THE SOUNDS OF FINNEGANS WAKE

 

Finnegans Wake is a night-time stream of consciousness; a dream. The main characters are a Dublin publican, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE), and his wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP). In the dream, HCE merges with the landscape of Dublin, and ALP merges with the river Liffey, so the love and marriage between them is told and retold through the ages as the river flows through the landscape. There are two sons (Shem and Shaun) and a daughter (Issy). 


The best way to read Finnegans Wake is to listen to it, dipping in and out of it (like a river!). Even if the 'plot' seems obscure, as a dipping listener you gradually amass sensations and impressions and a dream-like perception of rebirth, recirculation, eternal return, and love. It's full of humour too. Above all, don't feel you have to understand any of it.

Episode 1 - Nuvoletta, Museyroom, Gadabount

Three extracts from Finnegans Wake; 'Nuvoletta', 'Museyroom' and 'Gadabount'.

The evening star, Nuvoletta, reflects herself in the River Liffey on a summer's evening. Below her, two pieces of laundry, laid out to dry, are so absorbed in arcane, religious argument that they don't even notice her.

An enthusiastic museum guide gives a garbled and excited account of the Battle of Waterloo, spiced with images and references from other battles throughout history.

Two washerwomen gossip about Anna Livia - the River Liffey - as they wash clothes in her.  Who was the first to ever touch her?

Episode 2 - Three Quarks, First She Let Her Hair Fall, Home All Go

Three quarks for Muster Mark', 'First she let her hair fall' and 'Home all go'.

Sea birds call and the Four Master Waves of Ireland listen in, as Tristan seduces Isolde on board King Mark's ship.

The washerwomen gossip about Anna Livia - one day, she dressed up in her finest clothes and went out for a secret assignation.

In the Dublin village of Chapelizod, children are called in from the streets to homework, tea, stories and bed. Thunder claps rouse them and their parents soothe them back to sleep again.

Episode 3 - Soft Morning, City

The final 'chapter' of Finnegans Wake. The River Liffey muses and remembers her life and her loves as she flows out into the sea in Dublin Bay. 

SINEAD O'NEILL  is a critically acclaimed director working internationally across opera and theatre disciplines, driven by a passion for fresh, direct storytelling. Her style is characterised by the poetry of body, voice and space, reflected in distinctive movement, striking imagery, and dynamic musicality.