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June 14, 2011 • Uncategorized

Smitten Hits Cork

It’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks as we at Devious Theatre prep the new production of my play Smitten.

One of the most exciting aspects of this restaging of the show is that we’re going to be debuting it down in Cork during Solstice as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival. It opens this Thursday at 6pm on the 3rd Floor of the Old FÁS Building on Sullivan Quay.  I’m really excited about taking the show down to Cork for the following reasons:

1. Devious Theatre have never been in Cork.

2. Solstice has an amazing line up and we can’t wait to dive into it.

3. We love Cork. It has great pubs and places to eat and looks really nice in the sunshine.

So yeah, that pretty much sums it up. It all makes up for the fact that my current hair and beard combo for the play makes me look like Cormac Battle/Chino from Deftones/Elijah Wood/Timmy Mallett or a ‘bad Slovakian death metaller’. Yeah, makes sense.

We’re calling this version of Smitten ‘a play that wants to be a musical’ but otherwise we’ve termed it ‘a romantic comedy about rain, recession and why dance sequences are harder in real life’. It’s a lot different than the 2008 version of the play but if it’s comedy/theatrics/musical interludes and profanity you’re into, then this should tickle some of your fancies.

You can find all details on the play over on the Devious Theatre website. I’ll also be writing a lot more about the play in the coming weeks as we approach the Kilkenny opening on June 26th.

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June 2, 2011 • Uncategorized

Daffney Molloy And Other Catastrophes

This is a story I’d written based on Smitten, a play. I guess it was a way to flesh out the play back in 2007 but it took on a bit of a life of it’s own as a story. I performed it during a reading called Beaver Fever back in Toronto in 2010. Here it is in it’s spoiler edited form.

Who is she?

Tommy had no idea who this girl was. But apparently all his friends did. Local talent, right?

Sitting in Ryan’s, men be telling tales, tales of near misses and catches that got away:

Apparently one time Skeet Keating actually walked up to her in the Market Cross shopping centre and just asked her out. She was 16 at the time with dark hair tied in pigtails and baggy Hobo jeans and she had her nose pierced but that’s not what matters. What matters is that little Skeet plucked up the courage to ask out Daffney Molloy. And she just looked at him with those piercing blue eyes and asked him why on earth would he want to go out with her and could he give her 3 good reasons why he was asking her out. And he coughed and he spluttered and he couldn’t think of anything. And with a little smile and a wink, she just left him standing there, like a muppet. And as she left he wished that he could get accustomed to that face.

Motion. Slow motion. That’s how she moves. Kevin can remember the time he came home from college and went straight into Dunnes Stores to buy deodorant for his sweaty Bus Eireann afflicted armpits and he saw her shopping with her mother. He saw her move through the fruit and veg section with a grace he’d never seen before in a girl, like she was floating or something. It called to mind what a wise man had a once said, that the motion of the world rested on a woman’s hips. How true he contemplated this as he watched this beautiful creature who had messy brown hair with blonde streaks spread through it and who wore a bright yellow and green sweater. He watched her holding that head of lettuce, and he swore she swayed its little green trestles into her mother’s trolley with the daintiest of moves. That’s how she travels. With the motion of the world in her body.

Well, that’s how she moved the time Dave saw her one winter’s night in Cleeres pub. He was drunk as usual so he stared all the more. It was rare enough to see her out socialising but she just waltzed through the place without a care in the world as if she’d been out for years. Maybe she was looking for someone, a lucky fella, but maybe, just maybe, she was waltzing for waltzing’s sake. Maybe she just liked to waltz alone? She had long straight red hair and big glasses and a chunky sweater and tattered jeans that hung nicely on her hips or so Dave thought. Before he could even get his bearings, she had waltzed away on her own. And a Greek chorus of male eyes went back to their pints, or even worse, their girlfriend’s refrains of ‘What the fuck?’ And even though he kept an eye out for the rest of the night, Dave never saw her or indeed, any waltzing girls. The rest of them just didn’t waltz. Dave went back to the seat at which his girlfriend Bronagh waited for him. He put down her vodka and coke and laid his own pint on a beer mat. Perching himself on the stool, he realised how distracted he was. Bronagh had her eyes fixed on his. Before he could even feign alertness she said it to him with a wry grin: ‘If there’s one thing I know, it’s when a man has just seen Daffney Molloy.’ He mumbled an answer, shuffled uncomfortably on his seat and then started bitching about the length of the queue at the bar.

