IRISH actor Stephen Rea will be honoured at Listowel Writer’s Week with the John B. Keane Lifetime Achievement Award.
Organisers confirmed this week that the Belfast native will be presented with his award and a citation on the opening night of the popular annual literary event, which takes place from May 31 until June 4.
Mr Rea’s citation will “celebrate his contribution to Irish theatre”, they organisers confirm.
“Having worked with Nobel Prize winners Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter—playing Clov in Beckett’s Endgame in the Royal Court Theatre in 1976, with Beckett himself present in the rehearsals - Stephen Rea’s theatre credits places him among the most important actors of the last fifty years,” they explain.
“The citation and celebrations will have a particular focus on his work as a founding member of Field Day Theatre Company, along with Brian Friel,” they add.
“With 2023 being the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, and with responses to Brexit causing political impasses on the island, Stephen’s Field Day Theatre Company work is as relevant as ever.”
Stephen Connolly, recently-appointed Festival Curator at Listowel Writers’ Week, said:
“To be able to be part of the process to honour Stephen Rea for his ground-breaking work in Irish theatre, and in particular the Field Day Theatre Company, has refreshed my commitment to the cause of Irish writing and its ability to open new ways of thinking about the world around us.
“His contribution to Irish culture and how we, as Irish people, are seen around the globe, cannot be overstated,” he added.
Catherine Moylan, Chair of Writers’ Week, also paid tribute to Mr Rea, claiming: “We are delighted at the opportunity to celebrate Stephen Rea’s many achievements and acknowledge his generous contribution to the arts; his role as an actor, patron and contributor to the arts spans over six decades and we look forward to celebrating the John B.Keane Lifetime Achievement Award with him in Listowel this June.”
Listowel Writer’s Week was founded in 1970 to celebrate established Irish talent while also encouraging new writers.
The first festival took place in the picturesque Co. Kerry town in 1971 and among the founding members were John B Keane, Bryan MacMahon & Brendan Kennelly.
For 2023 the first poet who will read on the first day of the festival, after the opening night, is William Keohane, a young writer from Limerick.
That evening (June 1) Mr Rea will lead a staged reading from The Translations of Seamus Heaney.
“This comprehensive landmark volume, the result of many years of scholarship by editor Marco Sonzogni, is published by Faber and Faber and includes works translated from Irish, Latin, Greek and many European languages,” a Listowel Writer’s Week spokesperson explained.
“It includes The Cure at Troy, a translation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, a play first directed by Stephen Rea for Field Day Theatre Company.
“It will also feature Seamus O’Hara, who played Manus in the recent National Theatre production of Brian Friel’s Translations, along with leading poets Victoria Kennefick, Ciara Ní É and Seán Hewitt.”
Other festival highlights include a headline poetry reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Muldoon, who was recently appointed as the Professor of Poetry for Ireland.
Elsewehre 2022 US National Book Award for Fiction winner Tess Gunty, author of The Rabbit Hutch, and Jean Hanff Korelitz, author of The Latecomer and The Plot, will be in conversation with A Crooked Tree author Una Mannion.
Paul Muldoon will be in conversation with Irish music icon Paul Brady about his autobiography Crazy Dreams.
Debut Belfast novelist Michael Magee and Acts of Desperation author Megan Nolan will be in conversation with Trespasses author Louise Kennedy.
This year’s Writers’ Week will also feature a “galaxy of small-scale events in cafés, pubs, restaurants” the organisers confirm.
A full schedule, including the closing night fiction headline writer, will be released in early spring, which will include poetry workshops led by Rooney Prize-winning Stephen Sexton, Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Tess Taylor and fiction workshops with Wendy Erskine and Susannah Dickey.
Tickets and further information available here.