Myself and Paddy have been scribbling away on the Vultures scripts the past few weeks and we’ve just finished Episode 4. Which I can happily and unofficially announce (as there’s most likely noone reading) that it’s entitled The Case Of The Poisoned Dates. Which is most definitely my favourite Vultures episode title so far, if not the most tenously related to the actual episode. Ah well.
It’s going into pre-production from this very week and is shooting from the last week of October to the last week of November. I’m really looking forward to knuckling into this one. After each one, I always end up kicking myself in the shins about something so it makes me want to knuckle into the next one all the more. This episode is being directed by Ross Costigan (big hair, big camera, big www.oss237.com) so it’ll be great to step back and let someone else have a crack of the whip on it. I’ve learned some invaluable lessons as a director on the first 3 but I need the time to catch my breath and get myself into good shape for the back to back Episode 5/6 shoot. Ross has a great visual eye and a first rate natural instinct for comedy so there’s noone better to take custody of the baby for a while.
All manner of official announcements and the like will be oncoming soon. But do check out the website because it’s still looking mightily pretty.
We’ve been hard at the recording of our 70th anniversary version of The War Of The Worlds the past week or so and we’re just about complete. Our trips into the studio have already started to pay dividends though and the first of 6 specially produced radio and web adverts for the production has just went online at our website www.devioustheatre.com and they’re also going to be airing on KCLR 96FM from this week too.
They’ve certainly succeeded in capturing that ‘epic’ feel that we’re looking for in the battle scenes. Our sound designer and producer Alan Dawson likes to go into his lab and tinker away for hours and Christ, the results are really something. We’ve been laying down vocals all week and we’re kind of going ‘Ah yeah, that seemed okay. Was that alright?’ and everyone else is like ‘Ah yeah.’ but you know, just know, that it’s going to go through the magic Daw sound filter machine and it’s gonna come out on the other end sounding, well, epic. Wellesian even.
The recording process so far has seen Kev, Ross, Ken, Daw and myself spending long, long hours in the studio, drinking ridiculous amounts of tea, copious amounts of biscuits and chain smoking stupid amount of fags. It’s been really intensive and a good working experience for us. From the get go, we approached this project as a group… there’s no Welles in our midst y’know? And we’ve tackled it as a group. Everyone is concise with direction and we’ve all been on the same page. As I mentioned in an earlier post, like excited kids getting to play in the classic sci-fi section of toy store. The sense of glee when we go through ideas for what the sound of a clanking tripod leg might sound like is just comical. Big kids for sure.
It’s been a real eye opener for me in terms of radio production. Just being in the booth for a couple of hours and acting to myself, using nothing but vocals and imagination has really blown the dust off me. And to be honest, I was nowhere near prepared well enough vocally for this. I came out of the booth just kicking myself yesterday. The demands of vocal performance are completely different from the physical side, you have to get across so much vocally. Everything. Not just the story itself but the colour, the emotion, the effect of the words, the nuance of it all. It’s a hugely demanding process and I have nothing but respect for the performers that can do it daily. I did a radio production of The Tain a couple of years back and I remember really preparing the shit out of it and working very hard on the craft of vocal work. Suffice to say, it’s something I really want to revisit. I haven’t focused on vocal performance in a while now and well, as recording The War Of The Worlds has proved, without your voice you’re fucked as a performer. Unless…
Alternately, don’t be surprised to see Devious Theatre doing Commedia Dell’Arte on the streets of Kilkenny next year. At which point, I’ll take off my mask and my tights, turn to everyone else covered in sweat and go ‘Jesus lads, I am fucking knackered. Fuck this physical theatre shit.’ Time to start brushing up all round methinks.
Watch The Skies. 30.10.08. It’s gonna be explosive.
Here’s more additions to the character profiles for Vultures. You can check them out on our ever expanding website at www.vulturespi.com. These are 2 character that were introduced in the second episode, ‘The Scarlet Lady Vanishes’.
NOAH HENNESSY (GUS MCDONAGH)
First up is the Italia 90 obsessed, permanently moustached taxi driver / butcher, Noah Hennessy played by Gus McDonagh. He’s a man not to be messed with. Especially if you try to strangle his prostitute girlfriend.
So after a month of teasing and dropping dates, making a go of a small viral campaign (if it’s good enough for the movies) and generally trying to get our wits about us, we launched our upcoming radio production of HG Well’s THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. All at the same as we relaunched www.devioustheatre.com with a brand spanking new look and fancy new features and other such bells and whistles.