The funniest thing Tommy thought, was the music. These boys didn’t know musicals well but everything they said harkened to a musical. It all started with the song. They all said the same thing about the song. As if she herself gave them some form of synaesthesia. There was a song that’d play, when you’d clap eyes on her and that’s how you’d know who she was. Not because of some physical description, oh no. But a song. It was close to you. It appeared every time she were near. And just like she, that song would be close to you. It mightn’t always be the Carpenters version, it might even be the Dusty Springfield version, but it would play in your head and as she disappeared, it would fade down. Apparently, she herself was like a walking musical, or so they said. Suspension of disbelief was necessary when she was around for how else could a man qualify all the song and dance and jigging and dancing he’d do when she appeared. Because even if you’re not Gene Kelly, she’ll make you feel like you are.

Tommy was enthralled, interested, why even, alive! Yes, he felt alive! But the question still remained… who the hell is she?

And at the exact same time Tommy sat at that party, a girl stood at the centre of town, on the Parade, in the lashings of rain, sheltering herself in the entrance way of the Left Bank bar. She was staring out at that pissing rainy night with a smile on her face. People were running for cover into pubs, doorways, taxis, anywhere they could to protect their sodden bodies from the thumping power of the rain. Cackling hen nights getting their devil horns soaked and checked shirts getting drenched and dolly girls having their well kept hair doused. Everybody wants to be dry. And why oh why would they want to be dry, thinks this girl.

And with that, she jumps down off the steps, pulls her umbrella up and swings it everywhere but over her wee head. She starts humming and doobie doing to herself as she puts her hand out to feel the rain drops. People look very confused at the sight of a pretty young girl, dancing happily through the lashing rain, as they cursed it and shouted the swears of the world at it.

With a kick, she sends the umbrella into the air, it spins for an age before landing right back in her mitts. And with that, she launches herself onto the road and spins her brolley as if she were a one woman merry go round. Cars beep and honk at her but she’s not doing any harm is she? Oh no, it’s only dancing, isn’t it? She balances precariously on the footpath outside Goods shop and kicks all the puddles up into the air. Up they go! Splish splash splish! Kick, kick, stamp, stamp in the puddles and she’s soaked through and through and doesn’t care, not a jot. She’s happy to be home and with all the sadness and sickness and depression and rain everywhere, isn’t it so much better to be dancing?

A guard stops in front of her, a big thick necked country bullock and he folds his arms crossly, with nothing but tut tut written on his face. The girl stops her splishing and splashing and looks apologetically at him. Those big baleful eyes that could be any colour just stop him dead and a song begins to play in his head and he stands there, smitten. She shrugs her shoulders and turns and hands her umbrella to a passing elderly man, who takes it bemused. And with that, she saunters off towards the Town Hall, as if she were the spawn of both Rodgers and Hammerstein themselves, were they able to procreate with each other of course.

And who is she?

No one knows.

Daffney Molloy will possibly appear in Smitten when it opens in Cork on June 16th and plays Kilkenny from June 26th – July 2nd.

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May 31, 2011 • Uncategorized

The Revolution Has Been Youtubed

Over at Devious Theatre (where I’ve been spending most of my days this year) we just released a video peek at our first show of 2011 Scratcher.

Scratcher was the first part of our current In The Future When All’s Well season in Kilkenny Arts Office. I wrote it in 2010 when I wanted to do something short, sharp and angry and I ended up being very happy with the end result. It played Dublin and Kilkenny in February around the same time as the national elections so it ended up landing right at the perfect time to stage a play based on change and revolution. We were very lucky that it ended up playing at a time when people were just sick to death of bullshit really.

The video here mostly demonstrates our front of house set up which was done to mirror a dole office in a very heightened way and generally make our audience feel fairly uncomfortable. If you didn’t attend the play have a look see and if you did, maybe you can find yourself shuffling your feet and trying to get through the queue very quickly?

