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The Fisherman’s Friend

Date: 29 Mar - 30 Mar 2024
Time: 8pm & 10am
Duration: 45 mins
Location: Upstairs at the MAC
£12 - £15
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Dates & Times


Audience Feedback

‘The relaxed environment throughout the show was excellent for me and my children, fantastic performance well done.’

Audience Feedback

‘The show was very creative imaginative amazing, lovely use of lights and puppetry the sign language was so inclusive and made me want to learn it more.’

Audience Feedback

‘I am not deaf but I do feel deaf culture needs to be highlighted more and this show definitely highlighted the deaf community.'

Audience Feedback

‘The show was inclusive and I want more of it. I would definitely come back to see it again.'

Audience Feedback

‘Amazing! The vibrational experience was great, the visual elements and puppetry was a joy to watch.’

Audience Feedback

"Quite honestly, I had been left somewhat disheartened with theatrical prospects in general over the last few years, but the efforts of your entire team have made me fall in love with the inspiration and possibility of the medium all over again. As someone with creative ambitions, you have granted me great fuel to leave behind the 9-5 scene and take action on my dreams once more!"

Audience Feedback

"To the artistic and technical masterminds behind Cre8 Theatre's Sleeping Beauty: many, many thanks for a splendid and lovely little show. It was conceived and executed just brilliantly. THIS COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!!!"

Team & Cast


  • Sarah Lyle: Director, Deviser
  • Sandy McAllister: LX
  • Garth McConaghie: Composer
  • Rick Paine: SM


Zoë McWhinney

Zoë McWhinney is a Visual Vernacular performer and a poet in British Sign Language (BSL). As a Deaf person and native BSL signer, she works as a freelance theatre maker, consultant and workshop facilitator in BSL storytelling, poetry and Deaf culture.

Rob Crawford

Rob Crawford is a theatre-maker, actor and facilitator from Newry. Rob’s primary passion is devising theatre and movement, having worked with Tinderbox Theatre on Ignition and Engine in 2019, as well as playing Ste in Pintsized Productions 31 Hours. Rob was part of The Movement Collective, who received the Audience Choice Award for their performance SHARKTANK, at Stockholm's Fringe Festival 2018. During Lockdown Rob transitioned to working as a facilitator, taking on the role of Facilitator in Residence for Bruiser Theatre 2021-2023. Rob continues to provide training across Northern Ireland, from Nurture units to Post-graduate workshops.

Sarah Lyle

Sarah was born in Belfast and trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, London, 2001-2004, and with The Jim Henson Company in puppeteering. Sarah comes from a performance background specialising in puppetry. Sarah writes, directs, and produces theatre freelance, and is Artistic Director of Cre8 Theatre.

Most recently Sarah wrote/produced/directed a modern adaption of Sleeping Beauty for the launch of the premier Deaf Arts Festival NI, which took place in the MAC, Belfast May 2023. Sarah has also written Robin Hood and the Peaceful People Posse and 6 other pantomime titles for Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena, annual pantomimes, the narrative for Puppets in your Place, REAP, Chemo Express, Sunni Explores: Respecting Difference (digital tour), Bubble Belfast Children’s Festival 2019, Pop Up Castle, Balmoral Show 2019.

Sarah has worked in television, including Pajanimals (Jim Henson Company with Sixteen South), Sesame Tree (Sixteen South and Sesame Workshop), Sketchy with Diarmuid Corr (Green Inc.), The Dwelling (Stirling Television), Building Energy Rating commercial (RTE), No Vote No Voice commercial (BBC NI), Casualty and Down to Earth (BBC).

Some of her theatre directing credits include Jack and the Beanstalk@the Drive In Cinema (Let’s Go Hydro Belfast), Hippos in the Shower (Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival), and The Girl on the Sofa (Prime Cut Productions), Puss in Boots: The Panto, Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale (Cre8 Theatre, Braid Arts Centre), Under the Hawthorn Tree (AD, Cahoots NI), 50 Shades of red White and Blue (audio drama, Red Brick Road Productions), Chemo Express (audio drama) and Fast and Loose (Accidental Theatre,) Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Annie Jr, Wonderful Wild West Musicals (Theatre at the Mill), Buddy the Elf (New Lodge Arts), High School Musical Jr, Honk Jr, Fame Jr, Hairspray, Curtain Up (Encore Arts, Courtyard Theatre).

Festival Info

Building on the success of the inaugural Deaf Arts Festival NI, launched in MAC Theatre, Belfast May 2023, Cre8 Theatre have engaged partners once again and are delighted to launch the festival in its second year 2024, growing from 2 plays in 2023 to a jaw dropping 20-event festival in only its second year.

Cre8 Theatre is the producing arts organisation behind the Deaf Arts Festival NI, working hard growing networks within the d/Deaf community, discovering partners and building relationships. The festival's aim is to:

  • champion the work of deaf people
  • include the d/Deaf community in creative practise
  • create accessible theatre,
  • promote inclusion
  • enable better access to the arts for d/Deaf professional artists and communities
  • facilitate communication between d/Deaf and hearing communities
  • break down barriers to communication through a celebration of d/Deaf culture

The festival enables d/Deaf and hearing artists to co-create, during the research, development, rehearsal, and performance schedule and place d/Deaf artists centre stage, prioritising d/Deaf audience experience.

Bringing together the d/Deaf community and raising awareness within the hearing community. Ultimately celebrating the beautiful, unique qualities inherent within d/Deaf identity and culture.

The festival is for deaf and hearing people to enjoy and has access and inclusion at its very core. Every event is suitable for both communities as there will be interpreters across all events over the entire festival weekend. Please see age group guidance per event.

The deaf community is a vibrant and active community and Cre8 are delighted to connect with d/Deaf communities across Northern Ireland and beyond, creating opportunity, access, and inclusion to arts activity for integrated audiences, as well as placing deaf artists in central roles on main stages.

The Journey

The festival is developing rapidly, lives within the d/Deaf community living here and further afield, and is striving to create access and equality in the creation of artistic works. All events within the festival have been designed and delivered by deaf artists, building on the relationships established and nurtured over the last 3 years.

Cre8 Theatre

Cre8 produce a range of visually stunning, inclusive, community focused artistic events ranging from:

- stage shows
- digital educational/theme-based school tours
- community puppet shows
- creative workshops
- pantomimes
- creative activity focus on integration of d/Deaf community into the arts

During Deaf Awareness Week, May ‘23 Cre8 produced the inaugural Deaf Arts Festival NI, showcasing ‘Sleeping Beauty’, A family-friendly, inclusive musical theatre production created for both hearing and D/deaf audiences, featuring both deaf and hearing artists. Cre8 has also been working on school tours with Belfast City Council, large-scale puppet shows within Ards Puppet Festival, pantomimes in Braid Arts Centre and creative learning workshops with the d/Deaf community NI.


Thanks to those who have supported this work showcasing deaf artists: The MAC Theatre, Halifax Foundation NI, Arts Council NI, Belfast City Council, Sign Source learning, and Carbrothers NI.

Get Involved

We are excited about growing with the d/Deaf community in NI, Ireland and beyond. Please do get in touch with us, introducing yourself and maybe leaving us some feedback on the festival 2024.

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