WOTW is the perfect project for us to launch with as our first foray into radio theatre. It’s a classic piece of science fiction, we get to put our own spin on it and indeed, it couldn’t be timed more deviously. On 30th October 1938 Orson Welles launched his famous (or infamous) broadcast of the play on C.B.S. and caused what my mother would term as ‘absolute fucking ructions.’ A lot of people thought his radio broadcast themed account was actually a really Martian invasion of America and fled houses, burnt things and generally caused chaos. In all fairness to Welles, there were liberal sprinklings of disclaimers throughout his famous broadcast. Maybe people were too busy screaming to notice?
So, in a homage to Welles, we’re doing our own version, set entirely in the Kilkenny / Carlow region, 70 years to the date of his broadcast. We’re doing it radio program style initially but we’re branching out to include more elements from the book and try and utilise our modern setting as best we can. Myself and fellow Devious Theatre compadre Kevin Mooney have spent the past month secretely battering out the script for our version. Like a lot of previous adaptations, we’ve tried to allegorise it a little with references to global warning, Sellafield, immigration and even a little bit of recession. We’re trying to keep as close to the novel as possible and not be hokey about it. Martians have such a B-movie cheesy image at times. But not these rampaging fuckers. We’ve been working on the recording and everything has been a lot of fun so far. And hey, if all goes well a radio play could end up being a permanent yearly fixture for Devious Theatre. So we’re going to cross a few fingers on that one.
It’s a great opportunity for us to branch out into a different style of theatre. Myself, Kev, Ken and Ross have been giddily excited about it for the past couple of weeks. Like kids in a big radio theatre store, getting to play in the sci-fi classics section. It’s also a great opportunity to work on a project outside the summer months too. We were getting a bit of a ‘summer company’ rep so it’s nice to break the cycle we’ve established since 2006. Break it with some evil red weed, heat rays and killer black smoke.
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS will be broadcast on KCLR 96FM on October 30th 2008 at 9pm. It can also be listened to live on KCLR96FM.com. And do make sure to check out the bubbles and sparks at www.devioustheatre.com too. It’s fancy.
This is no doubt exactly how we’ll look whilst recording. Exactly like that.
We’ve got more updates on the VULTURES front. Little by little and bit by bit,we’re updating the website and this usually means getting through the backlog of material we’ve built up over the past year or so.
After introducing the new characters for Episode 3, we’re now re-introducing the characters from the first two episodes. So, from Episode 1 ‘The Kris Kringle Konundrum‘….
JACK STREET (ROSS COSTIGAN)
The spiky, snitchy street informant cum pimp wants nothing more than to be legit but it’s just his nature to be the dodgiest scumbag ever to open an advent calendar. His profile and pics have been added to the website so check him out at http://www.vulturespi.com/Episode_1.html
SARAH BLACK (NIAMH MORONEY)
Jim Vultour’s ex is a downtrodden, usually mild mannered tour guide with a fine line in oversized jumpers and oversized glasses. So at least she had something in common with Vultour. You can also read more about her at http://www.vulturespi.com/Episode_1.html
Episode 2 ‘The Scarlet Lady Vanishes’ had a screening at Podcamp Ireland (http://www.podcampireland.com/) on Saturday. It seemed to go pretty well but Christ, I really hate public speaking. It’s a completely different situation than having to pre-learn lines… I’m totally fucked if I ever need to make a wedding speech.
Smitten was the last play I wrote and it was performed Augst 20th – 23rd in The Barn, Church Lane, Kilkenny. I was happy with how it went but undoubtedly an absolute bag of angsty nerves. It was a weird process in terms of the writing and development of the play but in the end, the crowd seemed to enjoy it so I guess that’s what counts. I didn’t blog as heavy on this one as I did on Trainspotting (Possibly because I was up to my eyeballs). But anyways, here are my before and after blogs from the week of the show, along with some choice pictures from the production.
BEFORE: Smitten – A Play From Kilkenny
It’s a little bit weird being at this stage of any kind of creative endeavour. The stage where you’ve really worked so long on something and it’s just about to be presented to people and you’re not really sure if its ready or indeed, if it’s much cop. Well, I’m at that stage now with Smitten. I could probably spend years working on it and we would probably love another few weeks of rehearsals but that’s always the way and really, beside the point. It’s opening this week and it’s going to be seen and I hope people like it and it’s all very much out of my hands.
