Big Telly offers three thrilling new works at this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival, supported by the National Lottery

11th October, 2023

Critically acclaimed Big Telly Theatre Company, known for their pioneering and groundbreaking approach to playmaking, returns to this year's Belfast International Arts Festival (BIAF) with three exciting new works, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Building on the resounding success of their previous BIAF collaboration, Frankenstein’s Monster, Big Telly will once again challenge and entertain audiences with a diverse range of theatre, talks and cutting-edge technology.

Group of four people smiling at camera. Two are seating on black stools, one is stood holding a printed programme for the festival and the other is kneeling on a step ladder.
Pictured (L-R) are Dr Damian Smyth, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Dr Zoe Seaton, Big Telly Theatre Company, Gavin Peden, actor, and Richard Wakely, Belfast International Arts Festival.

First up is live theatre with And You Will Stand on Windswept Beaches on Friday 13 October. Writer, Owen Booth joins Big Telly again with this poetic deep dive into toxic masculinity and the editable self. And You Will Stand on Windswept Beaches is about how we live in a graveyard of our forgotten selves, it’s about men, about how they navigate the legacy of masculinity – and, ultimately, how to find a way beyond it. This work-in-progress has been developed with Gavin Peden as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) and Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC, QUB) with John D’Arcy as Creative Consultant.

Watch the video taken at rehearsals for, And You Will Stand on Windswept Beaches, below.

Actor, Gavin Peden
Actor, Gavin Peden.

Next up is Rear Windows on 4-5 November 2023, an online interactive and immersive experience based on Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1954 thriller Rear Window. This piece has been developed by Dr Eleanor Dare, Dr Dylan Yamada Rice and Dr Zoe Seaton, with support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery Organisations Digital Evolution Award.

Dr Eleanor Dare, says about Rear Windows, “We are bringing some urgent themes to this production, asking questions about AI and the ownership of images and words. What do young people think about artificial voices and scripts written by ChatGPT? What would happen if actors and musicians started to sabotage AI driven artworks? All of this is set in the world of Hitchcock's famous thriller, Rear Window, where curiosity drives the main characters into dangerous situations. This production is half comedy and half thriller with a bit of virtual reality and absurd dancing thrown in and it's set in the quality control department of a double-glazing firm.”

The final event from Big Telly at this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival is AI & Creativity – Friend or Foe?, a panel discussion at the University of Ulster on Saturday 28 October. Join an expert panel of Dr Eleanor Dare, a critical technologist who works with Game Engines and virtual spaces based at Cambridge University, and Dr Dylan Yamada-Rice, an artist and researcher specialising in storytelling and play, based at Plymouth University alongside Zoe Seaton, Artistic Director of Big Telly Theatre as they explore whether AI just gives an illusion of novel thinking, or whether it is possible for software systems to exhibit creative behaviour.

AI & Creativity – Friend of Foe? takes place on Saturday 28 October as part of the 2023 Belfast International Arts Festival.

Dr Zoe Seaton, Artistic Director of Big Telly Theatre Company said, “We couldn’t be more excited about these three events - they all feel genuinely experimental and collaborative, it’s an absolute honour to be working so closely with artists and innovators like Gavin, Owen, Eleanor and Dylan, John Darcy and the team at SARC - an army of alchemists!”

Dr Damian Smyth, Joint Head of Literature, Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to be principal funder of Big Telly Theatre Company who present three exciting events at this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival, including a new work with Arts Council Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) awardee, Gavin Peden.

“ACES is a National Lottery supported funding award presented to Northern Ireland’s most talented emerging and mid-career artists to enable them to take time out to create new work and develop their professional, artistic careers. ACES is about identifying those artists who have a unique, different, developing perspective on the world that we all share, and one of the characteristics of an artist like that is that they self-identify through the quality of what they do already - I think this is very much the case with Gavin Peden.”

To find out more information on all event at this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival and to book tickets visit