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Stage Beyond and Lilliput have a blast launching summer festival


Stage Beyond and Lilliput Launch Hi Vis Summer Festival

Stage Beyond and Lilliput have announced details of an exciting new ‘Hi-Vis’ summer festival of music and dance starring adults with learning disabilities which will be held at The Playhouse in Derry/Londonderry from July 17th-21st 2023.

Stage Beyond, supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, has commissioned The WhistleBlast Quartet to facilitate live music workshops and daily lunchtime concerts. Derry-based choreographer Laurie Schneider who has been working with Stage Beyond recently on their production ‘Unstoppable’, will facilitate dance movement workshops to accompany the performances.

The week-long festival will include lunchtime concerts from 12:30PM – 1:00PM on Monday to Thursday (July 17th-20th) performed in The Playhouse by the Quartet who are a partnership of professional musicians and composers: Conor Linehan (Piano), Ken Edge (Sax and Clarinet), Oonagh Keogh (Violin), and Mary Curran (French Horn).

A festival finale showcasing the collaborative creative talents of Stage Beyond and Lilliput participants will be free for members of the public to attend at lunchtime at 1:30PM on Friday, July 21st at The Playhouse.

Stage Beyond is the award-winning resident theatre company for adults with learning disabilities based at the Millennium Forum in Derry/Londonderry while the Western Trust’s Lilliput is resident at The Playhouse.

Dee Conaghan, Artistic Director, Stage Beyond, said they were delighted that Lilliput had also come on board for the festival, further developing the acclaimed repertoire of participants from both local companies. Stage Beyond members made a cameo appearance in Lilliput’s ‘Christmas Elves’ video filmed in the city last year.

Dee said:

“Stage Beyond are very excited to be teaming up with Lilliput again for our new Hi-Vis Summer Festival. Stage Beyond offer professional training in a variety of arts disciplines including drama, music, singing, and movement. We had the pleasure of working with Mary Curran from WhistleBlast last year and we are delighted to be collaborating with the Quartet for a spectacular week-long event.

“The festival provides a unique opportunity for participants from both Stage Beyond and Lilliput to avail of the expertise of the Quartet who offer a wide range of accessible musical experiences and inter-generational workshop programmes. This is our first festival collaboration with Lilliput and we are eagerly looking forward to working together for what promises to be a highly creative and fun-filled week.”

Clare-Ellen Duddy, Senior Daycare Worker, Lilliput, explained:

“Over the last number of years Lilliput have really enjoyed broadening their theatre repertoire, exploring more with music, dance, and singing. After the success of ‘The Christmas Elves’ video in which Stage Beyond played a cameo, Lilliput are really looking forward to joining them again in their music festival week. The group are excited to try different instruments and we can’t wait to see what we create.

“In a world where sometimes finding the words can be difficult, music breaks that barrier. Hans Christian Andersen once said, ‘Where words fail, music speaks’. I cannot wait to hear what Lilliput and Stage Beyond have to say at the end of their week together and the potential future collaborations that evolve.”

Mary Curran, WhistleBlast Quartet founder and director, freelances with RTE and other Irish Orchestras and has recently completed a Masters in Festive Arts at University Limerick. She is also a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme of the Arts Council of Ireland.

Mary said:

“We are very excited for Stage Beyond’s Hi-Vis Summer Festival. I had a great time working with the company last September during their reprised performance of ‘The Great Dictator’ at the Millennium Forum. The Quartet are really looking forward to coming to Derry and composing musical gems with Stage Beyond and Lilliput. Our focus is to provide excellent, interactive experiences of live music and the project will also provide an opportunity for movement to music during what promises to be a hugely enjoyable week for all involved.”

Laurie Schneider, choreographer, added:

“I am super excited to be working with Stage Beyond, Lilliput, and The WhistleBlast Quartet. I have no doubt that all our superstar participants will bring incredible energy, enthusiasm, humour, and creativity to the workshops with a fantastic finale performance showcasing their newly created work for the Derry community and visitors alike to enjoy on July 21st.”

For more information visit and Facebook @stagebeyond, Instagram @stagebeyond2023