Smitten is a story (or stories) that I’ve had, quite aimlessly, in my head for years and years. Initially, I just wanted to set something specifically in Kilkenny. It’s my hometown and I’ve lived with the place for so long that I just had this desire to put something to paper about the place because I’d love to read stuff set in Kilkenny myself. So, I had all these little stories and they were all random, often interlinked but mostly self contained. And they were all set in Kilkenny. Odd stuff like a story about a lovelorn waitress who had a heart she couldn’t keep in her chest and used to have to chase it all around the place. Or this character who used to turn to ice at the most awkward moments and break into tiny pieces. And there was a guy who could literally read peoples faces and a comedy story set at a funeral and there was a really awkward drug deal that went horribly wrong and all these other bits and pieces of assorted story bric-a-brac. And a lot of the stuff that found its way into the play was there too like angels and sock puppets and the grand romantic gestures. And thematically, really, it was all about being in your 20’s and the preoccupations you have at that time of your life. And of course, these were preoccupations that I had myself so I really wanted to express them in a story. I’d heard this phrase ‘Your teens are your body’s puberty but your twenties are your minds’ and it really summed up what I wanted to jot down. At first it was a novel but at this stage I’m a little too undisciplined to write a novel so I began working on this 90 minute screenplay. Not that I thought it would be a particularly good film but rather because I just wanted to get the fucking thing down on paper and try and batter out some sort of shape to it.
Then after Heart Shaped Vinyl (my first play, churned out in a month and thrown onstage before the umbilical cord could be cut) I had a bit more confidence about what went into writing a play. There was no pressure on me to write another and there was no particular need for me to do so but Smitten just jumped to mind. I had a fear that I’d have this story about the choices you face in your 20’s and that by the time I got around to executing it in any form I’d suddenly be in my 30’s. And as books and films are infinitely more ambitious ventures, I figured I’d try and adapt Smitten into a play. And that’s what I’ve spent the past year doing.
I tried to mould it into some decent structure and then tried to implement all the various surreal elements I wanted to put into it. In its story and script form I had a disparate selection of dream sequences and dance sequences and singing sequences and heavy doses of magic realism all this other shit I could indulge in because I was just writing for myself, right? But with an audience in mind I felt I had to jettison a lot of the outlandish elements of the stories and really focus on telling a few stories well. So that’s what I’ve tried to do and I hope it works out. It’s been a long process and a tough process and really, I’d love more time with it but yup, out of my hands. I’ve spent countless times annoying the actors and Colm with changes throughout the rehearsal process but I think I could just stay tinkering at something for fucking ages. Even up to the first week of our rehearsal period there was one story about this suicidal girl who hovered above the Canal Walk and I really liked elements of it but it was an awkward fit so I cut it. I think the reason I liked it was because it wasn’t intertwined into the story of a relationship. I guess that’s the one thing I don’t like about Smitten, that it’s too couple heavy. So instead of being about an assortment of 20 something’s, it becomes about an assortment of 20 something couples. But those couple stories do seem to commentate on choices you have to make in your 20’s so yeah, all the lovey dovey stuff might just have a point.
Despite constant nervousness and worry, I’ve really enjoyed the rehearsal period on this one and after our initial casting difficulties, it’s been really fun. It really is an awesome cast, they’re fucking brilliant, every one of them. Toppers they are. The words really flow out like rain onto a Kilkenny street and they make it sound a lot better than I could have hoped for. Our committee and crew have really worked hard on this one. Initially, after how well Trainspotting went we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to muster the energy for another play and that we’d end up fucking up our momentum by burning ourselves out. Well, if burn out is in the post, it hasn’t arrived yet. I think it’s that nervousness about topping Trainspotting and also having to live up to the plaudits we got for it that’s made us up our A game considerably. So myself, Niamh, Ken, Kevin, Ross, Paddy and Colm have spent ample time sitting in The Field drinking stupid amounts of tea and deliberating over every minute detail of this production. I’m very proud of the work we do and if this play bombs and goes up in a big heap of smoke, I’m happy choking on it in the knowledge that we’ve tried our best.
Also, we wouldn’t have been able to do this play without Barnstorm Theatre Company’s assistance. They’ve supported it all the way and given us their time, space and professionalism, all for the love of local theatre. And for that, they must be commended. We’d be at nothing without support and with them we’ve had it in bucket loads. If you haven’t had the pleasure of being in The Barn before, oh you wait and see. Plus Eddie has some killer set design plans in place. It’s going to be something else. And David Sheenan, aka Supernova Scotia, has contributed a fucking awesome score for the play which makes it seem really unique. So yeah, it’s gonna look and sound great at least!
