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A question for every member of the cast of our current play Smitten.

Ken McGuire (Dave / Producer)

What was your reaction to the uptake of singing and dancing in this version?

I’m all over it. There wasn’t half enough dancing in Cannibal! (2007) and the last time I danced on stage I wound up getting shot in the head as a result. I learned my lesson. Flash forward four years though and I’m looking forward to it. The dance rehearsals have been good craic and fair play to Gemma for putting up with us for the past few weeks. If you’re able to get over the fact that you’re dancing and prancing around like an eejit, then you’re sorted.

Amy Dunne (Cat)

Considering you’ve done 2 plays as part of the same season. Have you found any similarities with the concerns of your character here and your character in Scratcher?

Similar to Cat, McC was frustrated and wanted to take control of her situation. Cat is alot more reserved in her emotions but still manages to get her point across. McC however is alot more spontaneous in her actions and doesn’t think things through as much. McC would definitely beat Cat in a physical fight but I’d imagine Cat would tear McC to shreds verbally. They’re great ladies really!

John Morton (Writer / Director / Tommy)

So where next for Smitten? A book? The big screen? Another version in three years time with even more dancing and singing?

I’d love to do it again in 3 years but I think it would probably be more beneficial to use the same characters when I’m in my 30’s to talk about my 30’s. I have a screenplay and there has been some interest in it (which is me not trying to jinx it by saying from where) so I think ideally, I’d love to see it being made into a film. But yeah, I’ve been writing those characters since I was 17 and I figure I’ll get a lot more out of them. Whether people want to listen to them or not is another thing entirely.

Kevin Mooney (Niall)

Having directed and produced so many plays for us, were you excited to just be acting this time?

Yes. It’s nice to just worry about your own performance. I haven’t been onstage in quite a while though, so I was a bit nervous about getting back into it and shaking the dust off. But I’m really enjoying concentrating on the acting side of things. It’s been both relieving and terrifying.

Lynsey Moran (Ailbe)

Do you think the play gives an accurate view of Kilkenny? Or just not at all?

This play does show a side to Kilkenny, the side that we see when we’re in our twenties and do not know where our lives are going! Kilkenny is a beautiful place but like every twenty year old, we all need to leave at some point!

David Thompson (Kevin)

You weren’t in Smitten the last time. Seriously, what did you think of it?

I sat with Eddie Brennan who kept making snide remarks about the actors, he thoroughly ruined my theatrical experience. When he wasn’t talking, I really liked it, and all my friends were in it! This Smitten is much better though…

Maria Murray (Bronagh)

How have you found dance rehearsals on this production?

I have this theory that John and Gemma have actually collaborated to dance us all to death. Feeling a pain in places I never knew existed. But it is so much fun but fast, so many fast dances. Thursday mornings were my favourite rehearsals because at least when you were doing something embarrassing everybody else was right there doing it as well.

Annette O’Shea (Claire)

Your character Claire is pretty much the lead in this production. How have you been finding it?

The lead? I think it’s more of an ensemble! I have been finding it… tough I guess. But very exciting and exhilarating, the craic is had everyday.  I never take for granted how lucky I am to be working with such a brilliant company and so to be apart of that ensemble is fantastic. I am just out of college going into an uncertain business in an uncertain time so to be blessed with acting work of a professional standard is great. I get to work with amazing actors and an amazing company who have taught me so much. I am currently going through a time of great transition in my own life, like Claire, so I can certainly relate to her situation in a small way. That helps. I am really looking forward to getting onstage and giving Claire a chance to say her piece.

Jack O’Leary (Tony)

So, what’s your favourite musical and why?

Coincidentally enough The Wizard Of Oz because of the very clear literal views on what the characters are, view and want. Its actually quite simplistic and basic story telling but with a unique sugar coating that I’ve never seen before… Also it works really well with Dark Side of The Moon when you’re baked.

Suzanne O’Brien (Daffney Molloy)

You’re being well kept out of all the promotion (apart from this). How does that feel?

Ah sure lookit, it’s grand. It’s fun to be the character who’s doing something a little different to everyone else.

