The 31st John Hewitt International Summer School took place in The Market Place Theatre, Armagh from Monday 23 to Saturday 28 July 2018.
In 2018 the Summer School focused on ‘Facing change: shifting borders and allegiances’ with over 35 events from more than 60 writers, artists, commentators and lecturers, examining how changing circumstances affect how we think and behave, and how relocation, enforced or voluntary shapes our life chances.
Artists, writers, and speakers also considered the impact of anniversaries on our allegiances, considering what remains constant, what still requires change, and what we can learn from past or different experiences.
Hewitt once famously described his identity as “Ulster, Irish, British, and European.”
The 2018 programme featured gala events from poets Michael Longley and Imitaz Dharker, both recipients of The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, talks from celebrated writers such as Patrick Gale and Liz Nugent, music from Ulaid and Duke Special, Edges of Light – with iconic dancer Colin Dunne (Riverdance) and celebrated musicians Tóla Custy, Maeve Gilchrist and David Power – and theatre in the form of The Man in the Woman’s Shoes written and performed by Mikel Murfi.
Once again the Summer School provided opportunity for new and established writers to develop their talents with masterclasses from Nessa O’Mahony, David Wheatley, Siobhán Campbell, Mary O’Donnell, Bernie McGill, Ferdia Mac Anna and Eoin McNamee.
The Summer School was officially opened by former Irish Fianna Fáil politician Dr. Martin Mansergh who served as Minister of State at the Department of Finance and Minister of State for the Arts from 2008 to 2011.
Tony Kennedy, chair of The John Hewitt Society, said: “In a year that marks a number of significant anniversaries, and when debate continues on the impact of Brexit on the Irish border and relations in Ireland and throughout Europe, this year’s John Hewitt International Summer School is particularly topical.”
Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said; “John Hewitt’s own contribution to the cultural life of Ireland has been well-documented and his work and spirit lives on through this annual, landmark festival. Once again, we have an impressive array of exceptional artists and events to look forward to. We wish the John Hewitt Society all the very best with this year’s programme.”