When I heard that Prof Bob Scanlan, Beckett collaborator, Bostonian and Irish American hero, was Belfast-bound with his Poets’ Theatre my first thought wasn’t to salute his artistic audacity.
I’m a pol. My first response was, ‘I hope he put in his postal vote for Marty Walsh.’
For Mayor Walsh, who signed the Sister City Agreement with Belfast in 2014, puts himself before the people of Boston this week, seeking their endorsement for another four-year term.
But of course my attention should really have focused on the blossoming of the sister city partnership with the arrival on these shores of the revered Poets’ Theatre with their unique female take on Beckett.
You can read more about the acclaimed Ceremonies of Departure – three Beckett monologues and a fourth comic play – and book your tickets for the MAC performances online.
Sport has loomed large in the Boston-Belfast link-up – and the Friendship Four returns to Belfast on 24-25 Belfast – but this theatrical coup of Bob Scanlan is the most important artistic partnership to date.
There is much more to do and I will be in Boston later this month to meet Ronnie Millar and the stalwarts of the Irish International Immigration Center to discuss continued challenges for undocumented immigrants – including one local man who finds himself in jail after being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I have also lined up discussions with business partners who want to open a new chapter in the commercial links between Belfast and Boston.
On 17 November, I will address the Golden Bridges Conference about our bid to trump Bob Scanlan’s glorious and dramatic upping of the stakes in this transatlantic twinning by bringing Irish America’s greatest collection of art home.
A saner person would suggest that can’t be done but as the great man himself said, “You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”