobel laureates to be brought to life on stage

Words of Yeats, Heaney and Beckett interpreted in new music and dance performance

Actor and artistic director Cathal Quinn, actor Clodagh Nic Gabhann and dancer Megan Kennedy will perform in Everlasting Voices / Guthanna Síoraí, which centres on the work of three Irish Nobel Laureates, Seamus Heaney, WB Yeats and Samuel Beckett. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Actor and artistic director Cathal Quinn, actor Clodagh Nic Gabhann and dancer Megan Kennedy will perform in Everlasting Voices / Guthanna Síoraí, which centres on the work of three Irish Nobel Laureates, Seamus Heaney, WB Yeats and Samuel Beckett. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 15:52

The poetry of three Irish Nobel laureates will be brought to life this week in a unique show performed in both English and Irish.

Everlasting Voices, a 50-minute production directed by Tristan Rosenstock of TG4’s arts series Imeall, showcases the poetry of WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett.

Theatre company Guthanna Binne Síoraí announced the return of the production today after performing it at the Hyderabad literary festival in India. The show sold out at the National Concert Hall last summer.

The company’s artistic director Cathal Quinn said the show brings the poets’ work to life in the most entertaining way possible.

“We take the audience on a journey through childhood, through to courtship and marriage, into old age. Yeats is a master of old age. Heaney writes brilliantly about childhood and Beckett writes wonderful poetry about relationships.”

Mr Quinn said Ireland’s fourth Nobel laureate in literature, George Bernard Shaw, “was not the greatest poet in the world, so we ended up using some witty aphorisms from him”.

The producers chose texts that represent the common experience of mankind from the cradle to the grave.

Director Tristan Rosenstock says those selected are “conversational and relaxed”.

The performance will incorporate song, dance and spoken word. Guitarist Enda Reilly has put some of the poems to song, and contemporary dancer Megan Kennedy will interpret others onstage.

Mr Quinn promised the show will be accessible for non-Irish speakers. “If you hear it in Irish, you’ll hear it in English as well, so non-Irish speakers won’t miss out. A lot of the Irish is sung.”

According to author Gabriel Rosenstock, who translated the poetry into Irish, great poetry “is so much of the poet’s DNA, own life, personality, pains and sorrows. Any good poem is a distillation of a life. When you bring it into another language, it becomes part of your poetic DNA.”

Mr Rosenstock thinks a lot of Irish people “have the Irish buried in them somewhere.

“Maybe we’ll do a little grave robbing here and resurrect some of that Irish.”

The theatre group hopes this is the first of many performances showcasing Irish literature. Its next show will centre on love throughout the ages using Irish texts.

Everlasting Voices is on at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Trinity College every afternoon from Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th at 1.10pm and 4pm. Tickets are €12/€10.