RTÉ has announced that an almost 30-hour production of James Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses will be broadcast on its DAB and online worldwide channel RTÉ Radio 1 Extra to celebrate Bloomsday.
The full dramatised production – originally broadcast in 1982 to celebrate the centenary of Joyce, and totalling 29 hours and 45 minutes in duration - will begin at the same time as both Stephen Dedalus’ and Leopold Bloom's journey through Dublin begins in the book: 8 am on the 16th of June.
With Bloomsday 2020 one of many events in the nation's cultural calendar to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, RTÉ will mark the occasion with this unique and ambitious broadcast.
The production was recorded by Marcus MacDonald, directed by William Styles and performed by the RTÉ Players, featuring Pegg Monahan, Patrick Dawson, Ronnie Walsh, Brendan Cauldwell, Colette Procter, Barbara McCaughey, Kate Minogue, Denis Staunton, Laurence Foster, Conor Farrington and Déirdre O'Meara.
In the run-up to this year's Bloomsday festivities, RTÉ Culture has created a permanent Ulysses section that will include 20 'explainer' programmes, Reading Ulysses, hosted by Gerry O Flaherty and Fritz Senn. This comprises 18 episodes, plus an introductory programme with contributions from Edna O'Brien and Joseph O'Connor, and a programme hosted by Bernard Clarke and featuring Barry McGovern on the music in Joyce's work. The section will is also host Joycesongs (music from the book performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra) and other audio and visual archive material.
New writing is also part of this year’s Bloomsday offering. RTÉ Radio 1 has commissioned a half-hour programme, specially scheduled to coincide with the publication of Edna O'Brien's new book. James and Nora: Portrait of Joyce's Marriage. A reading by from the book by Edna O'Brien will air at 6.30 pm on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday, 13 June.
The same evening on RTÉ lyric fm, Opera Night with Paul Herriott from 7 pm presents a Joyce-themed double bill: Andrew Synnott's acclaimed new work The Dubliners, coupled with Balfe's classic The Bohemian Girl.
In addition, RTÉ has commissioned a series of short essays focusing on a fundamental activity of James Joyce’s Ulysses - walking. Called Walking Out, in the days approaching Bloomsday a new short essay will be published daily on RTÉ Culture from acclaimed fiction writers and essayists Nuala O’Connor (Wednesday 10 June), Joseph O’Connor (Thursday 11 June), Cristín Leach (Friday 12 June), Ian Maleney (Monday15 June) and Mary Costello (16 June, Bloomsday). Walking the pier with a first love, sustaining older relationships through art and walking, as well as the iconic walk taken into literary history by James Joyce and Nora Barnacle on 16th June 1904, are all features in a witty, thought-filled new writing collection.
Ulysses will broadcast from 8 am on the 16th of June on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra - keep up with all things James Joyce and Ulysses-related here.