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25 Nov 2011

King's Fool Productions Officially Launches (archive post)

This post was first published in November 2011, some subsequent editing, which is in italics, has taken place in February 2014.

So we are finally launched. It's been a hectic few months, but on Monday November 21st 2011 we officially launched King's Fool Productions.
A big thank you to all who came, and if you missed it, check out some of the photos by Neil Harrison.

To hold a mirror up to the world

Among the things that we went through was defining our company mission statement - To hold a mirror up to the World. What this means is that we will seek to reflect the real world through a variety of means; realistic dramas that offer a snapshot of life in 21st century Ireland; Satirical comedies, particularly about the law; farcical comedies with elements of physical performance.

We also announced our tour of Sitting Up for Michael in May and June 2012. We have dates set down in [Strule Arts Centre] Omagh on June 1st and [Alley Theatre] Strabane on June 8th, and we are in negotiations with venues in Belfast [Crescent Arts Centre] and throughout the province.

The play, set during an overnight sit up at a wake was previewed by Accidental Theatre in a rehearsed reading where it went down a storm with the crowd. The fantastic cast were directed by Helen Donnelly, who will be taking the reins for the full performance.

Goolie's Human Taxidermy

Our 2013 show will be a farcical comedy, Goolie's Human Taxidermy. Poor Letitia Goolie must come up with a novel way to return to the lifestyle she has become accustomed to. James is currently in the process of writing this, and the company is hoping to preview it at next year's Pick n Mix festival.

Untitled Ariel MacMillan Musical

In 2014, King's Fool will be embarking on it's first musical, about a Page 3 model who gets breast cancer - how will she cope when her world is torn apart. The sensitive, but comedic piece will involve a score from Marty Devine.

7 Nov 2011

King's Fool Productions

King's Fool Productions has been taking up the bulk of my time recently, so these pastures have been left untended recently. Not to worry, when the launch has taken place later this month full service will be resumed.

King's Fool is my new production company, and I have been working away trying to book venues for Sitting Up for Michael, a full professional production which will be touring in Summer 2012.

Head over to the website, designed by Alex McCooke, or Like the Facebook Page for further updates.

Also, don't forget, ...Michael is getting his stage debut in the Ulster Hall on November 16, in a rehearsed reading by Accidental Theatre. The cast is set in place, with a variety of people I've worked with before (Ed Boyd, Chris McCurry, Charmaine McBride) as well as some new faces (Francis Mezza, Victoria Gleason, Chris Grant and Mary Lindsay) and the director is Helen Donnelly, another artist who I haven't had the pleasure of working with yet, but having spoke to her about the play, I'm confident she will do a brilliant job.

26 Sep 2011

King's Fool Productions, Guidelines for a Long and Happy Life/earth2.0,Culture Night, The Portrait Keeper,

My posts have been much more sporadic recently, and I've been unjustifiably grouping several disparate projects into one long post, rather than the individual post they deserve. This has largely been due to the fact that I've so much going on, I haven't had the time to give each project it's due cyberspace. This post is continuing that long and noble tradition, starting with the main vampire of my time recently,
Hatfield ProductionsKing's Fool Productions.

King's Fool Productions is the name of the production company I am starting, dealing initially with theatre, but with plans to expand into moving image, digital media, and perhaps even fashion!

I have gone on the Go For It programme, and as a result, I have been staring at spreadsheets and talking to marketing people for the last fortnight - exactly the kind of things I got into acting to avoid. Luckily, there was disproportionate amount of creative people there, who I'll probably end up doing business with in the foreseeable future.

The next step will be getting the logo done, so I can start doing the website and printing stationary, with the intent of having a launch night in early November. Watch this space!

I have also got involved with Tinderbox Theatre's next show, Guideline for a Long and Happy Life. It is being put on as part of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's, and is being performed in an abandoned warehouse the Old Victor Stationery Warehouse.

The post apocalyptic set is huge, but it sounds like it will be incredible, with audience interaction, horror elements, and poisoned ground, only scalable on stilts. Directed by Michael Duke, from Paul Kennedy's script, the play is sure to imprint itself on anyone who sees it.

As part of the project there is earth2.0 following the lives of other inhabitants of the post apocalyptic world. It is a devised piece featuring the chorus from the main show, and it is being performed in the same venue on Sunday Oct 23rd. The ensemble, lead by Patrick Sanders, with help from the cast of Guidelines..., is incredibly creative, and the show is set to be another masterpiece.

On Friday, Belfast's 3rd annual Culture Night took place, and as part of it, I was reviving my role in the latest Wireless Mystery Theatre. This time I played the announcer, and a variety of other roles with a total cast of 23 set in St James Hill furniture store. The rest of the night was a triumph as well, as this event is growing exponentially and it is a great showcase for Belfast's monumental creativity. Next year Hatfield Productions will be there, and if all goes to plan, will be a already recognised name.

Also this month, I was in the latest of Accidental's Biscuit Tin Readings, The Portrait Keeper, by Roy Endean. This expressive work was Roy's first staging, and he travelled up from Cork to see it. I played Chum, the blind milktoast to Matt Faris' tyrannical Barth. Susan Davey and Jason McLaughlin played the seductive mistress and ambitious painter, while Mary Frances Doherty was directing. It's a testament to Accidental's increasing reputation that they can repeatedly attract talent of this quality to all their projects. I'm playing Hitler in the next reading, William Patterson's Stumpergasse 31, and after that Sitting Up for Michael will be read on November 16.

Oh, and I turned 26.

Update (6 November 2011): Hatfield Productions became King's Fool Productions prior to it's launch.

