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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.

It’s been an interesting 2 months since we at Devious Theatre have started our ‘In The Future When All’s Well’ residency in No. 76 John Street. It’s been pretty busy too… hence why this is the first time I’ve gotten around to doing any blogging here on the artists residency blog. But now that the madness of the first 8 weeks has subsided and Scratcher is done and dusted, I’m suddenly afforded the time to write! So I thought my first contribution to the blog should be a reflection on what we’ve done so far. Both in terms of production and space.

It was a bit overwhelming starting our residency at the same time as starting a new production of a brand new show. At the same time we were figuring out how to turn No. 76 into a theatre, we were starting rehearsals. As we were finding the right place for our porridge, tea and cups in the kitchen, we were doing costume tests and designing sets. As we were ripping down walls and cutting up carpet, we were shooting promo videos. It was a very intensive couple of weeks but it was by virtue of having a space we could work in and call our own that we managed to get through a huge amount of work. Indeed, at no stage did we fall behind on the production which was a massive bonus and proves how well the time and space worked for us. If I fell behind on anything, it was blogging here….tut.

No. 76 is by no means a conventional theatre space. It has low ceilings, white walls and is entirely carpeted! However, by virtue of being in residency we were able to accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives (as Bobby Darin once sang) and the feedback we got when audiences started filing into No. 76 was really positive. We had some problems (sight lines, not enough chairs, too hot, too cold) but we’ve put them down as teething problems and we’re confident that we can make the next 2 productions of ‘In The Future When All’s Well’ as effective and integrated into the space. Even after 8 weeks we still find ourselves lauding the fact that we get to rehearse in the same space that we perform in. There is no greater luxury for a theatre company. We also managed to get in all theatrical mod cons like a green room, dressing room and tech area. The adaptability of the Arts Office lended itself very well to a team of up to 20 people working there for a week. Not to mention accomodating an audience of 70 plus every night.

Scratcher went down exceedingly well and it was nice to fill the venue for the last 4 of the 5 nights. The next 4/5 months suddenly have a lot of momentum. It’s given us a great deal of confidence as we launch into the new production Shifting by John Kennedy, this week. Again, we’ll be transforming the place into a theatre venue, this time with a different layout and arrangement. But since we’ve ever so slightly gutted No. 76 the first time around, got rid of our seats and rigging, we’re now left with an empty canvas from which to work!I’ll be blogging more regularly here in the run up to Shifting, I swear!

Do pop in and see us, the kettle is always on!

John Morton

Shifting runs from 18th – 23rd of April in No. 76 John Street.

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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

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July 2020