George C. Heslin and Malachi McCourt, Photo by James Higgins

What better way to start your June 16th (Official Bloomsday) then listening to the likes of Honor Molloy, Aedin Moloney, Terry Donnelly and Fiona Walsh reading from Joyce’s Ulysses. And then turn your ear to hear the genius of Freddie White singing “Love’s Old Sweet Song” (Just A Song At Twilight) with his amazing guitar accompaniment. Joyce himself would have been pleased as punch. And to top it off, blood sausages, mimosas, bloody mary’s and Malachy McCourt.

Ulysses – burned, banned, printed under secrecy, immediately hailed as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century and immediately creating lore that has only grown over the years. I have my father’s copy. I’ve had it since his death in 2005. Reluctant to crack it open let alone read, as friends have lamented, “Oh God, Ulysses. It’s so hard!” My niece who actually did read it saying “Yes. I read all those black words on all those white pages,” suggesting she retained nothing. Finally, on June 4th I took it down completely oblivious that Bloomsday was right around the corner. It is not an easy read, but that is because sentences and paragraphs are all so rich in detail that they require lingering, and lingering is time consuming and so here I am reading and lingering and enjoying as my time is consumed.

The Bloomsday Breakfast at Bloom’s Tavern on the Upper East side was curated by the Origin Theatre Company, a company created by Artistic Director George C. Heslin, and dedicated to bringing the work of international playwrights to American audiences. Their Bloomsday Breakfast at Bloom Tavern featured not only readings from Ulysses but also letters between Joyce and Silvia Beach – proprietor of the bookstore Shakespeare and Company (Paris) and the first to have the controversial book published and sold.   There were awards for best Molly Bloom and Leopold Bloom costumes. And oh, those costumes of Dublin 1904  with their lace and gloves and parasols. And a Literary Award was presented to Malachy McCourt. Mr. McCourt is 85 years young with his marvelous mop of white hair and the ever persistent twinkle in his eyes.  He held court at his table right by the entrance to the two level tavern like any good Irish story teller.

Many of the attendees at the breakfast brought their copies of Ulysses to follow along with those reading different passages from the book. Passionate, humorous readings. The final reading from the last pages of the novel which is the infamous Molly Bloom monologue. Page after page with not one punctuation. A true stream of consciousness. They were acted by Aedin Moloney and the “performance,” an honor, a shout out, to womanhood.

I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

And yes I say yes, thank you to Origin Theatre Company and George C. Heslin for producing such an enjoyable breakfast. So check out the Origin Theatre Company  and mark your calendars for June 16th 2018, and for upcoming productions as well.

And there it is.