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WE’RE OFF to Cork. We’ve been working away in the Arts Office every day for the past two weeks in the preparation for Smitten. More photo shoots, video shoots (video coming soon), more props, more costumes, more acting – or less acting to be specific. We’ve made a few chops and changes, dropped a scene or two, packed our bags and now we’re ready to hit the road.

Are we excited?

Yes.

Are we ready?

Yes.

Are the good people of Cork ready? Here’s hoping.

The Arts Office will be closed to the general public in our absence so if you’re looking for tickets for Smitten in Kilkenny, the best we can advise you to do is the get your tickets online here or phone 056-7794138 and leave your details for a reservation. We’ll contact you as soon as we’re back in Kilkenny.

Solstice, where we’re heading, marks our second adventure outside of Kilkenny for the year. When we started out five years ago we had touring the top of our agenda, and it’s been there every year since. I think one of the goals we had for the residency was to develop some work that could travel and maybe put ourselves in a position to tour at the end of the residency but as things panned out, by the time we finish up at No 76 next month we’ll have not one, but two festival appearances under our belts, with two different shows.

So, hopefully the good people of Cork will enjoy what they see as much as we’ll have enjoyed putting it all together. Of course, if you like what you see in Cork this Thursday evening at 6pm in the Old Fás building on Sullivan’s Quay (like the plug?) then you’ll love what opens at No 76 on June 26th. Call it the all-singing-all-dancing-all-technicolour extended version, a treat for the home audience.

We’ll go break legs, not hearts. Wish us look, we’ll see you on the other side and we’ll be back in the office on Monday to get our Kilkenny groove on. Just to finish on a light note, here’s a few things you might not know about Cork. We’re all about learning and informing, or didn’t you know that?

  • County Cork is the largest County in Ireland, and Cork City is Ireland’s third largest city after Dublin and Belfast. The area of Cork City is 3,731 hectares. County Cork covers an area of 7,459 square kilometres or 2,880 square miles, which is 11% of the Irish State.
  • There are many tourist attractions in Cork and one of the most popular is Blarney Castle, here you will get an opportunity to ‘Kiss The Blarney Stone’ – when you kiss the Blarney Stone it is said you will get the ‘Gift of The Gab’ meaning you will speak in a persuasive and interesting way! Don’t forget too, there’s also Solstice.
  • Cork Harbour is said to be the second largest harbour in the world, after Sydney Harbour in Australia. The motto on the coat of arms of Cork City is ‘Statio Bene Fide Carinis’ which means ‘A Safe Harbour for Ships’. Only thing is, when Devious Theatre arrive in Cork, you know someone’s gonna see us and utter the phrase “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”. At least they have the harbour for it anyway, what?

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.

The tickets for Smitten have just arrived in No. 76 waiting to be sold to the public! They’re nice and pink and smaller than usual (we modelled them on the cinema tickets from the old Regent cinema here in Kilkenny) and they can be bought for the princely sum of €12.

However, if you buy tickets for the opening night on Sunday June 26th, they’ll only cost you the knock down price of €8.

As usual with our In The Future When All’s Well shows, there are only 70 tickets per night and like the last two shows, it is likely they will sell out quickly!

So why not pop into the Arts Office now and pick them up? Alternately, you can make a booking with Niamh on 056 – 7794138.

Smitten runs from Sunday June 26th – Saturday July 2nd at 8pm nightly.

Smitten is the first time we’ve restaged a show in our 5 years of existence. We always felt our first production of it, whilst adequate, wasn’t exactly the barn burner we wanted it to be. All puns intended, because it played in The Barn back in 2008 and it was putting the show on in such a fantastic, unique space that really made it the last time. We only ended up having 5 weeks rehearsal off the back of Trainspotting, the script itself needed more time and from a production perspective we were very overstretched.

A promo image from the first version of Smitten in 2008.

That being said, it sold out every night and people said some really nice things about it. We just knew ourselves that we could do a better version of the show. And I knew myself I could write a better version of the show.

When the residency here in the Arts Office came up, we knew Smitten would be the right play to explore the themes of the residency. The play itself is about growing up, finding your feet in life, deciding whether to stay or go and embracing reality.

I worked on the script a lot throughout 2010 and again during the first few months of the residency (whenever we had a spare minute) and it’s been kicked into shape. Better shape I think.

The major changes are that I’ve re envisaged the play as a musical. Well, it’s not even so much a re envisaging as it is a reintegrating. The musical element of the story (introduced by the musical obsessed Daffney Molloy character) was there in my original script but when the first version went into production everything ended up getting downscaled due to time and production constraints until we were eventually left with a play that had some very light musical elements. The main thrust of Smitten is the contrast between the magical projections you have of your life when you’re older and how mundane real life could be. And musicals were always the most interesting way for me to explore that. What better illustrates the differences between fantasy and reality than jumping into song and dance at random moments when the emotion overpowered you?

I’ve also streamlined the play in terms of characters (we’ve chopped out 3) and put the focus more so on one main character than the ‘interlinked vignettes’ style of the first version.

So it’s got more narrative thrust, it’s got more dancing, it’s got more singing and it’s in a completely different space. We hope that the new version of it really does the idea justice and I really hope that it does the cast justice (most of them are the same!).

Tickets are still on sale at tickets.devioustheatre.com and you can get them now! Smitten plays the Arts Office from June 26th – July 2nd.

Over the past week we’ve launched and started rehearsing for the final show in our residency, Smitten. It’ll mark the third part of our ‘In The Future When All’s Well’ season here in No. 76, following on from our last production John Kennedy’s Shifting.

We’ve previously performed Smitten in The Barn in 2008 but this is a rewritten version, with less characters, an updated story and a lot more dance. Lots of dance in fact. We’ve tagged it as ‘a play that wants to be a musical’ and it’s currently holding up the musical end of the bargain. Not there’s been a lot of singing yet. But I’m sure we’ll get there.

The play itself is a sort of romantic comedy set in present day Kilkenny with a heavy dose of magical realism. Which is where the musical aspect comes into it. What’s a better example of magical realism that people randomly breaking into well orchestrated bouts of song and dance?

Well, it’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it.

With our choreographer Gemma Grant, we’ve been experimenting with some really nice dance transitions. It’s definitely strange doing so much dancing in the wide open space of the Arts Office. But it definitely gives passers by and droppers in something to look at. Namely, a bunch of crazy looking people giving it socks.

Smitten plays in the Arts Office from June 26th – July 2nd. Online tickets are currently available on tickets.devioustheatre.com

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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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