“….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,” Molly Bloom says, the last words in the last chapter of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. And actresses will be saying those words on stages throughout New York today, which is Bloomsday, the annual, worldwide celebration of the Irish writer on June 16th, which is the day in 1904 that Ulysses chronicles in the life of Molly’s husband, Leopold Bloom.
As I explain in an article for TDF Stages, two Irish-born actresses are bringing Molly Bloom to life in different one-woman shows based on that chapter: Aedin Moloney’s YES! Reflections of Molly Bloom at Irish Repertory Theatre through July 7, and Eilin O’Dea’s Molly Bloom by James Joyce presented by Fusion Theatre through June 22.
But just for today, there will be readings of that last chapter, called the Penelope episode, in Bloomsday celebrations throughout the city. O’Dea herself is taking off from her Off-Off Broadway show to perform a shortened version of it at the 38thannual “Bloomsday on Broadway” celebration at Symphony Space. (She first performed it a decade ago as part of the Bloomsday Festival at the James Joyce Center in Dublin.) Five actresses, including Irish Rep artistic director Charlotte Moore, will take turns reading it at the sixth annual Bloomsday Breakfast at Bloom’s Tavern.
Bloomsday at McNally Jackson Booksellerswill celebrates the day with Robert Seidman, author of Ulysses Annotated.
After she performs her (sold out) show today, Moloney will repair, to Ulysses Folk House on Stone Street in the Financial District for its 16thannual Bloomsday celebration as she has every year since 2003.
Two years ago, Moloney released a recording of the entire chapter, Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy, which includes music by her father, Paddy Moloney of “The Chieftains.” If you can’t make it to Bloomsday celebrations, have your own — Vol. 1 here, and Vol. 2 here. of Moloney’s recording on iTunes. Or read the Penelope episode in text online. (Warning, no punctuation.) Or, for the more adventurous, the entire text of Ulysses.