A festival honoring Nobel Prize winner W.B. Yeats entitled “For the Ear Alone” is coming to ETSU. Yeats was the first Irish man to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 for his literary skill and revolution. Known mainly for his poetry and Irish plays, Yeats’ legacy goes far beyond that.
“Yeats was a magnificent theatre person,”said Joseph Sobol, head of the storytelling department at ETSU and performer in the festival, “but his plays followed a different mould from the mainstream theatre of ‘kitchen sink realism.’ His were magical, mystical poetic dramas fashioned out of myth, legend, Irish folklore and symbolism drawn from the Irish landscape and exotic traditions.”
“For the Ear Alone” will take place Jan. 27-28, offering several events at the Reece Museum and the Martha Street Culp Auditorium. Many featured events of the festival are free and open to the public, while others cost $10 for general admission and $5 for students.
While several of the events will be discussing Yeats’ plays, poems and Irish folklore, incorporating the dramatic and contemporary views of particular works, the show “In the Deep Heart’s Core: A Mystic Caret,” which will be performed Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Culp Auditorium, is a musical biography of W.B. Yeats and his work.
“Yeats’ poetry is remarkably personal as well as being universal in his outlook and interests,” Sobol said, “so his poems together weave a portrait of the artist and his time, made emotionally vivid through the musical settings. The music is a blend of traditional Irish, folk, classical, jazz and a bit of Broadway. We’ll also tell and dramatize stories from Yeats’ life that form the backdrop of the poetry, like his long unrequited love for Maud Gonne, a fiery Irish revolutionary, and his mystical awakenings late in life.”
Participating in this festival is a great way to honor the work of the late W.B. Yeats, while also becoming more knowledgeable about the type of work he did. When asked what he was hoping to accomplish from the festival as a whole, Sobol said, “I hope it will provide students and the general public here with a deep and lasting encounter with one of the great artistic souls of the Western tradition.”