Ireland’s YES Festival is currently underway in various locations across the north west for the next four days. This unique all-female festival features over 40 events and showcases more than 30 female artists from different countries participating in the ULYSSES European Odyssey project.

The YES Festival, inspired by the iconic female character Molly Bloom from James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” is the brainchild of Seán Doran and Liam Browne, the Artistic Directors of Arts Over Borders. It brings together 32 female artists from 16 countries to present a diverse range of multi-disciplinary events including theatre, dance, visual arts, installations, film, writing, photography, textiles, circus, and music. The theme of “The Future: A Female Vision” encourages audiences to reflect on the role of women in art, business, and politics, not only in Joyce’s work but also in broader contexts.

The ULYSSES European Odyssey (UEO) project, running from 2022 to 2024 across 18 European cities, involves creating artistic responses in public spaces to social and cultural themes found in the 18 episodes of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” The YES Festival serves as the culmination of this international program, which has held events in cities such as Athens, Berlin, Budapest, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Marseille, and Paris. The festival’s final day will be known as Molly Bloomsday, coinciding with the traditional Bloomsday celebration on 16 June, marking the centenary of the publication of “Ulysses” in Paris in 1922.

Shauna Kelpie, the Artistic Curator at Arts Over Borders, emphasizes the significance of having women create and interpret Joyce’s masterpiece, offering a fresh perspective on the renowned literary work. Through a diverse range of art forms, the festival aims to showcase the exceptional creative talent and unique voices of women to local communities and visitors alike.

Among the festival’s highlights are:
– No Ordinary Women: a series of discussions on various topics featuring prominent speakers like Michelle O’Neill, Emma Little-Pengelly, Shami Chakrabarti, Mary Robinson, Louise Cullen, Aoife Moore, and Miriam O’Callaghan.
– The Molly Films: a world premiere presentation directed by Ukrainian filmmaker Sophie Muzychenko and starring acclaimed actresses like Dame Harriet Walter, Fiona Shaw, Eve Hewson, Adjoa Andoh, and Siobhán McSweeney.
– The Molly Bed: an interactive installation by Derry designer Tracey Lindsay, featuring a video screen headboard showing the Molly Films and a letterbox for visitors to share their messages and aspirations.
– O Rocks!: a closing concert by renowned Irish performer Imelda May, featuring music, conversation, and poetry to celebrate the inaugural Molly Bloomsday.

For more information on the YES Festival and the events happening over the next four days, visit the official website.