Festival highlights work of deaf and disabled artists

Caroline Parker in Signs of a Diva
Caroline Parker in Signs of a Diva

The second Belfast Bounce! disability and deaf arts festival will be held at the Grand Opera House from August 30 until September 1, with a thought-provoking and varied programme of events.

The Bounce! Festival weekender will get off to a noisy start on August 29 when members of the public are invited to beat Ireland’s biggest drum - a 14 foot Fuinneamh drum - at Belfast City Hall as part of the launch activities. This will mark the beginning of three days of theatre, comedy, music, dance, performance poetry, exhibitions by deaf and disabled artists.

Festival curator Chris Ledger, chief executive of the Arts and Disability Forum, said: “We are very excited about the programme. People from England, Scotland and even as far away as Mali and Peru have been in contact to say they want to come to Belfast to enjoy the festival. The Bounce! programme has something for everyone.”

One of the festival highlights will be a performance of Signs of a Diva - a work incorporating sign language with mime and dance by Caroline Parker, to be held at the Baby Grand, August 31. Caroline, who was recently awarded the MBE, performed with Beverley Knight at last year’s Paralympics Opening Ceremony and this show has integrated access, including audio description for visually impaired people and captioning and sign language for deaf people.

“Caroline Parker is one of the leading practitioners of sign song, which is a beautiful art form,” adds Chris Ledger. “Caroline makes sign language accessible to hearing people and music accessible to deaf people. The show is a virtuoso performance that combines expressive sign language with mime and dance and includes some famous torch songs.”

The Wheelchair on My Face, a piece of memoir, theatre and stand-up comedy written and performed by Sonya Kelly about her experience of growing up with sight impairment, which won the Scotsman Fringe First Award at last year’s Edinburgh Festival and is directed by Gina Moxley of Fishamble, will be performed at the Baby Grand Studio on August 30.

Other festival highlights will include a concert by jazz singer Victoria Geelan accompanied by harpist Joleen McLaughlin of the Henry Girls featuring interpretations of classics from Prince to Portishead performed in English, French and Spanish; music from singer/songwriters Pat Dam Smyth whose lyrics recount ‘confusing experiences and blurred visions’ and folk from Catherine Hatt; plus performance poetry from Dan Eggs, billed as a ‘master of alliteration’.

Other events include a double bill of physical theatre and dance from Blue Chevvy, music from the Open Arts Community Choir, and a Madness in Mind photographic exhibition reflecting bipolar experience by Karen Forrester at the ADF Gallery on Belfast’s Royal Avenue.

For more information about the Bounce! Festival visit www.adf.ie or call 028 9023 9450. Tickets are available from the Grand Opera House box office at www.goh.co.uk or by calling 028 9024 1919.