The EastSide of the City is getting ready to celebrate the life and works of one of its literary greats – C.S. Lewis. From 19th – 22nd November, EastSide Arts and Connswater Community Greenway will present the 3rd C.S. Lewis Festival. The Festival will not only showcase Lewis’ diverse works and legacy but his strong connections to his childhood home of east Belfast. Through a series of events and activities including talks, film, theatre, arts, crafts, readings, music, workshops, exhibitions, tours and literature – everyone is invited to open the wardrobe door to the world of C.S. Lewis.
Clive Lewis Staples, known to his friends as Jack, was ‘born and bred’ in east Belfast; a place he would often return to throughout his life. His works have inspired a huge number of adults, through his books on theology and literary criticism, and millions of children through his most well-known works The Chronicles of Narnia. A World War I solider, a lecturer at Oxford and Cambridge, an expert in medieval and renaissance literature, poet, sci-fi writer and friend to another literary great – J.R.R. Tolkien – the festival will explore these facets of C.S. Lewis and especially his fond, life-long relationship with his childhood city.
Highlights of this year’s festival include the premiere of The Inklings at Belvoir Players Studio written by Roger Courtney and performed by The Clarence Players. The play will explore C.S. Lewis’ relationship and meetings with J.R.R. Tolkien, and other literary companions, as they shared and discussed each other works. A range of tours (by bus, on foot or bike) will enable you to visit the places that inspired and influenced the young Jack. You can join the Nearly True walking tour with a difference at Lewis’ old school, Campbell College which promises fun for all the family or find out more about the new art planned for the C.S. Lewis Civic Square (Holywood Arches, east Belfast) by taking a bus trip to Burt, Co Donegal, where artist Maurice Harron will showcase and discuss the art pieces being developed.
Through performance, talks and workshops the Festival will explore the spiritual side of C.S. Lewis’ works including; SearchLight Theatre Company’s Questioning Aslan at Willowfield Church and C.S. Lewis & Spirituality with Sharon Jebb Smith at St Mark’s Dundela – a place of huge significance for Lewis as he was baptised there and his Grandfather was the first Rector.
There are lots of events for children too including; readings, arts, crafts and films. Join Tales for Toddlers at Campbell College; take your kids to help illustrator Paul Howard write and illustrate a special book featuring Narnian characters at Holywood Arches Library; or take part in the Aslan Clay Workshop at Strand Arts Centre where you can also watch FREE screenings of The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Make sure you step aboard the Dawn Treader at the themed Craft Fair at St Mark’s Heyn Hall or push the wardrobe door open into the Fine and Dandy Narnia themed craft fair at Crescent Arts Centre.
C.S. Lewis inspired music as well as his poetry works will also be showcased at this year’s festival. Music writer and broadcaster Stuart Bailie will review music inspired by the literary great at Boundary Brewery and Sandy Smith will talk about Lewis the poet at a FREE lunchtime talk at Ulster Hall. Be transported and inspired by other worlds to find your inner poet with east Belfast poet Alice McCullough at Holywood Arches Library. Enjoy a unique pairing of words and music by lamplight with poet Frank Ormsby and songwriter Anthony Toner at Campbell College. Don’t forget to look out for the many FREE Lewis exhibitions including an Ulster Scots Agency exhibition considering the impact of the heritage on Lewis’ life and writings.
Wendy Langham, Festival Organiser, said:
“We are delighted to return with the 3rd C.S. Lewis Festival. Not only does the Festival celebrate all facets of this literary great but will push the door open into Lewis’ world and reveal how he had a huge cultural significance on the City of Belfast, especially the east of the City, and how it had an impact on him. Our diverse range of festival events and activities aims to encourage everyone from across the city and beyond to come, explore and marvel at our connections with this great man. I would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to key funders –Belfast City Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, as well as our key sponsors – whose support has been invaluable in making the festival happen.”
Councillor Guy Spence, deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast City, added:
“On behalf of Belfast City Council I am delighted to attend the launch of the 3rd C.S. Lewis Festival in east Belfast today. With a fantastic range of events and activities to suit everyone, the C.S. Lewis Festival is a great way to get know this literary great and especially his strong connections to our City. Not only did he spend most of his childhood in Belfast but returned throughout his lifetime and often spoke fondly about how the city and surrounding areas impacted on him personally and professionally. I would encourage everyone to support this fantastic festival and congratulate the organisers on yet another magical event which is helping to keep C.S. Lewis’ legacy and relationship with Belfast City alive today.”
Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:
“The Arts Council is pleased to support this annual celebration of one of the most important writers of the 20th Century and son of east Belfast. Lewis’ ability to inspire generations globally through his unique storytelling is reflected in the impressive festival programme which offers something for everyone, including a number of free events. I would encourage all to go along and enjoy.”
For full programme details and to book please visit www.eastsidearts.net. Also follow the Festival on Facebook /CSLewisFestival and Twitter @CSLewisFest.