James Joyce comes to life on Bloomsday

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Phil Dietterich will perform in the Bloomsday celebration on June 16 at the Katharine Cornell Theater. —Ralph Stewart

The 40th annual Bloomsday presented by Martha’s Vineyard Arts and Society will celebrate music, drama, and humor based on the text and life of James Joyce. The event will be at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven on Saturday, June 16, 8 pm. The originator and organizer for this event is John Crelan, who founded Arts and Society in 1979.

Unlike most novels that span months or years, Joyce’s epic novel “Ulysses” all takes place in a single day. Bloomsday commemorates that day in 1904, when Joyce had his first romantic encounter with his muse and future wife, Nora Barnacle. The celebration is named after the protagonist of the novel, Leopold Bloom.

The first known Bloomsday was in Dublin in 1954, where Irish artists and writers John Ryan and Brian O’Nolan organized a tour of Dublin. The tour would start at Joyce’s Tower in SandyCove, where the book begins. Dressed in traditional Edwardian garb, members of the tour would proceed to a number of different pubs along the route Leopold Bloom walked in the book.

The Island’s night of entertainment includes performances from Niki Patton, Gerry Yukevich, Molly Conole, Jim Thomas, Philip Dietterich, and Pam Schnatterly, as well as a world premiere by composer Brian Hughes. Tickets are $25 cash or check at the door; advance tickets are available at the Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven. There will be performances from the many works of Joyce, such as ”Ulysses,” considered to be one of the most important pieces of modernist literature, as well as from his other popular books and collections of short stories.

Conole will be singing songs from “The Dead” from Joyce’s naturalistic collection “Dubliners,” and will be accompanied by Dietterich on piano.

Composer Hughes’ world premiere will be “Anna Livia Plurabelle,” from another one of Joyce’s critically acclaimed works, “Finnegans Wake.”