I also have to state that Colm Sheenan, our director, has been fantastic. He’s really busted his ass on the play and has never given up on it. He’s always brimful of direction, suggestions and chair movements. And he’s always good enough to step back when the actors want to try something out or when I invariably fret and worry about a scene and keep thinking of changing stuff. I really hope the finished product does his work justice.
And it’s that finished work that goes onstage this Wednesday. Is it finished? Well, for now it is. But I always think I might go back to that book or that film script again. And for no other reason in my mind than there’s a lot of stories in Kilkenny and they’re well worth telling. It’s a hell of a place. Despite all the rain.
Smitten opens August 20th in The Barn, Church Lane, Kilkenny. It runs until Saturday August 23rd and tickets are 10EURO in Rollercoaster Records, Kieran Street.
AFTER: Struck As With Harsh Blow – Smitten Closes
After a 4 night sell out run we’re all a little shell shocked. Struck as with hard blow for absolute sure. We weren’t expecting the demand for our production of Smitten to be as it was. But it certainly was. The entire run had been pretty much booked out by Thursday afternoon. Any remaining awry comps were contested and SOLD OUT signs (as below) were quickly drawn up by a big red marker. All the while we stood by quite amazed. This show was a bit of a leap of faith for us. We termed it an experiment certainly. For a fledgling company to do a brand new untested play 6 weeks after a massive large scale production in a space that most people hadn’t heard of or struggled to find with a severely depleted roster of actors and resources was an ask. But it was worth every second. I was so proud of everyones hard work and what was achieved. The fact that 4 nights of a sell out produced consistent laughs and smiling faces was enough for me. Relief too! I could see where the play worked and where it didn’t but with an audience it breathed, and I’m glad it came to life. It went a bit too long and a few tech glitches hiccuped us but mostly it was a production that showed the hard slog that had been put into it. With all my initial worries and nerves calmed, I’ll now happily go back to the lab and tinker away.
So, solid props to the director Colm Sheenan for his tireless work on the project. To our awesome set, prop and lighting designers Eddie Brennan, Thom Dowling and Gerry Taylor. To everyone at Barnstorm Theatre Company for letting us into their home and stealing their milk for the week. To the hard grafting committee of Devious Theatre, Ken, Paddy, Niamh, Ross and Kev.
And finally to the amazing cast who really gave it socks and gave the audiences some fine performances. They were a joy in every single way and to revive the show just to work with them again would be worth it alone. They were Stephen Colfer, Ross Costigan, Amy Dunne, Ken McGuire, Kevin Mooney, Lynsey Moran, Niamh Moroney, Maria Murray, Suzanne O’Brien, Jack O’Leary, Annette O’Shea and Geoff Warner Clayton.And that’s that. Us Devious bods must rest ourselves before the next production begins. Until October…
Well, it’s really more of a 3 down and 3 to go type scenario but hey, it’s an accomplishment nonetheless…and I’m tired so I’ll take what I can get.
Vultures Episode 3 wrapped today after a very early start (I was awake and eating Bran Flakes at 4am) so we all finished with a nice sleep in Alan’s car and now I feel a bit fresher since Jim Vultour’s hair, beard and manky smoky smell have been removed from me.
This was definitely the most pleasurable episode of Vultures to shoot so far. I think everyone’s enthusiasm, comfort and talent really hit a peak on this one and I’m hopeful it’s going to show. 3 episodes in and things are just gelling better and everybody’s got a better idea of what the project is about and what it’s needs are. This has certainly been an easier shoot for myself and Alan anyway because of the extended crew who chipped in. So major props to Ross, Laurent and Colm for giving themeselves over to Vultures. Myself and Alan were able to focus on other areas a lot more (less waving our arses in front of carlights to achieve that squad car look this time) and no doubt the show is going to be better because of it.
I also have to give a massive thanks to the cast who continue to bowl me over with their enthusiasm, passion for the project and willingness to have stupid haircuts, weird beards and get up at ridiculous hours. And on this one they have been Sean Hackett, David Thompson, Ross Costigan, Gus McDonagh, Peter McGann, John Doran, Liadain Kaminska, Stephen Colfer, Paul Young, Niamh Moroney, Eddie Brennan, Tommy Ruane and that old granny who walked by during the opening scene. You bring tears to a brother’s eyes.
So it’s off to the editing laboratory with myself Alan and Paddy for the next few weeks and we hope to emerge by the end of October with a tight little story called ‘The Mystery Of The Night Time Refuse.’
We’ll also be making an announcement in regards to Episode 4 in the next couple of weeks so expect something interesting. Well, a title anyway. It might be of interest.
