Belfast Festival Announced for 2016

The first acts and dates have been revealed for this year's edition of the city's autumn arts mainstay

Belfast International Arts Festival has announced its provisional dates for this year to be from Tuesday, October 11 to Saturday, October 30 inclusive.

The festival has also unveiled two separate and major commissions for new creative works from internationally acclaimed artists, Taylor Mac (USA) and Amanda Coogan (Ireland) to feature as signature events in the 2016 edition.

In his first Northern Ireland appearance, the Obie Award-winning New York performer Taylor Mac will present The WW1 Years and More, a series of special, participative concerts, as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary.

In two concerts, his astute take on music and culture spans the years before, during and after the First World War from 1896 through to 1926. His third concert will be a ten-decade spectacular from 1916, the year of the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising, through to 2016.

Accompanied by a live band and dressed in a dazzling array of costume creations, Mac will reflect on notions of authority, class, empire, gender, patriotism and war, and differing perceptions and attitudes to how history is made and viewed. This event has been co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions.

Taylor Mac

New York performance artist Taylor Mac will appear in Northern Ireland for the first time

Run to the Rock is a new, multi-faceted live art work directed and designed by critically acclaimed live art practitioner, Amanda Coogan and involving deaf performers from Northern Ireland and South Africa. The production is a meditation on Shakespeare’s text inspired by Sonny Venkatrathnam's Robben Island Bible and the choreographic potential of sign language, which is at the core of the creative process.

Using sections of texts as marked out in the Shakespeare book, Run to the Rock weaves a narrative of struggle for recognition, power balance and instability that springs from his continuing political relevance. The production will be cross-disciplinary, using live multi-media messaging, projected images, sound and choreographed movements that spring from translations of Shakespeare's texts into sign language.

This work has been generously informed by collaborators Educape and Jazz Hands, based in South Africa, and commissioned by the British Council’s Shakespeare Reworked programme, a funding opportunity for UK-based artists and companies to develop innovative projects which respond to, reinterpret or are inspired by the works of Shakespeare in a global context.

Shakespeare Reworked is part of Shakespeare Lives, a major global programme of international events and activities celebrating Shakespeare’s work on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

Festival Director Richard Wakely said: 'The Belfast International Arts Festival is a place for artists and audiences to come together and to explore and exchange ideas through creative practice.

'Taylor Mac and Amanda Coogan are leading artists of our time whose new works for the festival illuminate important issues in our world and inspire us to consider how we might best respond accordingly.'

The full festival programme is due to be revealed later in the year, with booking available for some events from April. For the latest news and updates visit www.belfastinternationalartsfestival.com and follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter.