In Caves, in Ruins: Place as Archive at the Happy Days Beckett Festival

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Setting events within institutional spaces, found sites, and natural formations, the Happy Days Festival exploits the landscapes of Enniskillen and its environs to great effect. The local geography offers a network of sites which form the backdrop and inspiration for a wide diversity of events. Setting the festival here cites the author’s biographical connections to the place, through Portora School, but also references the geopolitical north-south division which came into being during Beckett’s time there. Yet Beckett’s writing itself tends to refer only obliquely to the specificities of the Irish landscape (and then more usually to Dublin and Wicklow topographies) so that the places of Enniskillen rarely resonate with the work in a literal way.
As the festival events add yet another layer of history to an already highly marked territory, it is necessary to ask questions about the how place is being used, how historical remnants marking the landscape are brought to the fore. Do festivals of this nature animate the historical aspects of a place or do they serve to diminish the fact that the problems of history, such as Ireland’s geographic and cultural divisions, have not yet been resolved? This paper will address the ways in which place is utilised and in turn how place ‘performs’ within the festival’s structure, examining how it exceeds the role of passive backdrop, and functions as sort of geographic archive, feeding a festival short on built places for performance and hungry for resonances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27
JournalContemporary Theatre Review
Issue number1
Early online date29 Mar 2018
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Mar 2018


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