All photos are taken by Ross Costigan. He’s got big hair and a big camera and a big website called www.oss237.com
Start Magazine, the Arts magazine for the South East did some nice coverage of Devious Theatre and Mycrofilms in their Autumn issue. First up is an interview with Paddy Dunne, co- writer of Vukltures on the gestation of the sitcom and our intentions. And secondly is a published review of Devious Theatre’s recent production of Trainspotting. It’s a real pretty looking magazine.
INTERVIEW WITH PADDY DUNNE
It seems that more and more of the general public are rejecting television for its lack of interesting and creative programming, and are turning on to the World Wide Web. There are specific websites that are able to cater to people in society that do not wish to be versed in Fair City or Coronation Street. Folks looking for intelligent and dexterous entertainment seem to get there fill from the internet, and this is where the clever work of three Kilkenny locals exhibit their talents, with the web-based sitcom ‘Vultures’.
‘Vultures’ is the flagship programme for Mycrofilms, a production and editing company focused on creating new short films, music videos, animation and features.
Conceived by John Morton and Alan Slattery the company launched in late 2006, and it was soon after in that same year that Morton and friend Paddy Dunne planted the seed for ‘Vultures’, which they spent the next nine months exploring, scrutinizing and story boarding. The filming for the first of six episodes ‘The Kris Kringle Konundrum’, eventually began in Winter 2007.
Collectively written and directed by Dunne and Morton, the series tells the tale of three private detectives who run a minor league private investigation agency in small town Ireland. The moderately successful business is called Vulture Private Investigations and specialises in dealing with small-scale cases like missing pets. The pair work well together. Sharing the duties of directing and writing may cause tensions, however it seems like the Coen brothers it benefits Paddy and John rather than hinder; “because we’re good friends, we are on the same wave length and able to bounce ideas off each other; we share the same vision” ‘Columbo’, ‘Tin Tin’, and ‘Sherlock Holmes’ are among the many fictional detectives that Morton and Dunne drew inspiration from when creating the characters; each persona has distinct qualities that make for fascinating and compulsive entertainment.
The detail in which the pair has gone to in shaping these characters is supported by the acting talents of those involved. Instantly noted upon viewing the two filmed episodes is the standard to which this project is produced. Everything from the script, costume, location and acting is a surprising calibre. Give the small budget. The first episode was produced on the rigorous quota of four hundred euro. It is with a grant from the Kilkenny Arts Office that the team is now able to invest in a bigger scale with the filming of the upcoming episodes.
The chosen medium of internet exposure seemed to be fitting to the direction in which the team behind ‘Vultures’ wishes to pursue; “The web gives us an instant audience while it also showcases our work to prospective investors or television producers.” It would seem that ‘Vultures’ is aiming for a larger market and those involved hope to someday gain exposure on national television.
Filming for the third episode began this summer, but Paddy is insistent on having no strict deadline for the online launch; “it’s better to take your time and produce a higher level of work, rather than pushing for something without it being polished. Because sometimes, just sometimes, Irish films don’t need to be about men chasing cows around fields to fiddle music.” With this as a slogan you can see that not only do these gentleman have a sense of humour they also have something to prove to the Irish production world.
The following review was first published in the autumn 2008 edition of Start Magazine, the arts magazine for the South East of Ireland. Written by Ita Morrissey, the review can be found in the magazine available here as a free download.
For folks that are unacquainted with ‘Trainspotting’ performed by Devious Theatre (Watergate, Kilkenny, June), it’s the tale of a dark and dirty Edinburgh told through the lives of five down and out drug riddled friends.
The risky aspect in taking on a production such as ‘Trainspotting’ is the subject matter it confronts; take the infamous toilet scene when Renton retrieves his pills, Alison’s re-enactment of spoiling food when she worked as a waitress and then there is all the business with needles.
It was apparent that this troupe of actors had worked hard to achieve a naturalistic Scottish accent; the dialogue was delivered in a superior manner by many of the cast. Ross Costigan, who played Renton, was able to juggle the accent with volume to a perfect level, but at times Begbie, played by Niall Sheehy, went beyond what could be deciphered. And occasionally the vocal abilities of the one or two of female actors were testing on the audience. That only being a minor note compared to the standard reached by all the others.
The first half ran at a great pace, as Renton was used to marvellous effect guiding the audience along his life of drugs and hard times. Costigan’s skill at portraying this down beaten but lovable character was magnificent; he lived and breathed him.
It was slightly disappointing then, not have the same connection with him in the second half. That being said, there were some beautiful moves throughout the play, especially in two specific scenes where Sick Boy (John Morton) tangoed with Mother Superior (Paul Young) in a junkie frenzy and where Spud reveals his dirty sheets across the breakfast table.
