September 8, 2008 • Uncategorized

The Trainspotting Blogs

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.

Keep an eye on www.devioustheatre.com for all details too.

Until later wee gadges,


CHOO CHOO: Trainspotting – Rehearsals Week 5

Well, it’s nearly due to arrive.

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.

Choose tea.

John Morton

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.

John Morton



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.

John Morton

Co – Director


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