LONDON – The Northern Ireland city of Londonderry has announced a program of arts events ranging from punk to painting to celebrate its role as the U.K.'s "city of culture" for 2013.
The program announced Thursday includes a new play by U.S. writer Sam Shepard staged by Field Day, the innovative local company founded in 1980 by playwright Brian Friel and actor Stephen Rea.
Other stage offerings are "Teenage Kicks," a punk musical inspired by local rock heroes The Undertones, and an open-air spectacle devised by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who scripted the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
Nobel Literature prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, who comes from Northern Ireland, will kick off a poetry festival in the city, which will also host an exhibition for art's Turner Prize, performances by the London Symphony Orchestra and a visit from the Royal Ballet.
The U.K. city of culture title is inspired by the continent-wide European capital of culture program. Londonderry is the first community to hold the title.
Organizers hope it will give an economic boost to Northern Ireland's second city, which is scarred by sectarian divisions that even extend to its name — Protestants call it Londonderry, Roman Catholics Derry.
The city has been targeted by IRA dissidents in a series of shooting and bombing attacks, including an incident in which a small bomb in a backpack was left outside the City of Culture offices.
Despite this, Northern Ireland's peace process has helped transform the city's fortunes. It was recently named one of the best cities in the world to visit next year by the Lonely Planet travel guides.