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April 28, 2011 • Uncategorized

Finishing Shifting

Shifting took it’s final bow on Saturday night to it’s sixth standing ovation and sixth consecutive sold out show.

Suffice to say, it was one of the most successful shows in the 5 year history of Devious Theatre. All the more remarkable considering it had a completely new (and youthful) cast, a debut script from a brand new writer and no name value bar any name value the company might have.

We definitely don’t take for granted that our shows will turn into red hot sell outs so we always push the promo material really hard. All the more so when you’ve got a new show to sell. We pushed it hard in terms of promo videos, posters, radio vignettes and promo images. I guess we always underestimated (as we do), the appeal of new work. Especially when we work in a town where the familiar staple is king, be it pantomime, John B.Keane or musical. However, this was the first time where we saw that our focus on new work is enough in itself. That maybe we didn’t need to push new work extra hard. We just needed to do it. And we just needed to do it because people wanted to see original work. And there’s always going to be a hunger for it.

The cast were excellent. Excellent to work with, consistent in their delivery, a joy to direct and everything you want in actors: committed, dedicated, reliable and inventive. I know I’m in danger of gush overload but they absolutely made the play and we were so proud to have them as part of our company. The cast are going to go far I think and we’ll definitely be using them again. The same goes for the teenage members of our crew who were all committed, dedicated and on the ball. I must give special praise to Eleanor Walsh, our assistant director who diligently wrote everything down and never missed one single rehearsal.

I worked with John Kennedy for the past 5 months on the script. It wasn’t the ideal amount of time for him. It wasn’t the ideal amount of time for us. It’s just how it worked out. We knew what we wanted. He knew what he wanted to write. He was delighted to be able to write plenty of ‘fuck’s’ and ‘cocks’ and have no one censor him. We found a middle ground, gave John all the resources and support that he needed and at the beginning of March he delivered a script. His very first completed play. Shifting was everything we wanted it to be and in the end it was everything a teen audience wanted. As we saw when they came rushing in to buy the opening night €5 tickets. Cheapskates. But yeah, teenagers get ‘pandered’ to or generally condescended but they rarely get spoken to, honestly and directly, in theatre. That was our main objective. And that was why we wanted a teenage writer to do that. Anything else would just be extrapolation.

The reviews have been sweet so far. You can read some of them here and also, here. It was possibly my most favourite play I’ve worked on. I’ve had an overwhelming sense of pride and joy (along with festering regret and hole poking) in everything we’ve done with Devious Theatre. But this one might have been the best. Maybe because it was the best. But maybe, because above everything, it was all about the future.

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The Shifting Posters

I’m currently directing, Shifting, the second part of Devious Theatre’s ‘In The Future When All’s Well’ series. The play is written by John Kennedy who has been working on it since the end of last year and throughout the first 3 months of our residency in Kilkenny Arts Office. It’s a funny, charming and bittersweet look at the inevitable intersection between your teenage years and adulthood. In fact, in terms of previous Devious Theatre plays I like to call this one our John Hughes. That’s kicking the hypometer up to a high point but fuck it, no harm in aiming high.

We’ve just released 3 individual character posters for Shifting as designed by Paddy Dunne, the magician behind all of our promo imagery. It’s basically 12 teenagers on a couch. What’s not to love?

Shifting plays in No. 76 John Street from April 18th – 23rd. Tickets are onsale in No. 76, online at DeviousTheatre.com or can be booked on 056 – 7794138. If anyone’s looking for discounts, the opening night is only €5!

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March 20, 2011 • Uncategorized

Wild Harvest

This week I’m going to be using my acting in Wild Harvest by Ken Bourke.

The play was first produced in 1989 by Druid and now 20 years later its themes of emigration, unemployment and helplessness are very apt all over again. The play is being staged by Watergate Productions who are pretty much the theatrical establishment of Kilkenny and it’s a real honour to be asked to take part in one of their productions. That’s another one ticked off the list for me.

The play is directed by Ger Cody who has also retained the plays 1980’s setting. So yeah, we are up to our balls in denim.

It plays in the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from March 22nd – 26th at 8pm. Tickets can be booked 056 – 7761674. The above photo is taken by Ross Costigan.

