The Belfast festival that fills the belly, the soul and the long lunchtimes and evenings of January returns with a line-up both bold and beautiful in 2011. From January 5-30, the Out to Lunch (OTL) Arts Festival will be offering Black Box audiences the finest choice of live music, comedy, spoken word, theatre and film throughout the first and longest month of the year.
With its sixth programme, the festival has perfected the winning formula of first-class entertainment, amazing food and affordable ticket prices. The recipe couldn’t be simpler: simply select an OTL event, go to the Black Box, enjoy exquisite lunchtime bites and entertainment. Or, if you prefer, attend an evening performance - all for under £10.
The 38 acts confirmed for next year's festival include the finest international talent, including cultural icon, pop star and actor David Soul performing the works of the fearless Chilean poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Pablo Neruda alongside acclaimed guitarist Hugh Burns, while his daughter, the brilliant singer-songwriter China Soul opens for the great man. In an OTL exclusive, it’s the first time that father and daughter have ever shared a performance stage together.
And that’s just the start of the talented musical progeny at OTL 2011: Teddy (son of Richard) Thompson and Justin Townes (son of Steve) Earle join the OTL line-up each with their own striking musical agendas. David Ford makes a welcome return with a set both brooding, tender and bitingly articulate and there is further dizzyingly eclectic musical delights from the likes of Idlewild mainman Roddy Woomble, Special Consensus, Bronagh Gallagher, The Phantom Band, Tucas, Heidi Talbot, Madison Violet, Randall Stephen Hall and Brass Off.
OTL will also welcome acclaimed filmmaker Tony Palmer to Belfast to introduce the newly released Bird On A Wire – his gripping documentary of Leonard Cohen’s 1972 European tour. There’s comedy from some of the finest young stand-ups on the circuit and a few older acts, whilst Guardian doodler Steve Bell, the man behind Blair and Thatcher’s grotesque roving eyeballs and John Major’s giant Y-Fronts, also joins OTL for an afternoon of cartoonish rumination and comic political insight.
In theatre, Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh stalk the stage in The Rare Oul Times, Ken McElroy’s celebrated play about the two Irish literary giants, and the Black Box welcomes back the It Couldn’t Happen Here.
OTL director Sean Kelly said: 'With the economy at the forefront of people’s minds, the arts provide an important means both to explore what’s going on and to escape from the deepening gloom. We think we’ve come up with a programme to suit all pockets and tastes. There may be no such thing as a free lunch but the Cathedral Quarter in January offers the next best thing.'
Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: 'The arts are playing an essential role in the Cathedral Quarter’s rebirth as a vibrant cultural community. The idea of staging world-class affordable lunchtime performances is an inspired way to draw people to the area, particularly from the surrounding offices and shops in the city centre.'
Out to Lunch is supported by Belfast City Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and the Department of Social Development. Check out the Out To Lunch website for more information.