One of the highlights of the Eastside Arts Festival (2-12 August) is the premiere of Jimmy Ellis: Home Again, an auto-biographical reflection of the late actor’s family home in east Belfast at 30 Park Avenue during his childhood. The performance will take place at St Martin’s Church, east Belfast, on 2 & 4th August.
It stars Stuart Graham (The Fall, Hunger) and Fra Fee (Les Miserables, The Ferryman) who will both play Jimmy at different stages of his life and Michael Nevin (My Mother and Other Strangers) who will play Jimmy as an 8-year old child during the war. Katie Tumelty (Fly me to the Moon, Divorcing Jack) plays Jimmy’s mother Tilly and local musician Clare Galway plays his sister Eileen. It has been adapted and directed by novelist and director of the Seamus Heaney Centre, Glenn Patterson and is produced by Blunt Fringe.
Jimmy Ellis: Home Again combines poetry and live music to recreate and celebrate Jimmy’s family and the characters who informed his own life as well as the lodgers who inhabited the house at Park Avenue during the war years.
Jimmy Ellis has long been held in fond esteem in Northern Ireland, and by everyone who knew and worked with him.
Long-time friend of Jimmy’s Adrian Dunbar sent a message to Jimmy’s widow Robina Ellis saying:
“The great Marlon Brando once said that Nostalgia is the most powerful drug of them all … I can only imagine the powerful spell the works and voice of Jimmy Ellis will have on those lucky enough to attend Jimmy Ellis: Home Again.”
This project has been supported by Belfast-based engineering firm Arup who have partnered with Blunt Fringe for the last few years to support their programme of work. Together they have helped to raise almost £25,000 for local charities through an annual charity concert and this year the partnership will help to bring a number of new projects to life including Jimmy Ellis: Home Again.
Claire Murray from Blunt Fringe said:
“We feel very privileged to be working on such a special project, and are very excited about bringing Jimmy’s words to life in this new production with the help of people who knew and admired him. Jimmy paved the way for many actors from Northern Ireland to be recognised in the wider world stage and his own story adds to the narrative of Belfast as an immensely rich artistic hub. We are very grateful to have the support of Arup’s team in Belfast to help us bring this work to this stage”.
Rachel Kennedy, EastSide Arts Festival Director commented:
“We were delighted and thrilled to be working with Blunt Fringe to host this very special rehearsed reading of Jimmy Ellis: Home Again. In the unique surroundings of St Martin’s church, audiences will be transported back to the war time era of east Belfast and hear about the characters and music that impacted on a young Jimmy Ellis. We are very privileged to be given this opportunity to show this theatrical work in development and to share it with our audiences. This is certainly an event not to be missed.”
A rehearsed reading of Jimmy Ellis: Home Again is presented as part of the Eastside Arts Festival on 2nd & 4th August 2018 at 8pm. For booking details visit www.eastsidearts.net
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