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Playwright Reading: Michael Punter, Playwright, Bloomsday 16 June 2017 on St Leonard's Beach. Photo by Lucy Brennan Shiel.

Playwright Reading: Michael Punter, Playwright, Bloomsday 16 June 2017 on St Leonard’s Beach. Photo by Lucy Brennan Shiel.

Bloomsday 1066

Hastings is getting ready to celebrate Bloomsday in one of the most appropriate places possible for an important modernist text:  Hastings Library or the Brassey Institute at Claremont in the town centre. Lucy Brennan writes.

If Bloomsday rings no bells, then here it is: it’s the day in which the events of James Joyce’s mighty novel, Ulysses were set on 16 June 1904 in Dublin. All the events in the novel occur on one single day.

Bloomsday for me celebrates the joy of Joyce as an artist. Almost 100 years after its publication, scholars are still unraveling the mysteries, the complexities and the beauty of Ulysses as a book. One of the most endearing aspects of Ulysses is that it is a homage to his wife, Nora – which the world knows but rarely admits; without her presence in his life, it is not inconceivable that he might have drank himself into oblivion. For me as an artist, coming to Ulysses has been an inspiration – and a welcome one. In a world that is creating borders and divisions at an alarming speed ever since the Berlin Wall came down, Ulysses as a work of literature demands community. And a multi-cultural and a multi-disciplinary community at that; a text that is woven so tightly together it commands all the resources of any community to join the dots.

You might imagine that the impact of Ulysses has happened and that it is no longer necessary to delve deep into the fabric of its richly and tightly woven magic. I maintain it is necessary to understand it first hand and to give it time to work its magic. There are many hurdles to get over and it is so easy to get stuck or give up with it.

Last year for Bloomsday in Hastings, a few of us gathered on the beach and later at St. Mary in the Castle for readings and life drawing. Last October, we started fortnightly readings in the Café Grand Rue de Péra in Queen’s Road and have now reached the tenth episode. Our next reading is on the 6 June at 7.00pm, when we recap on the first ten episodes and prepare for Bloomsday.

Photo by Lucy Brennan Shiel 16 june 2017 at St Leonards

Photo by Lucy Brennan Shiel 16 june 2017 at St Leonards

Ulysses takes a very simple idea of a single day and builds an exquisite and extraordinary tapestry, which weaves real life people and events, history, myth, classical references, topography, music, theology, psychology and politics into a range of experimental writing techniques from stream of consciousness, internal monologues and buried facts. Written in 18 episodes (not chapters) over a period of 7 years, every episode is written in a different style, about a different time of day and a different body part. Joyce’s inspiration to write a hero’s journey for Leopold (Ulysses) Bloom is Homer’s Odysseus, in his epic heroic journey to return to Ithaca from Troy.

Bloomsday1066 are delighted to collaborate with Hastings Library this year with a focus on episode 9 of Ulysses, where Stephen Dedalus is speaking with the librarians of the National Library in Dublin about Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hastings dramatist, Michael Punter (Three Kings, Skerryvore) will read from Ulysses, interspersed with Shakespeare’s Hamlet by Emily Carding. Local librarian, Henry Young, will be part of the crew together with other familiar faces who are part of the extraordinary in the everyday of Hastings. If you enjoy dressing up – Edwardian costume, appropriate to 1904 – is warmly encouraged.

The events in Hastings Library take place between 11.00am and 1.00pm on 16 June including a commemorative photo to include everyone present in the library at 12.30pm.

In addition, there is a play reading at The Electric Palace Cinema on 20 June (full details below).

The Ulysses Reading Circle meets fortnightly at Café Grand Rue de Péra, Queen’s Road in Hastings. The Joyce Group is a new Hastings charity celebrating the work of James Joyce through Bloomsday 1066 – an annual event on 16 June that celebrates Ulysses as a book.

Bloomsday events in Hastings: 16 June 2018 – and 20th June

From 11am – 1pm: Celebrate Bloomsday at Hastings Library. 

Readings, Drawing, Commemorative Photograph, Costume and Dress-Up

From 1pm onwards

Bloomsday readings at Kino St Leonards &  screening “The Dead”, based on one of the Joyce’s short stories.

At 4.30 pm

Afternoon tea with Joyce. Music around the Piano at Café Grand Rue de Pera, 73/74 Queens Road, TN34 1RL.

20 June at 7.30pm at the Electric Palace: ‘First Heard’ Evening: a new play is being read – As a Man Grows Younger by Howard Colyer. A monologue about the friendship of James Joyce with Italo Svevo, James Joyce’s friend in Trieste, who was the inspiration for his main character in Ulysses, that of Leopold Bloom.

For more details, visit: Facebook Bloomsday 1066 or Celebrate At Hastings Library 

For info on reading and drawing groups related to Ulysses, contact: email via or call Lucy on 0777 9129924.

Posted 15:26 Friday, Jun 8, 2018 In: Arts News

1 Comment

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  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    Brilliant! Good old Hastings – not just a deprived, going nowhere town after all eh? We have some good stuff here my friends….never forget this…take note Councillor Pete.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Sunday, Jun 10, 2018 @ 20:11

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