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Review: Belfast International Arts Festival: In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

The sold out event - 'In Dreams Begin Responsibilities' (its title taken from a line by WB Yeats) - foregrounded a theme of reconciliation, taking place 100 years after the Easter Rising and 18 years after the Good Friday Agreement. 
Tara McEvoy

THE latest Belfast International Arts Festival kicked off on Tuesday evening with a multi-faceted and enjoyable evening of poetry, music, drama and visual art, curated by Poetry Ireland and directed by Lynn Parker, in the MAC.

The sold out event - 'In Dreams Begin Responsibilities' (its title taken from a line by W.B. Yeats) - foregrounded a theme of reconciliation, taking place 100 years after the Easter Rising and 18 years after the Good Friday Agreement.

Host Olivia O'Leary began the evening by arguing that "words really matter" when it comes to reconciliation, that sensitive use of language is paramount in our attempts to heal division. 

The programme, then, drew on texts by some of Ireland's best wordsmiths, gesturing towards the ways in which they have attempted to imagine the nation and its conflicts of the past century, through poetry, prose and plays.

Organisers managed to pack an impressive amount into the evening, which featured readings by Michael Longley, Colette Bryce, Aidan Gillen and Linda Ervine amongst others.

Alongside modern classics such as Longley's 'Ceasefire', Paul Muldoon's 'Anseo' and an extract from Brian Friel's Freedom of the City, the selection of works read included lesser-known pieces such as writings by Janet Shepperson, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, and Padraic Fiacc, which elicited positive responses from the capacity crowd.

Readings were interspersed with music from Kevin Doherty, Katie Richardson, the Telegraph Band and Neil Martin; as the house lights rose to a rendition of Van Morrison's Bright Side of the Road, the performers were met with much applause.

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