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The dawning realisation that we’re nearly halfway through Shifting hit  us during this weekend. Time certainly flies. And when you’re on residency here in No. 76 and you’ve got a production every 2 months, then time really flies an awful lot quicker.

This weekend we arrived at the stage where the play is pretty much blocked (give or take a few entrances and exits) so now we have another 3 weeks to knock it all into shape, tighten it up, throw things out, throw new things back in and generally make the best play that we possibly can. The actors on this one have taken to a Devious Theatre production like fish to water and I’m already confident that they’re going to really establish themselves as some of the best young actors in Kilkenny once the play opens. It’s been great to get so many talented young people into the Arts Office and have them making theatre.

One of our big areas of focus on this production is going to be turning No. 76 into the sitting room location that Shifting takes place in. I think people might well think that the formation we used for Scratcher is going to be the one we’ll use here but there’s a big difference between having an abstract dole office set up and a fully functional sitting room for a house party.

Our set designer Eddie Brennan came up with the idea of building a sitting room into the corner of the Arts Office where there’s already existant windows and doors. Then we had the idea that because the play happens in real time that we can use a certain amount of natural lighting which hopefully will look quite nice if the sun comes onside with us! We’ve put out a call for couches (which was kindly answered) and we’re slowly but surely starting to move in everything that will turn the space into a sitting room. The toughest part is going to be the walls. We know we want them to be yellow (like the colour scheme in the poster) but we’re not sure if wallpaper or paint is going to be our best bet yet. What we do know is that we want to have a really well laid out, immersive, detailed set that will give the actors plenty to interact with and can really thrust the audience into the world of the play. At least that’s the idea!

Turning No. 76 into different theatrical spaces has been one of the most exciting parts of the residency. We really enjoyed giving audiences a completely unique experience for Scratcher and we’re equally excited about doing it for Shifting. Audiences like to walk into new spaces and see something that they haven’t before. For us, we get to take our blank canvas of a room and turn it into something else altogether. We hope it’s going to make for an exciting theatrical experience when the play opens in 3 weeks time.

So make sure you come along between April 18th and 23rd and see what we’ve done with the place!

We’re happy to announce that physical tickets (as in the super awesome printed tickets disguised cleverly as party invites) for Shifting are now on sale and are available to reserve or collect in person at 76 John Street.

Reservations can be made by phone to 056-7794138 for every performance date except Monday April 18th. For the opening night of the show we’re inviting youth groups, younger theatre goers and students to avail of a special €5 ticket (please don’t be offended if we ask for ID). These special tickets are only available to buy in person. They won’t be online and cannot be reserved over the phone. You can pick them up here at the Arts Office, or on the door on the Monday night of the show.

If you can’t get to town and would rather order tickets online, you can do so here and have your tickets emailed to you immediately on purchase. Tickets purchased online include a €1 booking charge.

As the old ads on the telly say, “Don’t delay, book today!” But seriously, given the unprecedented demand for tickets for Scratcher in February, you would be well advised to book without delay.

Every time we’re just about to start the heavy promo for the next show we’ve got coming up, you can usually find myself (Ken), John, Paddy and anyone else who’s involved in the hands-on side of things standing around asking ourselves “why do we do it?” On normal Sunday mornings everyone else is tucked up in their bed, rolling over for a second sleep but at Devious Theatre it’s absolutely all systems go and yesterday was no different.

The days turn into nights here at No. 76 and likewise the weeks run into weekends as we’ve taken to running things seven days a week since Scratcher. So yesterday, true to tradition of our promotional poster shoots, we found ourselves setting up lights, green screens, moving furniture and everything else besides from the early hours of a Sunday morning for the cast to clock in at 10:30am to get into costume, makeup and everything else that was required.

The only thing we’ll tell you for now is that the promo material involves a couch – and that’s all you’re getting for the moment. Our thanks to Susan and Terry (VibrantIreland.com) for the donation of the couch for the production. We were told it was going to be a comfy couch with plenty of room for men sitting down and it’s living up to everything we thought it would be.

