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Leaves Festival of Writing and Music programme in Laois a real page turner

Class, a new play revolving around a parent-teacher meeting that goes very wrong is featured in this year's Laois Leaves programme.

The programme for this year’s Leaves Festival of Writing and Music programme, the festival of writing and music is a real page turner.

Celebrating the literary arts the festival builds on the success of previous years and is organised by the Laois Arts Office.

There are some big names in there, some serious emerging talent and a fabulous eclectic mix of events from poetry and prose to music, theatre and photography.

The festival runs from Tuesday, November 5, to Saturday, November 9 at a number of venues around Portlaoise.

Opening this year’s programme is Manchán Magan with Arán & Im, a bi-lingual performance delivering on the delights of the Irish language while baking bread.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Shakespearean classic is showing at the Dunamaise for one night only on Wednesday, November 6 and just in case you haven’t learned it already, the moral of the story is of course that, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” Some things never change.

And staying with theatre, albeit of a different variety is the highly acclaimed and award winning new play, Class. Written and directed by Iseult Golden and David Horan, the reviewers are raving about this story based on the drama that unfolds when a parent-teacher meeting unravels. Sound familiar? That’s on stage in the Dunamaise on Thursday, November 7.

The same evening our very own Arthur Broomfield turns out his latest collection of poems in an event hosted by the Laois Writers’ Group at Portlaoise Library. The Giant’s Footsteps at the Rock of Dunamaise will be launched at 8pm. There will also be singing on the evening by fellow Ballyfin man, Paddy Fitzpatrick of Slieve Bloom Sean Nós fame.

An event not to be missed and one of my favourite authors Joseph O’ Connor features in an evening of readings and conversations hosted by Dermot Bolger, a prolific and outstanding author himself who is picking up star ratings for his new play at the Abbey, Last Orders at the Dockside. Also on the bill for this event on Friday, November 8 is Kit de Waal and hot from her stunning performance on the Late Late Show last week, Sibéal Ní Chassaide. Any of the four are worth the admission fee of €15 on their own.

On Saturday afternoon the legendary photographer John Minihan will be in conversation with Dermot Bolger. With a fascinating slideshow of his world famous photographs, this rare public event with John Minihan, one of Europe’s most distinguished living photographers is a must for lovers of literature and photography with Beckett and Princess Diana numbering among his acquaintances and subjects. That’s at 3pm on November 9.

That evening it’s over to St Peter’s Church in Market Square for an exceptional event with the last surviving original Dubliner, John Sheahan joining Dermot Bolger for his trademark intimate conversations. The evening also features Niamh Boyce, the Hennessy New Irish Writer 2102, Irish Book Awards winner and an IMPAC shortlisted writer whose latest fiction Her Kind is causing quite a stir.

On Friday and Saturday of the festival there are writing workshops with Enda Wyley entitled, Poetry in the Making and Christine Dwyer-Hickey will take you through a Flash Fiction Writing, where you can learn the art of short fiction where every word counts.

It’s all thanks to the Laois Arts office supported by the Creative Ireland programme and you can get more details and info on tickets from your local library, the Dunamaise Arts Centre or from artsoff@laoiscoco.ie

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John Whelan has been a journalist, commentator, columnist, political analyst, campaigner, politician and publisher ever since he was 17. Having been Editor of the Leinster Express, Offaly Express and the Leinster Leader he has also contributed extensively on a number of issues to all of the country's flagship titles and programmes including the Irish Press, The Irish Independent, the Star, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday Business Post, The Sunday Times and Prime Time. He is founder of Communicate Ireland a PR, public affairs, event management and media services company. He is the author of the popular camping blog, Vanhalla - Camper Heaven.