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The Conquest of Happiness - A Play

The Conquest of Happiness is based on the writings of renowned intellect and pacifist Bertrand Russell, and is the first work by leading Bosnian artist Haris Pasovic to be performed in Ireland.

The play will open in Derry-Londonderry on September 21 for two nights as part of the UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations, before embarking on a tour of Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia, concluding in a spectacular finale performance in Belfast.

The unique collaborative production is spearheaded by Belfast’s Prime Cut Productions and co-produced with Pasovic’s East West Centre in Sarajevo and The Mladinsko Theatre in Ljublana.

As part of The Conquest of Happiness 200 performers from various choirs across Derry-Londonderry will form a magnificent chorus, representing through song the voice of the people as we follow various iconic world events. The choir will sing songs from the countries and cultures that are explored during the piece, from Germany to Israel and from Palestine to Chile, and rehearsals are currently taking place in the city.

The drama itself will be played out by an international cast of actors and dancers from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Bosnia, Belgium and England who will use dance, theatre and live music to bring the drama to life.

The play is based on Russell’s premise that the secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is essentially a horrible place, and the drama sets out to examine some of the most horrific acts of war in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Talking about the production Pasovic revealed: “Despite the dark subject matter, The Conquest of Happiness considers the beauty of the human spirit amidst the world’s horrors. This project brings together people from across civil, racial and economic divides. Its message is one of hope but also warning: happiness is not a right, but something to be worked at, earned but never at another’s expense.”

Despite the challenging concept, the performance itself promises to be one of the visual highlights of the cultural programme, as it resurrects first-hand accounts of real life events and attempts to explore the human capacity for both horror and love, even in the most desperate circumstances.

Executive Programmer with Culture Company 2013, Graeme Farrow, said the performance would push the boundaries of drama in terms of its visual approach.  “This unique collaboration incorporates the work of 50 artists from seven countries who have drawn on their own first hand experiences of conflict to produce what promises to be an explosive dramatic work,” he explained.

The play is one of the highlights of our arts programme for the autumn, and as Pasovic’s debut work on this island it’s a fantastic opportunity for theatre goers to come and enjoy the work of one of Europe’s leading artists. Ebrington Square is the ideal arena for such an epic and innovative performance piece. It's fantastic also that a journey which begins here will take in Mostar, Zenica and Ljublana." 

Roisin McDonough Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

"The arts as a transitional and transformational tool have power of epic proportions. We believe a healthy society is one where engagement with the arts is at the fore. The Conquest of Happiness is a wonderful example of the healing that can occur through the artistic process. It also provides a platform for discussion and the exploration of what it is that makes us happy. We look forward to the production that we have watched evolve and flourish over recent years."

Tickets are available from the Millennium Forum and are priced £12.50 and £8 concessionary. The production is not recommended for children under the age of 12 due to upsetting scenes and strong language. - the link to Youtube for the trailer.


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