‘Emotional’ and ‘unique’ performance by the Derry Theater Company with an important disability message

A Derry theater company is preparing their ’emotional’ and ‘unique’ show which conveys an important message about disability.

For Stage Beyond, their upcoming show of “The Great Dictator” at the Millennium Forum on June 15 couldn’t come soon enough.

Stage Beyond is a theater company for adults with learning disabilities based in Derry, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

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In collaboration with guest director, Kate Guelke, the award-winning company tackles Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece in a truly unique production combining slapstick humor with serious subject matter close to their hearts.

Stage Beyond is back in action to shine a light on how people with disabilities and learning disabilities have been persecuted in the past.

Based on Chaplin’s 1940 satirical film, Stage Beyond questions what happens when society treats disability as a crime.

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “We are proud to support Stage Beyond, a company that provides adults with learning disabilities with valuable learning opportunities. participate in theatre, make friends and improve their independence. valued.

“They overcame the challenges of the Covid-19 restrictions to embark on this theatrical final stage for society and I look forward to seeing the energy, commitment and creativity they will bring to the Millennium Forum. “



Alison Smith of Stage Beyond

Kate Guelke, Stage Beyond’s guest director for “The Great Dictator,” said, “Stage Beyond has a huge natural affinity with comedy. Chaplin’s masterpiece – combining slapstick humor with serious subject matter – seemed the obvious choice for our new production.

“Many members of the company are very politically engaged, particularly with regard to disability rights activism. We wanted to highlight how people with disabilities and learning disabilities have been persecuted in the past.

“This company does really important work, their commitment and interest in the subject and the bravery to face it head on has been extraordinary. This is a truly unique theatrical event and I hope the audience will laugh, cry, clap and feel as much as we have in rehearsal!

Bernie Shiels, chair of Stage Beyond’s board of directors and one of the original members who also performs on “The Great Dictator,” said she was extremely proud that the company had taken on its latest theatrical challenge.



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She said: “It is important for us not to shy away from the reality of what has happened to people like us in the past.

“It’s been quite an emotional process at times, but there’s a good mix of comedy and a positive overarching message that as people with learning disabilities, we’re all part of society like everyone else. “

Dee Conaghan, Artistic Director of Stage Beyond, said she was prouder than ever of the company members who undertook such a difficult and confronting production.

Dee said: “It’s an absolute joy for us to work with such talented and committed members of the company who are embracing new hardware with such enthusiasm while supporting each other and having fun, which is the philosophy. center of Stage Beyond.”

The performance takes place at the Millennium Forum, Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be reserved here.

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