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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

We’ve just unveiled the entire trio of posters for Shifting. The print copies arrived at No. 76 yesterday and we immediately started into a redecorating spree down the front of the Arts Office. There’s currently a big A0 version in the main window of the arts office with lots of other ones decorated elsewhere. As you can see, the set of 3 form one main poster when they’re put together so we’ve got a lot of each. Roughly speaking, it breaks down as 25 posters of the individual posters, 15 large versions of the main poster, 10 landscape versions of the main poster and the aforementioned A0. If there’s one thing we don’t do by half, it’s our posters. It’s without doubt the most important part of promoting a play. And already these posters are getting some passers by stopping and checking out the display. Yellow is a colour we haven’t really used in the colour palette for any of our shows before and we thought it was a nice youthful, summery colour for the play. Also, Kilkenny colours for a Kilkenny play!  The new posters also got posted around the town yesterday so we’re hoping with their yellow, eye catching design, it’ll grab a few eyes and persuade them to visit No. 76 when Shifting plays from April 18th – 23rd. Here’s the entire collection!

The dawning realisation that we’re nearly halfway through Shifting hit  us during this weekend. Time certainly flies. And when you’re on residency here in No. 76 and you’ve got a production every 2 months, then time really flies an awful lot quicker.

This weekend we arrived at the stage where the play is pretty much blocked (give or take a few entrances and exits) so now we have another 3 weeks to knock it all into shape, tighten it up, throw things out, throw new things back in and generally make the best play that we possibly can. The actors on this one have taken to a Devious Theatre production like fish to water and I’m already confident that they’re going to really establish themselves as some of the best young actors in Kilkenny once the play opens. It’s been great to get so many talented young people into the Arts Office and have them making theatre.

One of our big areas of focus on this production is going to be turning No. 76 into the sitting room location that Shifting takes place in. I think people might well think that the formation we used for Scratcher is going to be the one we’ll use here but there’s a big difference between having an abstract dole office set up and a fully functional sitting room for a house party.

Our set designer Eddie Brennan came up with the idea of building a sitting room into the corner of the Arts Office where there’s already existant windows and doors. Then we had the idea that because the play happens in real time that we can use a certain amount of natural lighting which hopefully will look quite nice if the sun comes onside with us! We’ve put out a call for couches (which was kindly answered) and we’re slowly but surely starting to move in everything that will turn the space into a sitting room. The toughest part is going to be the walls. We know we want them to be yellow (like the colour scheme in the poster) but we’re not sure if wallpaper or paint is going to be our best bet yet. What we do know is that we want to have a really well laid out, immersive, detailed set that will give the actors plenty to interact with and can really thrust the audience into the world of the play. At least that’s the idea!

Turning No. 76 into different theatrical spaces has been one of the most exciting parts of the residency. We really enjoyed giving audiences a completely unique experience for Scratcher and we’re equally excited about doing it for Shifting. Audiences like to walk into new spaces and see something that they haven’t before. For us, we get to take our blank canvas of a room and turn it into something else altogether. We hope it’s going to make for an exciting theatrical experience when the play opens in 3 weeks time.

So make sure you come along between April 18th and 23rd and see what we’ve done with the place!

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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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March 2017
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