This type of blocking from directors Niamh Moroney and John Morton only contributed to the professional standard of this production.
Here’s a picture of Ross, Niamh and myself looking all happy because people are saying nice things about our play.
We’ve been filming the latest episode of our web sitcom VULTURES, in and around Kilkenny City the past cupla weeks and we’re due to wind it all down this weekend.
All that’s left is the office exterior scenes and we’ve procured a lovely interior at No. 42 Parliament Street, Kilkenny, thank you very much indeed. Kilkenny has many lovely old school building fronts and we’ve long had our beady little detectiving eyes on one of the Parliament Street or Patrick Street ones so we’ve come up trumps, yes siree!
I’m very much looking forward to sitting down in the office with Mr. Alan Slattery and getting stuck into the edit of Episode 3. We’re quietly confident that every episode is getting better and better so we’re hoping this one is going to make the first 2 real embarrassed and start crying.
www.vulturespi.com has been extensively updated so please do check it out for all the episodes and trailers and assorted bits and pieces from so far in the project.
One of my favourite things every episode is introducing new characters. We try and make them as heightened and stylised as is possible. It really helps to expand the world of the show and we’re confident that we’ve got 2 cracking new characters that people are going to love. Please meet them:
McLoughlin is a hen night loving rogue. He spends all his money on fat frogs and middle aged women. He’s also supposed to be V.P.I’s lawyer. Check out his character profile and more pics at http://www.vulturespi.com/Episode_3.html
VULTURES EPISODE 3: ‘The Mystery Of The Night Time Refuse’ is scheduled to premiere online in October. Keep a private eye on www.vulturespi.com.
All photos here were taking by a delightful fellow called Ross Costigan. Check out his website at www.oss237.com
This summer just gone, I was one of the director’s of Devious Theatre’s version of Irvine Welsh’s seminal Trainspotting. The opportunity to work on this project was something I absolutely devoured. I’ve long loved the book, the film, the play and Edinburgh is a class wee city.
Here’s a selection of my infrequent Trainspotting blogs that were originally posted on www.devioustheatre.com and up on my own myspace.
BOARDING: Trainspotting – Week One Rehearsals
3 May 08
After a week of pretty intensive rehearsals I thought it might be a good idea to let everyone know how we’re getting on with our production of ‘the Scottish Play.’
Ehhh…. The other one.
First off, the accents are a total bastard but hey, we’ve prepared and we’ve got time. The actors have been giving it socks or ‘soacks’ as Begbie might say. The most problematic word so far has been ‘no’ as in ‘not’ which constantly translates as ‘nu’ as opposed to ‘no’. Ehhh… ay, it’s a right tricky bugger. It’s a long journey from here still but I’m confident we’ll arrive in style come late June. As everyone’s favourite glass chucking psycho would say “A sprinter’ll nivir fuckin last the pace wi a distance man.”
The cast that we assembled for the play have justified all of our faith in them. Utter A game, pure and utter A game off them all round. The rehearsals have been pretty intensive so far. We’ve been really knuckling into the monologues and battering out a shape and structure to them. They’re long, they’re tough and they’re very Scottish but the level of writing is just so amazing that really, it’s a pleasure to work with such epic language. And I don’t just mean the swearing.
After developing this play for so long it’s so good to see it coming to life with our versions of Spud, Begbie, Renton and Alison starting to spring from the spitting, straining sinews of our dedicated acting force.
So all in all, after week one of rehearsal, progress has been made with an awful lot more to make.
All the other aspects of the production have been kicking into gear as well.
–Tommy has been figuring how to get all the props onto one carpet. Yup.
–Eddie is worryingly confident about pulling off the set. ‘No bothers’ he says.
–Myself and Niamh have been arguing the merits of shopping trolley V cot.
–We’ve also been furiously whittling down our potential soundtrack for the show. One thing’s for sure, it won’t feature Underworld.
–Paddy has been scribbling at the concept art. One thing’s for sure, it won’t feature the colour orange.
–Ken has been plugging, promoting and name dropping like a man possessed.
–Kate has started a crusade to find as many manky denim shirts as she can.
–And our pursuit of a permanent rehearsal space has just bared fruit. Boy, is Kilkenny busy with amateur dramatics these next few months.
