Talented young Donegal actors will be helping to steal the show when they take to the stage at the Millennium Forum in Derry this weekend with their latest big production, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’.
Stage Beyond, the Millennium Forum’s resident theatre company for young adults with learning difficulties, are set to blow audiences away when they rise to yet another theatrical challenge.
Under the expert direction of award-winning Dublin based writer and director Conall Morrison the ambitious company are tackling this 300-year-old story in a stylised and energetic production.
The cast, who hail from both Derry and Donegal, will perform two shows at the Millennium Forum on Saturday, June 9 at 3pm (relaxed and dementia friendly performance) and 7pm.
Of the cast comprising almost 40 members, 23 are from various arts and parts of Donegal who travel to Derry twice a week to perform with Stage Beyond as part of the National Learning Network based in Letterkenny.
They include Trevor McGrenra from Letterkenny, who plays the Emperor in ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. Trevor, who has also played lead roles in previous Stage Beyond productions which have toured to theatres including The Lyric in Belfast, is looking forward to taking to the main stage at the Forum again on Saturday.
The 26-year-old, who has a particular skill in learning not just his own lines but those of other characters as well, says being a member of Stage Beyond has helped boost his confidence to perform in public.
“I like working hard on the productions. I like the rehearsals and socialising with the rest of the group, it has made me more confident,” Trevor said.
Dee Conaghan, company manager, said she was extremely proud of the entire cast and was delighted to have such a strong cohort of talented young actors from Co. Donegal taking on roles in their productions.
Stage Beyond has also developed its diversity and inclusion through the delivery of outreach projects in two local secondary schools. Young people from Lisneal College and St Cecilia's College will take to the high seas to become the Blefuscans who plan to invade Lilliput.
“This is an ideal opportunity for broadening the experiences of both the youth of Derry and members of Stage Beyond theatre company,” Dee explained.
“Using multi-media and a simple set, the company take you on the epic and outrageous journey to Lilliput where Lemuel Gulliver finds himself stranded - a giant amongst a nation of tiny warriors. And Jonathan Swift himself, creator of this literary treasure, narrates the story throughout.”
Conall Morrison, who has worked extensively with companies including the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, has enjoyed harnessing the skills and creativity of Stage Beyond which is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
He said: “I was aware of the high level of ambition behind the company. I came and watched them do some work preparing for another show and there was such wonderful energy and creativity in the room.
“As a company they are open, energetic, inventive and fully committed to the scenario of the play which is a classic satire about the folly of mankind. Theatre is all about play and Stage Beyond bring that to bear in spades. A lot of professional actors can be quite guarded but Stage Beyond throw themselves at it and that is hard to beat.”
Morrison says audiences can expect a production that is “funny and hopefully also moving in parts”, adding: “We are using just very simple props which throws you back on your capacity for theatrical inventiveness and hopefully as well as the wonderful storytelling it will be visually very striking.”
Tickets for ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ on Saturday, June 9 at 3pm and 7pm priced £10/£8 concession (Family Ticket: £30 admits 4) are available from the Millennium Forum Box Office, Tel. 02871 266455.
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