Lay Down Your Heart

Wednesday October 4, 2023 at 6:30 pm Pacific Time

Almost Live episode 130

Meet Niall McNeil, an artist and performer with Down syndrome, and his remarkable chosen family.

VocalEye is excited to announce a new collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and to launch our 4th season of Almost Live events with this beautiful film.

An accomplished artist, a lifelong performer and a person with Down syndrome, Niall McNeil has built a unique family tree of blood and chosen relations made up of his closest friends and collaborators. In Lay Down Your Heart, Niall introduces his “family members,” his multiple “children” (some twice his age!), his renowned “ex-wife” and director of the film Marie Clements, and more. Bonded together by shared creative passion and their relationships with Niall, his family includes some of Canada’s most outstanding theatrical and artistic talent. By exploring his unconventional family histories—sometimes factual, sometimes infused with fantasy, but always deeply felt—Niall’s limitless imagination drives him toward the heart of human connection.

This documentary film is presented with audio description, courtesy of the NFB.

Host Amy Amantea will be joined by special guests Niall McNeil and Joan McNeil for conversation and community Q and A.

Running time is 70 minutes.

Written by Marie Clements and Niall McNeil
Directed by Marie Clements

Almost Live online Zoom events are designed for people who are blind and partially sighted, but everyone is welcome! Check your time zone with this handy Time Zone Converter

Registration is required for first-time attendees. You can sign up for one event or the whole season free of charge.


About Niall McNeil, Performer and Writer

Niall’s creative accomplishments are many and include performing with Caravan Farm Theatre in the Okanagan, Vancouver’s Leaky Heaven and Neworld Theatre, and in Ottawa with the English Acting Company of the National Arts Centre. With his collaborators, he’s written and published a number of plays, including Peter Panties and King Arthur’s Night, and in 2022 Niall became the first artist with Down syndrome to be awarded a Canada Council for the Arts Composite Grant to support the development of three new multidisciplinary works. 

About Marie Clements, Writer and Director

Marie has ignited her brand of artistry within a variety of mediums including film, TV, radio, and live performance. As a writer, director and showrunner, Marie is currently working on a slate of television projects including Our Beloved Kin with co-showrunner Michael Hirst produced by Devonshire Productions/Conquering Lion Pictures, The Red with co-showrunner Sherry White produced by Halfire Entertainment/Eagle Vision. MCM (Marie Clements Media) projects in development include Bones of Crows with Screen Siren Pictures/Sam Grana Productions, Sparrow with Wind Sun Sky Entertainment/Eagle Vision, Winnetou with Rezolution Films/Cedar Island Films, and feature films Tombs with Screen Siren Pictures, McLean Brothers with Soapbox Productions and Reclaim My Skin with Rezolution Pictures. As a writer/director Marie is working on feature documentary We Are Family with the National Film Board, and is set to direct Warrior Ride with M1 Films.

About the NFB

The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit