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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In Context: riverrun

riverrun, actress Olwen Fouéré's exhilarating adaptation of the end of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, comes to BAM September 17—20. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Program Notes

riverrun (PDF)


"In the Wake of Joyce: Five Questions for A.Nicholas Fargnoli (BAM Blog)
The president of the James Joyce Society helps to demystify Finnegans Wake.

“The Watery Voice of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (The Guardian)
 “I dive in and hope only that I will not forget to swim,” says creator Olwen Fouéré of riverrun.

Olwen Fouéré Wins Edinburgh Festival Award (
Fouéré won the prestigious Herald Archangel Award for her performance in riverrun.

“Olwen Fouéré on the Voice of the River” (
“[The river] operates like a blood stream through everything,” says the riverrun actor. “It’s like the energy of waking up and moving on”

“What to Make of Finnegans Wake?” (
Michael Chabon recounts a lifelong journey with Joyce’s elusive text.

The Works: Olwen Fouéré (YouTube)
“Art is like an act of resistance against a prescribed reality,” says the riverrun actor.

Watch & Listen

James Joyce Reads from Finnegans Wake (YouTube)
A 1929 recording of the author reading his work.

Olwen Fouéré on riverrun (National Theatre)
“If you let it go, and go with the flow of it, it is, as Joyce described it, a sound-dance.”

The Origins of riverrun  (Galway International Arts Festival)
“It’s the voice of the river L-I-F-E…life…Liffey,” says Fouéré of her protagonist.

Now your turn...

So? How did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below.


  1. A true tour de force. Olwen Fourere made FW alive, full of poetry, music, complications, simplicities, depth and humor. Joyce would have loved it.
    Thanks also for the Chabon article.

  2. I had no preconceptions going in, am not Joyce-versed (excepting Dubliners, Portrait, and parts of Ulysses), but love viewing/listening to performed texts. It was an extraordinary hour: mysterious, dreamy, funny, incomprehensible, enfolding, quotidian, all at the once. Olwen's face, body, voice fully invested in the material. One suggestion: in the Fishman, it might be helpful for performers to place themselves slightly upstage center, for sight lines sake.

  3. BTW: Signed on as Anonymous @ 10:15 because I couldn't figure out how not-to on BAM's site. Mary.

  4. I loved it even though I probably 'got' about 5% of it. The reason I loved it was Olwen Fouéré. She was fabulous. I enjoy the various setups at the Fisher - I never know what the stage is going to be. I wish the theater were cooler though. It was quite warm on Wednesday night. Hard to get up in the middle of a performance to ask management to make that kind of adjustment - hopefully someone checks in on the performances and gauges how many in the audience are fanning themselves.

  5. Olwen Fouére:
    shape shifting
    fire breathing goddess

  6. I attended a one woman show 35 years ago given by the Irish actress, Siobhan McKenna, I have never forgotten her clear, beautiful voice that enabled me to enter Joyce's watery world of Finnegan's Wake. Her diction was clear. I dropped into the world of the Liffy. Decades ago I was moved to tears when she uttered the words, " Carry me along, taddy, like you done through the toy fair! The performance I saw at Bam seemed forced and tense. The words were not buoyant, they didn't have a life of their own. The interpretation of this work by this actress did not allow for any lyric feeling: no sweetness, no tenderness, no sense of childhood. What I saw was and heard was a piece about her, not about Joyce.