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February 21, 2011 • Uncategorized

Who’ll Be The Next In Line?

Scratcher is the new play by Devious Theatre and it opens this Tuesday night in Kilkenny.

I’ve been working on it for nearly a year at this stage so it’s been great to see it come together as part of our ‘In The Future When All’s Well’ residency. The play is set in a dole office as it becomes the scene of a burgeoning revolution that threatens to overrun Ireland. So, considering the worldwide revolution in many countries and the general election this week, the play has ended up being rather apt all of a shot.

We opened on Thursday of last week during The Theatre Machine Turns You On: Vol II at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin. The show sold out and people clapped and everything. It was great for us to get such a reaction and we’re definitely confident of the Kilkenny show.

Scratcher runs from February 22nd – 26th nightly at No. 76 John Street, Kilkenny. All info and tickets can be found on www.devioustheatre.com

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February 9, 2011 • Uncategorized

Scratcher Promo

We’ve just unveiled the Dublin promo for the newest Devious Theatre show Scratcher.

It’s the third play I’ve written for Devious Theatre and I’m beside myself with delight that it opens in Dublin during The Theatre Machine Turns You On: Vol II which is a white hot festival run by the talented peeps over THEATREclub way.

The show itself is a completely unrealistic fantasy of what would happen if Irish people were going to stand up for themselves and say ‘No more!’

So yeah, it’s a farce. It plays the Project Arts Centre on February 17th and you can grab tickets here.

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January 16, 2011 • Uncategorized

Winter

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December 30, 2010 • Uncategorized

In 2011 When All’s Well

Technically speaking, 2011 is the future. Even though it’s in a couple of days. My plan for this futuristic time is a little project called In The Future When All’s Well.

In my role as general theatrical dogsbody for Devious Theatre, I’ll be working with our usual Devious crew and some exciting vibrant new additions to create a 6 month programme of theatre based entirely in the Kilkenny County Council Arts Office.

Mary Butler, the Kilkenny County Council Arts Officer and a lady of extreme go getting, has long being trying to get us into a building of our own. After a couple of thwarted attempts, she’s decided to use their long standing Artist In Residency programme to bring in an entire theatre company. So we were pretty damn chuffed and have spent the latter half of 2010 putting our brand new season together. The vibrant new additions to our team will function in a way that I imagine the new Ghostbusters movie will play out. With us grizzled veterans training in a group of new Kilkenny ‘Theatrebusters’. Because I’m writing this I can lay claim to being the Venkman, Ken is obviously the Stanz and Paddy is the Spengler. Angela is a sure fire Janine. And I think Eddie is most likely the Zeddmore. We will spend our days standing around planning theatre and sliding down poles in the Arts Office. Here’s what we looked like when we did it in 2007 (Ken took the photo so he’s behind you).

Who Are You Going To Call? Devious Theatre!

I’m not yet in a position to say what the plays are yet but in line with already has been announced, there’s 3 of them. And there will be another one for the radio which Ken is directing and will involve a great big bunch of writers. And there will be lots of other exciting things that will happen I’m sure. The actual announcement of what the plays are will be happening in the next couple of days once the festive season has died down. And they’re all originals. Well, by originals they either haven’t been done before or they haven’t been done before by anyone that isn’t Devious Theatre. My role in the season involves doing a whole bunch of writing, directing and acting which will make my head spin. I am hoping that the Dario Fo Season has put me in fairly decent shape for directing 3 plays in 6 months, but it’ll be a hell of a theatralathon (that’s my new word).

And why the title? Well, the 3 main plays are dealing with the theme of the future. Specifically relating to a bunch of disillusioned Irish folks in their teens, twenties and thirties. Unless something drastic happens, we won’t be setting the plays in the future with hoverboards and robot dogs (I wish). The title comes from the Morrissey track and it will no doubt be getting an airing (with a bit more from the amazing Mr. Morrissey besides)

We commence work on January 10th and I really can’t wait for it. It’s the biggest project we’ve undertaken in the (near) 5 year history of Devious Theatre and we’re hoping it kicks off our next 5 years with a solid bang. Got to look to the future after all.

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