Storyhouse’s Kaleidoscope Festival returns for 4th year

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Storyhouse’s hugely popular Kaleidoscope Festival returns to Chester this summer for its fourth edition.

The festival, which takes place from 10-14 July, celebrates neurodiversity, inclusion and the talents of people living with a disability, and as usual it will include a fantastic and varied programme of events and activities including performances, workshops, music, dance, art and the premiere of a special piece created by the new Kaleidoscope Company of actors.

The 2023 festival is launched on Monday, 10 July when the third Chester Disability Pride Parade sees hundreds of people come out on to the city centre’s streets. This year’s event will feature Leeds-based brass band ‘Back Chat Brass’.

The parade starts outside Chester Town Hall at 11am and makes its way via Watergate Street and under Eastgate Clock to Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre where there will be a performance from actor and disability activist Paul Wilshaw, poetry, choir and brass band performances, and pop-up workshops and activities as well as a chance to mingle, eat, drink and relax.

The parade is one of only two in the UK alongside Brighton and aims to raise awareness of the 14.1 million people in Britain who are living with a disability.

Kaleidoscope continues on Tuesday, 11 July when Storyhouse’s Garret Theatre is the venue for two sessions of Laughter Yoga.

Sara Key, coach at Serious Laughter, will deliver the sessions which will concentrate on intentional laughter exercises, clapping and deep breathing, relieving stress and boosting the immune system while helping people to feel happy and connected with those around them.

New for 2023 is the Kaleidoscope Social which will be held in the Storyhouse Kitchen on the morning of 11 July and again on Friday, 14 July. It’s a space filled with comfy chairs, sofas and tables where festivalgoers can gather, chat and meet new people, and there will also be a sensory activity to explore.

Then step outside Storyhouse and head for Exchange Square, close to Chester Market, for Mind the Gap’s performance.

Mind the Gap is England’s leading learning disability and performance and live art company which has been developing talent and delivering bold, cutting edge, worldclass theatre for the past 25 years.

Finally on 11 July, the Garret Theatre is the venue for a Sing Along Cinema. Back by popular demand and hosted by Storyhouse’s own ‘greatest showman’, the evening features favourite cinematic songs you can join in with including those from Matilda, Grease, We Will Rock You, Dirty Dancing and The Greatest Showman. Dressing up is encouraged.

Wednesday, 12 July sees the return of the pop-up Kaleidoscope Makers Market where talented people can sell their fantastic and creative hand-made items in The Kitchen.

Meanwhile the Dorin Park School’s Performance features youngsters from the Chester school appearing on the Garret Theatre stage for the first time. Expect music, dance, plenty of smiles and some audience participation.

And in the evening, it’s the turn of Kaleidoscope’s Got Talent to take over the performance space with a unique event showcasing the incredible talents of Chester’s learning-disabled community.

The event is hosted by Storyhouse’s Joe Lewis with the first half featuring five performances from talented city people, while after an interval beatboxer Renegade will perform and also host a special workshop.

Thursday, 13 July opens with a Dance Performance and Workshop where members of the Canal Street Day Centre will perform, with a chance for the audience to get up and move too, while there’s also an exciting opportunity to get creative in three Painting to Music sessions hosted by artists Alison Pitt and Pat Tripney from Art in the Place.

The workshops will be inspired by the theme of music, with participants painting to a range of tunes which might prompt different brushstrokes.

The day’s busy programme comes to a fantastic finish with a special Minifest with live music by Artful Playground performed in the Garret Theatre.

Minifest is a fun musical experience featuring original songs – from rock ‘n’ roll to rap – as well as some old favourites and which all aim to stimulate the imagination and encourage physical activity. Artful Playground is a Manchester-based theatre company introducing music and live drama through exciting musical experiences.

And on Friday, 14 July there is the chance to enjoy a fantastic debut performance by the new disability-led theatre group Kaleidoscope Company, a collaboration between Storyhouse and Birkenhead-based theatre company RAWD to support, nurture and showcase talented disabled artists in the Chester area.

Joy! promises a colour explosion, giggles, mesmerising music and a happy story, devised by the company and which is certain to make your day a whole lot brighter.

The idea for the company was born, and a successful application was made to the Steve Morgan Foundation which offers funding grants to projects in North Wales, Cheshire and Merseyside that help children and families, people with physical and learning disabilities, the elderly or socially disadvantaged.

The grant will support the new Kaleidoscope Company over its first two terms – from March to July and September to December – and will allow for 15 free places, not including parents or support workers.

Individual events during the Kaleidoscope Festival are either free or cost £5 for participants, with carers or support staff going free.

Storyhouse communities manager Nicola Haigh says: “The Kaleidoscope Festival has become a fantastic annual fixture in the summer calendar and is much anticipated by our community here at Storyhouse.

“I describe the festival as promising a truly kaleidoscopic range of events to appeal to audiences, and this year’s programme, which has been designed in collaboration with a disability-led focus group, really underlines that.

“Meanwhile what better way to launch the festival than with the Chester Disability Pride Parade? Chester is one of only a handful of places across the world that celebrates Disability Pride in this way. We’ve expanded the parade itself this year with additional music, drums and entertainment, and I’m really excited for what should be an amazing day.”

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