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We’ve been working overtime on turning No. 76 into Kilkenny’s nicest, prettiest black box theatre space over the past few days and we’re nearly there!

It’s been a tough few days building, drilling, plotting, lifting, staging, teching, lighting, tea drinking, dancing, dressing, painting and theatre making but we’re on schedule to open Smitten tomorrow night with a bang.

The logistics of lighting the building have been completely different as we don’t have the natural darkness that Scratcher gave us in February or the real time light transition afforded to us in Shifting. Here, we need to block out all light and make a theatre.

And for the first time we’ve really made a go of turning the Arts Office into an actual theatre space. A lot of black paint has been used up, a lot of black curtains have been drilled in and 3 backstage areas have been put into place. And as for the set… well, it looks pretty theatrical.

But I guess theatre is the name on the tin, right?

Come see what we’ve done with the place when Smitten opens at 8pm tomorrow night in the Arts Office! The discounted opening night tickets at €8 are still available here. Bookings can currently be made on 0861048191.

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 had our first (and possibly last) poster and promo shoot for Smitten this past weekend.

It was a tight squeeze timewise on Saturday night but we managed to get a large amount of content, both for our poster and for a series of promo photos and images. Bases were covered all round!

It was also the first time we had all 10 members of the cast in costume and looking like their characters so it was doubly exciting. Our crack team of theatre professionals worked overtime to get everything up to speed and between props, make up and costume the look of the Smitten characters was brought roaring to life. It’s really at this point in a production where it starts to come to life as the actors finally get to grips with their costumes and how they look.

Again, it was another green screen job like the Shifting poster before it. We set up 3 green screens (2 for backdrop and 1 for the floor) in No. 76 on Saturday afternoon, spent a few hours lighting it and test shooting and then we let fly with the promo shots.

We tried hitting the town to get some exterior promo shots but rain + Kilkenny City on a Saturday night = Disaster. So we had to abort mission before returning back to the Arts Office to complete our shoot.

The concept of the poster is going to be very much in the style of a 1950’s movie poster and like the teaser poster has a whole load of rain and umbrellas. We’ll keep it all under wraps (and the characters) until the big reveal later on this week.

Keep an eye tuned in here and on the Devious Theatre website.

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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