Bloomsday springs again
The 30th annual Bloomsday celebration of the works of James Joyce will be held Monday at the Katharine Cornell Theatre. This long-standing tradition has been organized by Arts and Society which is an non-profit organization that has provided concerts, dramas and literary events since 1978. The organization originated in Boston but has since relocated to the Island.
For those who are familiar with Joyce's work, June 16 marks the day in which Leopold Bloom, Joyce's fictional protagonist in his masterpiece "Ulysses," travels around Dublin in a manner that closely mimics Odysseus's epic voyage home after the Trojan War. Joyce's brilliant choice of encapsulating his novel in the span of one day offers those who enjoy Joyce's cerebral, jigsaw-like prose an ideal opportunity to celebrate the renowned writer's works.
Islanders will have the chance to participate in the longest running Bloomsday Celebration in the world this Monday, according to John Crelan, the event's artistic director and founder of Arts & Society.
"Our event on the Island is one of five others around the world," said Mr. Crelan. "I started this formation of Bloomsday in Boston in 1979, while the other two big events started in 1982 in New York and Dublin. What people forget is that Joyce's work was banned in both Dublin and the United States up until the late 1970s, so these types of events got a late start."
For Bloomsday, Mr. Crelan brings together a group of local and global artists to perform tributes to the late literary master. Much like Joyce's writing, the performances will combine to form a medley of traditional and original performances.
"Joyce was an actor and there is a lot of dialog and drama in his texts that work very well," explained Mr. Crelan. "You don't have to read Joyce; you can experience it being brought to life. Our performers always do a great job."
This year's event will include traditional Irish Bagpipe selections and several originally composed settings form Joyce's "Chamber Music" with the composer Philip Dietterich playing piano. The dramatic portion of the celebration will be comprised of renditions of Father Arnnall's sermon from "A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man" performed by Donal O'Sullivan, Gerry Yukevich's take on "A Mother" from "Dubliners" as well as vignettes of the famous "Ithaca" chapter in Ulysses and the novel's provocative concluding monologue performed by Rose Liberace.
Although even the most proficient students of literature have trouble deciphering Joyce's brilliance, Mr. Crelan challenges Islanders to jump in and experience the humor and passions of Joyce who by most accounts was a juggernaut of style and form. "It's taking a chance," said Crelan. "Some of Joyce's work runs more smoothly than others. I try to avoid those types of things at the festival. When you see an actor do a scene it is much easier to digest."
30th annual Bloomsday Celebration presented by Arts and Society, June 16, 8 pm, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven. $18; $15 seniors and students. Tickets may be purchased at the door or at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven. 508-696-0539.