A verbal percussion performance orchestrated by the multi-talented Dave ‘Stickman’ Higgins will signal the start of Bounce! Arts Festival Weekender – Belfast’s third disability and deaf arts festival.
The Caribbean/Irish percussionist, actor and poet, will create ‘human percussion’ with guests and festival performers attending the launch of the festival at the Arts and Disability Forum (ADF) Gallery in Royal Avenue.
The festival from August 28 to 31 promises an entertaining and stimulating mix of music, theatre, comedy, circus, fine art and dance from some of the UK and Ireland’s top disabled and deaf artists.
This year’s main venue partner is the Lyric Theatre, with other activity taking place in the Black Box and the ADF Gallery.
ADF Director Chris Ledger said the aim of Bounce! was simply to showcase the very best work that is being produced by disabled and deaf artists.
She added: “It’s a really strong programme. Bounce! is about confounding people’s preconceptions about what disabled and deaf artists can do. The Lyric is one of Northern Ireland’s most important cultural institutions so it means a lot to have their support and recognition.
“There’s something for everybody. While Bounce! is particularly aimed at disabled and deaf people and their partners, friends and family, the festival will suit anyone with an open mind, an appreciation of artistic talent and a sense of humour.”
Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister, Carál Nί Chuilín, said: “Bounce! offers the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest visual arts, theatre and comedy that there is around and if you want to become directly involved, there is a range of workshops on offer.
“I would encourage everyone to take a look at the programme, pick their favourites and get along between August 28 and 31. Festivals such as these show that disability doesn’t need to be a barrier and they help to promote equality and showcase the work of our many talented artists and performers who happen to have a disability”
Highlights include a performance of the highly acclaimed ‘If these Spasms Could Speak’ – a solo tour de force by performer/director Robert Softley, examining disability, sex and body image at the Lyric Theatre on Friday, August 29. The show received rave reviews at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
The programme also includes a sparkling and bold stand-up show ‘One of Us Will Die’ – at the Lyric Theatre on Saturday night (August 30) – featuring a relationship between a tall and short person. The show stars real life couple, 6ft 3in comedian Gareth Berliner and 3ft 6in Aussie-born actress/director Kiruna Stamell (from ‘Moulin Rouge’ and ‘Life’s too Short’).
This show will be followed by music from Dublin playwright and singer-songwriter Dylan Tighe, whose songs about mental health are deeply personal and emotional. He released his acclaimed debut album entitled ‘Record’ earlier this year.
And there is also Julie McNamara’s ‘Let me Stay’ – a tender and humorous exploration of the effects of Alzheimer’s on family relations, offering a positive way forward. Liverpool based writer and performer Julie McNamara recorded her mother’s stories and songs over many years and she performs live on stage with a video projection of her mother.
The show, which is wickedly funny and deeply moving will be performed at the Lyric on Sunday, August 31. Last year, Julie was the MC for a Bounce! cabaret night at the Baby Grand and vowed to return with this show.
Local physical theatre company Blue Chevy, which has grown out of Kids in Control, was one of the hits of last year’s festival and they have a new show that is being performed at the Lyric on launch night (Thursday, August 28). Another local company, Streetwise Community Circus, will perform at the Lyric on Saturday afternoon, followed by a circus skills workshop.
Lyric Executive Producer, Jimmy Fay, said the theatre was excited at being associated with this year’s festival.
“We are delighted to host the third Bounce! Arts Festival Weekender at the Lyric Theatre – the first time it has been at this theatre. We can look forward to a packed programme of thought-provoking events, including drama, dance, comedy and music. The Lyric team has worked closely with Kids in Control for a number of years and it will be great to see their work and many other highlights in the Festival at the end of August.”