Stage Beyond begins filming in Derry and Donegal for Mind The Time project

Local theatre company Stage Beyond, peopled by talented artists with learning disabilities - are currently filming across the north west for a new film series based around personal memories. Here, a spokesperson for Stage Beyond explains the project and praises the participants for their amazing dedication and commitment after what has been a period of great uncertainty.

Saturday, 29th May 2021, 8:32 am
Actors Gabriele Duffy, who plays Tricia, Noah Moore who plays Frank Niles junior the ‘Milky Bar Kid’ and Frank Nelis who plays his late father Frank Nelis senior, pictured during rehearsals for the short film ‘Derry Fancy Dress Competition 1969’, one of 12 short films currently being made by Stage Beyond with the theme ‘Mind the Time’, at the Culmore Community Hub. DER2120GS – 076

Stage Beyond Theatre Company are in the midst of this year’s production: Mind the Time. Whilst the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, we as a theatre company have maintained our momentum and have risen to all of the challenges that have been presented to us.

Mind the Time will feature some instantly recognisable locations in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. For example, this week we will film on location at the Doagh Famine Village in Donegal where we hope to capture the spectacular surroundings and the beautifully preserved cottages, to honour the overarching theme in this production of memory.

As we undertake the filming process, we have been relieved to see an easing of local restrictions. Even so, the devising of this film has required extreme dedication from our Stage Beyond members and the wider creative team that have been involved, as each piece requires extensive rehearsal time both remotely and in person.

Director Carol Moore and actors Bryan Sutherland and Marie Anderson pictured during script reading rehearsals for the short film ‘Derry Fancy Dress Competition 1969’, one of 12 short films currently being made by Stage Beyond with the theme ‘Mind the Time’, at the Culmore Community Hub. DER2120GS – 077

Mind the Time is unique to our company in that it has challenged the actors to draw on their own personal memories, with the help of their mentors. Some really fantastic memories have been creatively developed and depicted thus far, all based around the Proustian concept of ‘involuntary memory’.

Last week we were on set in Culmore Point, where one of our members took us back to a very distinct memory of the 1969 Derry Fancy Dress competition, where he won first prize as The Milky Bar Kid!

For so many, the Milky Bar Kid theme song from the television adverts by Nestle is hugely iconic, and it was a vital trigger point for this particular memory.

One might think it would be almost impossible to access the rights to such a cultural touchstone for a local theatre company production, but Stage Beyond were undeterred!

Among the members of the Stage Beyond acting group, the film club and youth outreach programme taking part is young Noah Moore.

For this we have to thank the persistent efforts and determination of one of the film’s writer/directors, Ruairi Conaghan, who was able to persuade the very generous legal team at Nestle to grant permission! Legally and officially, the Milky Bars are on us!

Any theatre company will be aware that lack of accessibility has been detrimental to the mental health and morale of all of their members during such an uncertain and stressful time.

Stage Beyond, as a theatre company for adults with learning disabilities, functions as a crucial structure, support, and creative outlet for our members. Therefore it has been imperative for us to continue our process throughout the pandemic. We could not be more proud of our team, who have dedicated so much time and commitment to developing our lessons and productions, which in turn have kept the spirits up immensely.

For what we as a community have been through, Mind The Time will be the light at the end of a very uncertain tunnel; a film where we can access some of the most personal and sentimental memories of our wonderful members. Being involved in this process has been incredibly affirming for not only them, but the team here at Stage Beyond and the network of creative minds who have been enlisted to carry out the task of bringing this vision to the screen.

Among the members of the Stage Beyond acting group, the film club and youth outreach programme taking part is young Gabriele Duffy.

With the help of funding for this production from the Arts Council NI and Children in Need, we have accrued a team of four writer/director and seven cameramen. It is fantastically rewarding to be able to provide work within the creative sector, especially given how much the pandemic has affected employment opportunities.

“Not only has Mind the Time been a welcome opportunity for all of us, but it has truly highlighted an immense amount of talent in our actors; we are rewarded every day to be working with such highly gifted individuals.” (Ruairi Conaghan Actor/Writer/Director)

Undoubtedly it will be a joyous and emotional production when all is said and done, and we cannot wait to share this film with you all. In the meantime, enjoy some of our sneak peaks from this week’s set!

Pictured are some of the participants involved in Stage Beyond’s Mind The Time project.
Some of the participants, cast and crew take to the stage at Culmore Community Hub.