Avoid the Saint Patrick's Day rush | Lit Feature | Chicago Reader

Avoid the Saint Patrick's Day rush 

IBAM offers an Irish experience without the green foil hats

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Actor Stephen Rea reads from Ulysses

Actor Stephen Rea reads from Ulysses

Michael Donald

Dedicated to all things emerald, the fourth annual Irish Books Art and Music celebration—aka IBAM—packs a heavy schedule of panels, performances, readings, screenings, and even live mural painting into a single weekend hosted by the Irish American Heritage Center.

The festivities begin with a sneak preview of an exhibit on James Joyce imported from the National Library of Ireland. Actor Stephen Rea (The Crying Game) lends glamour to the event, reading from Joyce's Ulysses (Thu 10/11, 7:30 PM, $20, $15 in advance). More Joyceana: Court Theatre performs excerpts from its next production, which happens to be a musical based on Joyce's "The Dead" (Sat 10/13, 5 PM), and a gaggle of performers present Rattlin' of the Joists, comprising "readings, poems, and songs of" you know who (Sun 10/14, 1 PM).

Veteran Irish recording star Phil Coulter performs live with one of his proteges, Damian McGinty (Fri 8 PM and Sun 5 PM, $50-$100).

Saturday begins with a full Irish breakfast (served 10:45 AM-12:15 PM, $6-$12 a person) punctuated by the festival's opening ceremonies (11:45 AM). Phil Coulter turns up again—along with poet Seamus Heaney and other illustrious Irishmen—in The Boys of St. Columbs, a 2009 documentary about the first generation of working-class lads to go to school under Northern Ireland's 1947 compulsory-education law. Writer-producer Maurice Fitzpatrick will be on hand to introduce the 80-minute film (noon). Meanwhile, author Morgan Llywelyn reads from and discusses 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion (noon).

Belfast peace muralists Martin Lyons and Mark Ervine can be seen in action, creating a work in the IAHC art gallery (Sat-Sun noon-6 PM). They also take a little time off to talk about their lives as artists in Ireland (Sat 3:30 PM).

Stone Hearth Theatre presents two plays: Sean O'Casey's Bedtime Story (Sat 2:30 PM, Sun 1:30 PM) and an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sat 2:30 PM, Sun 3 PM).

On Sunday IBAM Person of the Year Richard Moore introduces his movie, Blind Vision, the story of how he forgave and befriended the British soldier whose rubber bullet destroyed his eyesight (noon). The weekend wraps up with a burst of storytelling, prose and poetry readings, and music by various hands. Winners of the IBAM poetry contest are to be announced at 4:15 PM. And Chicago Reel offers still more music "after hours" (7 PM).

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