New production images have been released ahead of the world premiere this evening (Wednesday 20th Oct) of Department Story, the latest theatre production by Big Telly Theatre Company, presented as part of Belfast International Arts Festival.

The dark comedy takes audiences, digital and in-person through an immersive shopping experience they’re not likely to forget, or escape. Sited in a vacant retail unit on Belfast’s Royal Avenue, shoppers are welcomed instore by an overly enthusiastic team of staff who are only too happy to help. But it’s not long before things take a sinister twist: the shop is closing, forever.

Department Story smashes together flash theatre and physical fiction in a killer comedic spree through a department of stories, where everything returned has a tale to tell – a talking toaster, a dress with a past, a tight-lipped hoover who may well be a key witness – accessories after the fact. Browse through classic brands like Gogol’s Overcoat or take a punt on the latest must have tales as contributed by acclaimed writers Jan Carson, Cathy Carson and Roisín O’Donnell. The hunt for bargains shifts to a hunt for escape, as stories lament the perils of our relentless desire to bag the perfect life, as in-store shoppers end up with more than they bargained for, their fate lies with those shopping online – but can they deliver?

This new production created for both in-person and digital audiences by Big Telly Theatre’s Artistic Director Zoe Seaton and interdisciplinary artist Jack Hardiker demonstrates next level hybrid theatre made possible by the newly created Remote Control. The transformative white label platform revolutionises digital audience engagement, maximising the potential of a unique relationship between physical and remote (digital) live audiences. Developed with London based creative studio afew, the new platform offers digital audiences as much interactivity and quality as the physical audience, by presenting both groups complementary experiences of equal value.

The development of Remote Control reflects Big Telly Theatre’s combined previous success in reaching communities and creating work outside traditional arts spaces with recent success in digital innovation. The company firmly believe the new platform represents a genuinely unprecedented opportunity to finally redress the inequality of professional arts provision across Northern Ireland, and to continue to fight to ensure theatre is as accessible as possible, either online or in-person.

Zoe Seaton, Artistic Director of Big Telly Theatre Company said: “I couldn’t be more excited about Department Story. It feels like it’s the coming together of projects in shops like Worst Café, with the theatricality of something like Melmoth the Wanderer or Faerie Thorn and the digital wizardry we’ve explored throughout lockdown. The creatives are a dream team and the cast couldn’t be more charismatic. This is our first major collaboration with Jack Hardiker who really does ‘tell better stories with art and technology’ – Department Story is full of amazing stories, beautiful visuals and the most special of effects”.

“I just can’t wait. One of the most exciting things about it, there are many, is that we’re launching a unique platform called Remote Control, which will enable digital audiences to play a part in and actually influence the live show. Always at our best when we’re breaking new ground and throwing away the rule book, projects like Department Story are why we do what we do”.

Department Story is presented as part of Belfast International Arts Festival and runs from 20th October – 31st October 2021 online and in-person. To book visit –