–And all of us are frantically trying to get into some sort of character shape for the upcoming poster and promo shoot. There’s some magic being lined up with these, so do stay posted. What isn’t magic however, is the gunk that Pip spent most of yesterday sitting in. It probably smelled worse than arse explosion. Here’s a look at Paddy’s process for the first revealed poster, Danny ‘Spud’ Murphy. It also gives a good indication of how much shit Pip went through. Literally… well, brown sauce and salsa.
In other news, tickets have in fact started booking for the show already and you can procure yours with the friendly staff at the Watergate Theatre on this number: (056) 7761674.
Due to the fear of mastering Scottish accents, authentically depicting junkiedom and doing Irvine Welsh’s masterful text some justice, we’ve being giving rehearsals the entire sock drawer the past few weeks.
We’re nearly at the stage where the entire play is blocked, the scenes are looking in pretty decent shape. We’re lucky to have such a good piece of core material that gives the actors so much to chow down on. Harry Gibson’s adaptation has put a lot of lovely theatrical devices into play and we’ve really relished the character’s asides, narrative monologues, multiple playing, abstract scenarios and musical sequences. Yup… I said it… musical sequences.
We had our first rehearsals last week with the drug paraphernalia and it was pretty intense to be honest. Everybody was a little bit freaked out by the sight of the needles and syringes. Horrible, sharp fuckers. We had ourselves some cooking lessons, so to speak, just to get the hang of preparing heroin. It’s gonna need a lot of practice but we’ll get there. We want to be very responsible with this production and we don’t want to give any false impressions of heroin addiction or the use of the drug so we’re trying to be as authentic as we possibly can be with the portrayal of drug use. Of course, we drew the line at preparing with real heroin….we just used gravy. Suffice to say, it smelt manky. Don’t ever try and heat gravy up with a spoon and lighter.
As some of you may have seen, Paddy Dunne’s wizardry on the design front has so far produced 4 amazing character posters with another 5 in the works. Not to mention a main, all encompassing poster and the teaser poster of our take on the iconic Trainspotting skull motif. So yeah, Paddy’s been a busy man and I’m sure he’ll be offering some words of wisdom on his creative process in the coming weeks… when he finally gets to drag himself away from Photoshop of course. All in all, 11 posters for a 5 night run of a play might be seen as being too much but fuck it, it costs us nothing but our time and imagination… and a little blutac. We get very excited by this whole theatre lark and we’d like to get other people excited about it too, likesay, ken?
The costumes are looking lovely too. Well, as lovely as drab costumes for a bunch of junkies, thieves and psychopaths in 1980’s Edinburgh can look. Most of the bits and pieces have been put into place and the look of the characters is taking shape. We’ve gone back to the book for ideas on how the characters look, rather than fall into the trap of emulating some of the film’s designs. You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who were quite taken aback by the fact that Ross is not sporting the Ewan McGregor shaved head look. Instead, we’ve gone with Mark Renton as he is in the book, a pasty faced unhygienic ginger sort. And as you can see from the Renton character poster he’s sporting a ginger do that’s reminiscent of Bowie during his Berlin era.
We’ve had a lot of design meetings these past few weeks and the set is also coming together pretty well. Eddie Brennan, our set designer, has been drawing up his plans and stock piling material and it’s going to be a lovely ramshackle mess methinks. Check out our ‘Trainspotting Design’ album to see a couple of ideas and visual pointers for the look of our production. It ain’t gonna be pretty that’s for sure.
We’ve also just embarked on our PR blitz and we’re trying to get the play out there as much as we humanely can. So, pass the word around!
The tickets are booking for the play so if you wanna ensure seats 056 – 7761674 is the number to ring. We’re 3 weeks off the play at this stage which is absolutely mind boggling. I’m gonna go now and be a little terrified.
Co – Director
DUE TO ARRIVE: Rehearsals Week 8
So we’re nearly there, a week off our arrival in the Watergate Theatre. Fucking hell, it’s been a quick two months.
All the posters have been completed. All 10 of the bastards. A serious amount of props and kudos must go out to our own Paddy Dunne for the serious hard work and graft he’s put into the poster designs for Trainspotting. I’d go out on a limb and say, not only are they wonderfully representative of the characters who populate Irvine Welsh’s work and create a perfect sense of the world they inhabit but they’ve done a great job of not stepping on the toes of the film incarnations. A hell of an achievement all round Paddy, and it was a pleasure to work on them with you.
Months ago, myself, Paddy and Niamh busted our asses as we entered pre-production on establishing the style of this play, its colour scheme and the general design scheme. Months on from that, we’re happy with how it’s worked out. I think it’s going to be quite a unique interpretation and hopefully in line with what Harry Gibson wanted to achieve with a stage version of Trainspotting. Part of our approach was trying to move away from the film but another part of it is trying to establish a truly unique theatrical experience and I’m confident we’re going to achieve that.
