River Liffey’s Run at Dublin Theatre Festival

DTF riverrun Ros Kavanagh

A show in this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival features the Liffey as one of its main characters. “The Irish name for the Liffey is Life,” says Olwen Fouéré, writer, director and the only performer of Riverrun. “She is the river that flows through Dublin, she is also all the rivers of the world, including our body’s bloodstream.”

Adapted from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake in which the Liffey is embodied in the voice of Anna Livia Plurabelle, the show can be seen from October 2nd to 6th at Project Arts Centre, Dublin.

Fouéré has always been interested in the language of Finnegan’s Wake as potential material for performance. Two years ago, when in Sydney, Australia, she gave a reading from it. “I read the last page, where the river dissolves into the ocean, and I knew there and then, in the middle of the reading that something extraordinary was happening and the voice of the river would be my next project.”

She began working with the idea, researching and carving her own journey through the text. Having gathered a team of collaborators together, they performed various readings in Dublin, Paris, Lyon and Galway during the two years of its development. Each performance continues to be different, depending on the location, audience or the way it flows on the night.

Joyce wrote this, his final book, in Paris over a period of 17 years. It was published in 1939, two years before the author’s death. A notoriously difficult book, Finnegan’s Wake is a linguistic journey, a place where language loses meaning and instead becomes a “sound dance”. So does one need to have read Joyce’s work to enjoy the play NewsFour asked Olwen, “Absolutely not. In fact, not knowing it may even be the best way to experience the performance.”

This year’s Dublin Theatre Festival will run from 26 September to 13 October. Tickets can be booked at www.dublintheatrefestival.com

Above: Olwen Fouéré. Photo by Ros Kavanagh

By Emma Dwyer