But at the end of the day, we take great pride in our promotional material. You’ve seen the videos from Scratcher posted here on the blog already, along with the promotional imagery that was used for the play. Those on the Friends Of programme may have a small but growing collection of DVDs complete with custom artwork for each production while the front of No. 76 is also becoming a gallery to show posters and photos from previous productions.

We put the time and effort into planning and plotting these shoots, making use of green screens, multiple cameras, lighting setups, picking locations, days, times and everything else because, when it comes down to promoting a show – and promoting a show effectively – these things matter. The process has become second nature to us after five years of early morning setups leading to late nights at the desk but if there’s one thing we couldn’t stress enough as a theatre company, particularly when you’re starting out, is to never skimp on your promotional material. Ever.

With Heart Shaped Vinyl (2007 version) we took the bold step of creating not one, but six individual posters for the show. With Cannibal! The Musical (2007) a conversation over breakfast one morning lead us to recreating the last supper over two mornings. With Trainingspotting (2008) we had our main poster, plus an individual poster for every cast member and their back story, shot at different locations over a two week period. With Stags and Hens we built a fake pub toilet for all the images that went into the main poster, plus created different posters and photos for elements within the show (like shooting for a gig poster for the fictional band in the show, appearing in 1978, which we would go on to hang in the toilets in the theatre).

On one side, we do it because we can do it. We’re lucky to have, within our core group, film makers, graphic designers, photographers, sound designers and more (some people wearing a lot more than one hat) but more importantly we do it because we know it will capture attention. It will turn heads. It will, hopefully, bring people through the door and into a seat on the night of a performance. That time, at the weekend, pays great dividends in the long run.

Lesson for the day aside, you’re about to get more of the same from us for Shifting. Yesterday’s photo shoot at No. 76 went down great with the cast, yielded some great shots and thanks to the quick assembly work of one Paddy Dunne, should yield some fantastic promotional posters as well. But for now, all you’re getting is a couch. You can figure the rest out.

With the photos done, next weekend we move onto the video side of things for the first of the promotional trailers for Shifting. If you’ve already seen enough and you’re looking for tickets then look no further – you can get your tickets online here (with secure payment).

Time is flying by at No. 76. As in, quite literally, flying. With a capital F. Scratcher is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as we find we’ve missed St. Patrick’s Day in the blink of an eye, due largely in part to working with this bunch.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new additions to The Devious Theatre Company. In most shows we try to add one new face, or at least one face that wasn’t in the previous show. This time, we’re adding twelve though folks who made the trip to Scratcher in February or Stags and Hens in July 2009 may remember one of the cast of Shifting but outside of Geoff, there’s eleven faces there that have never appeared in a Devious production before.

That’s all about to change, of course.

With a poster shoot planned for this weekend and a video shoot planned for next weekend – both in the Arts Office – we’re now just a month away from opening Shifting, written by John Kennedy, as the second of three works in our residency.

The cast, pictured above includes (if you can read the inscription on the photo) Connie Walsh, Alex Christle, Ruth Phelan, Alan Doyle, Aoibhin Murphy, Jessica Walsh, Rhian Gibson, John Kennedy, Adrian Kavanagh, Colin O’Brien, Geoff Warner-Clayton and Peter O’Connor.

Shifting kicks off at No. 76 on Monday April 18th and yes, we’ll be performing on Good Friday too so if you’re looking for a reason to get out of the house, then let Shifting be it.

Tickets are on sale online NOW and will be available to buy in person from this Wednesday.

Local photographer Pat Moore stopped by Scratcher during one of our performances in February and has kindly sent on a few photos for us. You can check out Pat’s work online at PhotosByPatMoore.com.

If you missed out on Scratcher, here’s a look back at what went on. Hopefully we’ll have some video to share with you in the next few weeks.

You can view these photos and loads more besides over on our Flickr account.

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Art at No. 76

The aim and focus of the Art Residency at No. 76 is to enable the successful applicant to research and develop their practice. Other aims of the residency are to: give insights into how and why artists create their work, build relationships and further promote the Arts, provide an awareness and further appreciation of the Arts, cultivate and develop new audiences. The Kilkenny Arts Office is part of ArtLinks.ie

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March 2011
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