Smitten plays Kilkenny Arts Office from June 26th – July 2nd at 8pm nightly. It marks the final part of their In The Future When All’s Well residency. Tickets can be bought here in the Arts Office or booked on 0861048191. Online bookings can be made at tickets.devioustheatre.com

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Music is always a really big part of all our plays. We always figure that it just goes hand in hand with good dramatic expression.

And as play that’s trying to be a musical, Smitten is no different. It’s not like the party playlist of Shifting or the rabble rousing background drone of Scratcher. This is a unique beast made up of old time, classic musical numbers, modern dance hits, 80’s pop classics and some good old thematic tunes.(The pictures show the nice cd’s Paddy made up for the cast and crew)

Here’s what you might be hearing when you visit No. 76 from June 26th – July 2nd:

Tar and Cement – Joe Dolan

I Wish I Were In Love Again – Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney

Singin’ In The Rain – Gene Kelly

All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem

Close To You – The Carpenters

Theologians – Wilco

Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill – Jens Lekman

Worrying Is Wasteful – Supernova Scotia

Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen

Oh, Heart Don’t Be Bitter – Simple Kid

Cheek To Cheek – Fred Astaire

Age Of Consent – New Order

Silently – Blonde Redhead

4th Time Around  -Bob Dylan

Old Town – Phil Lynnot

Worms – Beth Orton

Somewhere In My Heart – Aztec Camera

My Maudlin Career – Camera Obscura

Hope you enjoy them when you come see the show. Some are sang, some are underscore and some are danced to. But they’re all important. You can’t have a musical without the music, right?

Well, we opened Smitten. And all in all, it went down really well.

It debuted in Cork on Thursday June 16th to a healthy house (around 50) and it went down really well across the board, even getting a nice standing ovation at the end.

Smitten had played as part of Solstice, a fantastic multi disciplinary arts festival that was located entirely within the Old FÁS Building on Sullivans Quay in Cork City. We were in the musical interlude slot which perfectly suited Smitten and indeed we were more ‘a play with a dash of music’ than ‘music with a dash of theatrics’.

The festival was extremely well run, organised and executed and the social aspect of it wherein we got to meet other theatre practitioners and companies was extremely beneficial. We managed to catch an awful lot of shows, attend a few of the symposiums that were on offer and in between we were able to lap up a lot of the sights and sounds of Cork City. It definitely provided a fantastic showcase for our work and company.

After our arrival back yesterday we’re now in the process of putting the show back together, stitching a little bit onto the 90 minute running time (well, 97 if the clocks tell the truth) and getting ourselves reblocked for our Kilkenny space.

It’s going to be a long week and a whole lot of elbow grease is going to be used up. The good news is that the play works and we have already had a great experience of playing it in front of an enthusiastic audience. Here’s hoping it goes down just as well in Kilkenny!

Smitten opens this Sunday June 26th and runs until Saturday July 2nd.

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.

From yellow to black.

For the first time since we’ve started our residency here in No. 76, we’ve decided to try and make the space look like a proper black box theatre. So this time we’re going to black out the walls, install a proper lighting rig and even go as far as building a stage. Yes, we’re going all out theatrical on this one. (Well, in as much as we can in a space that’s not a theatre. There won’t be a balcony or anything)

Which makes sense considering how theatrical Smitten is in itself. In fact, anything less probably wouldn’t have worked so well. The play is all about magical realism so we’re working overtime to make sure that the experience is properly magical for the audience and not too real. It’s a 70/30 balance we’re hoping… (they say optimistically)

Set building begins proper in here tomorrow morning and goes on all weekend so pop in if you want to look at us transforming this place beyond some form of recognition! Or else, a lot of people covered in black paint and cursing at each other. Once we’ve made a few more movements on the set itself, we’ll show you our initial design and we’ve gone about transforming the space. But for now, here’s a look at the lovely white walls and open space of No. 76 being transformed into a dark, black box type space. And you’ll also probably find a few little clues as to how we’re transforming the space for Smitten. Watch this space… we’re painting it black.

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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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