On June 20th six Fairfield University faculty members from the Irish Studies Program read a chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses in the Culture pavilion of the Irish Studies Festival. English and Irish Literature Professor Nels Pearson put together a script from Ulysses Chapter 11: the famous “Sirens” scene, which is set in a pub and which, like the rest of the novel, takes place in Dublin on June 16, 1904. The chapter’s racier lines would not turn an eyebrow today, but during the 1920’s the novel was banned in the United States and the United Kingdom, and was never even brought into the Irish Free State for fear of a ban.
In addition to drafting the script, Dr. Pearson served as the narrator and read the monologue of the protagonist Leopold Bloom. Professor Marion White (Department of English) read the role of Miss Douce, and Dr. Marice Rose (Department Visual and Performing Arts) was Miss Kennedy: both of them barmaids with whom three of the male characters continuously flirted. Dr. William Abbott (Department of History), read and sang the part of the Irish nationalist Simon Dedalus, while Dr. Robert Epstein (Department of English) read the part of the rowdy but ignored Matt Lenehan. Dr. Kevin Cassidy (Department of Politics) read the parts of the Father Cowley and Ben Dollard.
At Sunday afternoon’s performance, the small but enthusiastic audience applauded vigorously. The Irish Studies faculty members greatly enjoyed rehearsing the chapter and turning it into a dramatic presentation, and they look forward to future performances in similar venues.
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