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Helen O’ Leary, Outawack, the Butler Gallery

Saw a great exhibition in the Butler Gallery on Saturday by the artist, Helen O’ Leary. Really love her use of materials and the rawness of her work.  There was so much energy from it.

Helen O’ Leary, Outawack at the Butler Gallery

After 6 months, 3 shows, nearly 50 cast and crew, over 1,000 audience members and endless cups of tea, we at Devious Theatre have completed our residency in Kilkenny Arts Office.

It’s been an amazing, fantastic and hugely enjoyable ride and we’ve loved every second of it. It has really helped push us as a company and given us a platform from which we can engage with the next few years of our work.

The get out of No. 76 was a tough mistress and we were very sad to be packing, painting and rebuilding. But it was made all the sweeter by the news that we’ve acquired our own fulltime base in The Maltings off James Street. So we won’t be returning to our old homeless, guerrilla ways!

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mary Butler, Niamh Finn and Kilkenny Co. Council for all the amazing support and opportunities that they’ve given us over not just the last 6 months but the past few years. We couldn’t have done this without ye.

To the future, when all is well!

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

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.

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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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