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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).

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.

If there’s one thing I’ve loving about the residency at No. 76, it’s the chance for us to get the good ship Devious in proper order and give us some time to get through the archives.

One of the activities planned for our time here is the development of some new audio theatre pieces comprising short promos and a full length radio production. Back in 2008 we recorded our own version of The War Of The Worlds to mark the 70th anniversary of the history brodcast by Mercury Theatre. The following year we scooped a PPI radio award for our production and while it’s been online in one form or another since then, we’ve finally started to get all of our audio bits and bobs under the one roof – SoundCloud.com.

I’m a great advocate of SoundCloud for its sharing abilities and make regular use of it for other podcasts I’m involved in producing so if you’ve never heard The War Of The Worlds, click play above to get started. At present, you’ll also find a few advert promos we recorded in house around WOTW, Cannibal! The Musical!! and a track we recorded specifically for Trainspotting, again in 2008.

We’ll be adding to this lot over the coming weeks and months with more interviews, script tests, older show promos and anything else we can get our hands on. It’s not just the stage you’ll find us on…

Well, there you have it. Scratcher is done and dusted. We built things up, had a ball, broke them down and we’re going to build even better things in their place. That place will be Shifting, coming to the Arts Office in April but we’re allowing a few days of dust to settle on Scratcher before we kick off again.

So how did it all go?

In fairness, it was a fantastic week. We had good numbers for the opening night and had to operate a waiting list for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, something we’ve never done before but, for the most part, it worked out. People who were unable to get tickets having turned up on any of the nights in question were able to walk away with tickets for other nights (barring Saturday, of course) and as it happened, over the course of the week, we wound up increasing the capacity gradually from 70 to 80.

Lessons were learned, the craic was had, experiences shared – but that’s part of the residency. We’re here to work, to build, to devise, to share and at the end of the day, put on a cracking good show. Judging by the reactions from the audience across the week I think we can say that we’ve achieved that. Initial reviews and feedback have been great but good, bad, or otherwise, feedback is very much something we always welcome so if you made the show last week, leave a comment and let us know what you thought.

In true Devious fashion, everything lined up right before the deadline. Costume, seating, rostrum, late prop additions, set dressing, sound, lights and more. On that note, we do have people to thank who weren’t directly involved in the production but without whose suppose the show would have been something completely different altogether. Those include Maeve Butler at The Hub, Cillin Hill for arranging the seating for the venue for the week; Vincent Dempsey and Barnstorm Theatre for the use of rostrum and rails to created the tiered seating in the arts office; Barry Reilly of the Bridgebrook Arms in Thomastown and Peter Roberts of The Mill Studio for provision of par can lighting for the week. We’re quite resourceful when it comes to getting props, costumes and technical equipment for shows but seating and lighting are two things that don’t come with the Arts Office space.

The cast of Scratcher were Alan Butler, Ross Costigan, Amy Dunne, Ken McGuire (Producer), John Morton (Director), Annette O’Shea and David Thompson. Behind the scenes of course, we wouldn’t be able to function on the night without Angela Barrett (Assistant Director), Paddy Dunne (Producer), Lucy McKenna (Costume), Linda Hanbidge (Makeup), Richie Cody (Lighting), Geoff Warner-Clayton (Sound) and our front of house team of John Kennedy (writer of upcoming production, Shifting), Alex Christle, Sorcha O’Boyle, Eleanor Walsh and some man Eddie Brennan.

Having wrapped on Saturday, Monday was spent emptying the Arts Office and resetting things to zero, literally. Seats gone, carpet being cleaned, walls painted, gaps filled, back to new. Until next week. Next week we ramp things up again with the introduction of Shifting, the second piece of our residency, penned by young-writer-in-residence John Kennedy and we’ll have details on all of that mighty soon. We’ve also got a ton of photos to get through on the Scratcher front as well to share with you online. We’ve also had the entire production filmed and hopefully we’ll get to share some clips with you before Shifting lands.

In the mean time, we’re off to redecorate the office space in the Arts Office. If you’re passing by No. 76, do drop in, you’re most welcome. Finally, our thanks once again to Mary & Niamh here at 76 and everyone who took the time out to catch Scratcher in Dublin and Kilkenny, we hope we kept you suitably entertained.

Photo above by Pat Moore Photography

Yes folks, proof that theatre now exists at No. 76 John Street.

While theatre exists, we may be beating our actors up in rehearsals. Just a little bit.

But the most important thing, is that Ken (as in me, as in I) gets to sit down during rehearsals, with his feet propped up by fellow actors. Mind you, I’ve already been physically put through a chair, so I figure getting to sit down every now and again isn’t so bad.

Rehearsals are ticking along very nicely, schedules are being hammered out for the final two weeks before we head to Dublin and the record for “keepy uppy” stands at a prestigious 118.

In preparation for Dublin, we hauled the main cast of Scratcher to Dublin yesterday for a few hours at THEATREclub’s space at The Lab on Foley Street, all done under the watchful eye of Annie Ryan, Artistic Director and founder of The Corn Exchange. The feedback and external views on the show, provided by Annie, at this stage of production have proved to be most valuable indeed.

With the show opening in Kilkenny just under three weeks from today, we’ll be opening up the ticket sales this week through DeviousTheatre.com and here at the Arts Office on John Street. They’re not available to buy in physical form just yet, but trust me when I say you’ll be the first to know!

For more rehearsal photos from Scratcher, keep an eye on our own site over at DeviousTheatre.com and if we’re not already linked up on Facebook, drop us a line!

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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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