Spoken Word

Shoreham Wordfest: Brendan Behan – A Centenary Celebration

About this event

Presented by Janet Behan and Dr John Froude, featuring actor Richard Heap and musicians Mervyn Wallis and Tom Walker.

Playwright and poet Brendan Behan has a posthumous connection with Shoreham by Sea. His writer-brother Brian lived on the houseboat ‘Enstone’ in the 1970s and Brian’s writer/actor daughter Janet (author of ‘Brendan at the Chelsea’, a play inspired by Brendan’s final days at the Hotel Chelsea, New York) is a Shoreham Beach resident.

Along with the redoubtable Dr John Froude, actor Richard Heap, and local musical paragons Tom Walker and Mervyn Wallis, Janet invites you to a joyous celebration of her uncle Brendan’s work.

“It is Ireland’s sacred duty to send over, every few years, a playwright to save the English theatre… Behan sends language out on a swaggering spree, ribald, flushed, and spoiling for a fight.”

So wrote Kenneth Tynan in his glowing review of Brendan’s play ‘The Quare Fellow’. The play went on to be a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Brendan’s subsequent play ‘The Hostage’ proved to be yet another sell-out success in London and New York.

1958 also saw the publication of Brendan’s novel ‘Borstal Boy‘ – widely regarded as his masterwork. To mark the centenary of Brendan’s birth, in April this year the book was dramatised for BBC Radio 4.

In his introduction to the broadcast, John York describes Borstal Boy as “a tender, funny, violent, disturbing, raucous hymn to humanity” – a plaudit that skilfully sums up the beating heart of all Brendan’s plays, poetry, songs, stories and novels, for he was fascinated and infinitely amused by his fellow humans.

Still loved and celebrated in his native Ireland, Brendan is less well-known nowadays, particularly this side of the Irish Sea. But the works themselves are as fresh, funny, insightful and rewarding as they were all those years ago when Brendan, irreverent, larger-than-life and often less than sober, took the literary world by storm.

As his mother Kathleen said, “he swung the world by the tail”. We hope you will join us as we celebrate Brendan’s centenary with a joyful evening of song, laughter and great writing.

  • Date
    Tue, October 10, 2023
  • Start time 7:30 PM
  • Price £10.00
  • Duration TBA
  • Event format TBA

Event Expired

Ropetackle Arts Centre

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