We hit the Arts Office hard this weekend to put in place some of our set but mostly, we focused on building the stage for Smitten.

Yes, the stage! The residency has enabled us to afford to build our own staging, something which will stand in good stead to us for the next few years! It’s the first time we’ve done anything approximating a proper stage in the Arts Office for any of the shows and we’re hoping that it really adds to the bigger theatrical vibe in Smitten.

We’ve deliberated over the past few weeks as to what we’d use as a floor. We wanted a bit more variety than the carpet of the Arts Office (which in fairness has done us proud in Scratcher and Shifting) but we’re also well aware that the dancing mightn’t work as well on a wooden stage… lots of unwanted noise as 10 actors hop, leap and tap around the place. We’ve done some basic dance tests that seem to indicate we should be okay. But we’re not going to know until we do the testing the week before the show.

We’ve put it in place and it looks really well and hopefully it will set this play apart from the other two productions. Eddie Brennan, our set designer of many years, put the plan in place for the floor and assisted by an army of our crack team of theatre professionals, the staging was built and (slightly) fitted on Saturday. The pictures here will give you some idea as to how it’s looking.

This past weekend we spent many hours turning the Arts Office into one big production factory as set building, rehearsals, costume fittings, dressing room buildings, prop design and a whole bunch of singing and dancing.

And of course, there’s the above picture of what the finished product is going to be like. Designed by Eddie, with some help on the visual presentation front here by Paddy Dunne, it doesn’t stray too far from our initial Smitten set design of 2008. It’s framed by the familiar arch of the Butterslip (which as you can see here is perfectly created by the arch in No. 76). The rest of the set is a magic realism version of various Kilkenny attractions like the Tholsel, Canice’s Tower and obviously Kilkenny Castle. They’re all quite colourful, like the rest of the play really and keeps with our general rainbow aesthetic that we’ve got going on with Smitten.

The basic idea with the set was to do a classic Hollywood musical designed by Michel Gondry and then run from there. So that’s what we’re aiming for… will we achieve it? Fingers crossed!

Whilst we’re dashing off to Cork for Solstice, the set will be put in place in the Arts Office for the Kilkenny run. Obviously the plan is that it looks something like what you see in the above picture.We want to create a fully immersive experience for the audience in as much as we can and we’re quietly confident that it’s really going to transform the space for what will be our third and final time!

As for Cork? We’re bringing 2 plinths, 6 chairs and 2 boxes of props. We could call it downscaled but that’s an argument for another day.

Smitten plays No. 76 John Street from June 26th – July 2nd. Tickets are available from the Arts Office and on 056 – 7794138.

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