Rehearsal wise, we’ve finished all our blocking and now the actors are polishing their performances and generally tightening up their scenes. They’re a great bunch, and I can genuinely say, the best bunch of actors I’ve ever worked with on any production. Ever. Full stop. And that includes any other amateur, college or professional shows. And if I may sound not too professional about it, I can’t wait for the few post show drinks with this lot.
When you’re dealing with subject matter as dark and intense as that in Trainspotting, it really helps to be with a bunch of people who can keep things light hearted and they really are a funny bunch of fuckers…. Yup, top cunts all round.
Speaking of which, we should really have brought a swear jar into rehearsals. Everybody has grown sailor’s mouths since we started the production and it’s a bit scary how desensitized we’ve become to really hardcore swearing. Between our foul mouths and our suitably degenerated costumes we should form quite a scary proposition for people post show every night. And of course, our poor families.
In many ways, I think everything is gonna seem a little tasteless after Trainspotting, it’s been a hell of a ride for all of us at Devious. Much better than Kilkenny to Athy, that’s for sure.
Of course, as Mark Renton advocates, the importance of preparation is key and we’ve been frantically scurrying about trying to get everything in shape. Myself, Paddy, Niamh, Kev and Ken have been trying to make sure that boats haven’t been missed on the program or PR front and it seems to be quite smoothly building word of mouth.
All boats have been caught but forget boats from now on, trains all the way!
But hopefully that will show how ingrained this show has become into our waking hours! And I think our living, breathing and walking of Irvine Welsh’s work will show up onstage. But there’s a week to go, lots more needs to be done. We haven’t quite arrived yet but we’re due to…
Tickets for Trainspotting are still booking at The Watergate Theatre, the number is (056) 7761674 and the dates are June 24th – 28th. I hope to see you there.
P.S. As a recommendation, for anyone who hasn’t read it, Irvine Welsh’s PORNO, the sequel to TRAINSPOTTING, is a fantastic read.
Myself and Paddy have been knuckling into it the past few weeks and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This is my second read of it and it’s still so fresh and well written. I just hope they make it into a movie… fuck Ewan McGregor.
ARRIVAL – Trainspotting Production Week
So we’ve arrived. The past few days have seen a flurry of activity as the Devious crew have worked at break neck pace to get everything into gear. We arrived into the Watergate Theatre early on Sunday morning and it’s been all go, go, go since then. I’ve loved every single fucking minute of it, the excitement leading up to opening night is my favourite part of a production and this one has been fantastic. Everybody basically moves into the theatre for the week and it’s like one big messy happy family… of junkies and the like.
Right now, unfinished as it is, the set is looking absolutely wonderful…. Well, wonderful in its manky, derelict style. Eddie, Colm, Tommy, Murt, Liadain and all the other troopers for the cause have really busted their asses getting it into shape and it’s looking great. It still needs a few touch ups today but it should be all ready to go for tonight.
The costumes are looking brilliant, especially under Gerry Taylor’s fantastic lights. God bless red brick wallpaper too… what a time saver! Both myself and Ross now have shite manky dyed hair, thanks to Aileen’s wonderful dye expertise. We now affectionately refer to each other as ‘red heided cunt’ and ‘blue heided cunt’. There will be staring.
The fridge is stacked with Red Bull and to a lesser extent, Red Rooster but at 1.79 a bottle, who’s to discriminate? Fresh drug paraphernalia has been procured…still horrible sharp fuckers. Actors are giddy with excitement…and Red Bull. The music sounds great blasting out around the theatre. We can’t find a cot so we’re using a trolley… for now. After the tech and dress rehearsals we’ve all been so excited, exhausted, energised and depleted to a crazy level. We need, we need, we need! The kettle has consistently been on the boil. The Thomas the Tank Engine theme tune plays incessantly in our heads. Scottish accents have been on the go and boy, are we freaking out people who don’t know us. Ross actually cannot go back to his normal accent. Plus we look odd anyway. We’re all excited, prepared, anxious and ready but most of all, after all the months of blood, sweat and tea… we’ve arrived.
And I hope you enjoy our stay as much as we will.
Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting starts tonight and runs until Saturday 28th of June. Tickets can be booked in the Watergate Theatre and at their box office on 056 – 7761674. Tickets are 12EURO and the show begins at 8pm nightly.
Theatre: it beats any meat injection, it beats any fucking cock in the world. Wait… hold on… eh… ah, fuck it. It does.