King's Fool Productions brings Sitting Up for Michael to the Northern Ireland stage (archive post)

This is a portion of a post that first appeared on James' personal blog back in 2012.

King's Fool Productions has finally brought Sitting Up for Michael to the stage. I've been writing ...Michael for the guts of two years now, and to see it finally on it's feet in front of a paying audience is a hugely gratifying experience.

Helen Donnelly resumed directorship after skippering the rehearsed reading that Accidental organised in November 2011.

The cast, including Marianne March, Naomi Rocke, Cathy Brennan-Bradley, Benjamin Gould, Brian Patrick Kennedy and Michael O'Sullivan were sourced from across Ireland and worked exceptionally hard to bring my vision to fruition, and I can't thank them enough.

With a backstage crew of Glenn Hamill (stage manager), Kerrie Milford (props/costumes), Shireen Azarmi (sound/tech) and Sharon Curran (production manager) we couldn't fail to put on a top class production.

The play debuted in The Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, before travelling down to The Strule Arts Centre, Omagh last week and tonight will conclude its tour in The Alley Theatre, Strabane. So far over 300 people have seen the show, so an extended tour in the near future may be on the cards!

23 Aug 2011

Bruiser Graduate Academy

This past week I have been in rehearsals with Bruiser Theatre Company as part of the Bruiser Graduate Academy. The week has been intense but as the show takes shape, it is clear that it's going to be incredible for the showcase on Thursday.

The main aspect of the showcase is an ensemble performance of the farcical satire, "Out of the Flying Pan" by David Campton in the Brian Friel Theatre. Among the fantastic ten-strong cast are Natalie Murphy, Philip Rafferty, Kim Moylan, Roger Dane, Shannon Hegarty, Mary McGurk, Richard Priestly, Paula Guzzanti and Caroline Brennan. I had worked with Caroline in Lunch last year, with Philip in Hope and Roger, briefly, in Incident at Vichy, but it's the first time I've worked with everyone else. The play is being directed by Lisa May with the assistance of Bruiser's Musical Director, Ross Anderson.

Further to the play, the showcase will involve each actor performing a monologue, which we were honing today with Matthew Reeve who travelled from England. He is heavily involved in the audition process with many drama schools, most notably Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, so it was hugely beneficial hearing about the audition process from the other side of the table.

Matthew was one of several visitors from the professional theatre world who were invited to discuss professional theatre with us. Emma McCabe, who is setting up McCabe Artist Management, discussed the process of acquiring an agent. Three actors, Chris Pat Simpson, Doireann McKenna and Cat Barter, came to discuss their various paths into working professionally and the photographer Neil Harrison was brought in to do a head shot session with each of us.

Overall, the academy has been a great insight into the workings of a professional theatre company, and for me personally allowed me to work with some brilliant actors and people, as well as forge new contacts. The showcase will knock the audience flat, so I can't wait to get on!

Update 24 August 2011: Some of the names in the above piece were erroneous, but have been corrected, thanks to the help of Stephen Beggs, who was also on hand to discuss tax issues during the academy.

20 Jul 2011

Performing in the Ulster Hall with Accidental Theatre

Tonight I'll be appearing in the Ulster Hall (Group Room) as a cast member of Robots in Disguise, the first of the Biscuit Tin Readings. Rehearsals have been ongoing since Saturday, with a great cast of Ed Boyd, Emma Little, Kim Moylan and Chris McCurry, and Emily DeDakis reading stage directions, with Gayle Dennison directing. It's always great fun working with Accidental, as they have that unneutered enthusiasm of a young company that generates such great energy and creativity.

The play, by Mike Coleman, is about the toxic effect of top down government interference on people's every day live. I play Howard Chubb, the slimy weasel tasked with auditing the Smith famliy.

The entry is free, and will be a great opening to the program, which will go right through summer, finishing with my own Sitting Up For Michael, in November.

4 Jul 2011

Pick N Mix, Sitting Up for Michael news, RSC Workshops, Pack Up YourTroubles

Once again I find myself in the fortunate position of being very busy over the last few weeks. In June, I performed in Red Lemon's Bouffon production, The Generous Bank, as part of the MAC's theatre festival Pick N Mix. As well as that, I was called in to deputise for John Sheyagh in Guerrilla Therapy's performed reading of Almost Stockholm. It was unfortunate that John wasn't able to do the show, but I hope I was able to perform to the standard that John would have.

While at the festival, I met Emily de Dakis, and Richard Lavery from Accidental Theatre who told me that they are picking up Sitting Up for Michael for their upcoming rehearsed reading programme, The Biscuit Tin Readings, to be performed in The Ulster Hall. This  is obviously huge news and really gives me confidence in my writing abilities, so I am going to press ahead in the coming weeks with my dark comedy Goolie's Human Taxidermy. The reading is set for Wednesday 16th November. Also on the program are Jaki McCarrick and William Patterson, whose plays I acted in last year, as part of the VI program.

Meanwhile, Fringe Benefits were chosen to be part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Open Stages project, an initiative to bridge the increasing divide between amateur and professional theatre. As part of this, they held workshops in the magnificent new Lyric Theatre. All aspects of theatre were covered, from costume to performance, and it was eyeopening to see how much work goes in to theatre (both amateur and professional) from all angles.

Sticking with Fringe Benefits, I have been asked to take part in their devised piece, Pack Up Your Troubles. This has been the company's flagship productions, and I am looking forward to taking part in it.

Also, this coming Wednesday I will be travelling to Downpatrick to film reconstructions for an upcoming TG4 documentary series. This follows on from my work in Éalú a great experience, and I can't wait to see the results.

As I said, I have been incredibly busy, and I think I have more to come over the rest of the summer.

15 Jun 2011

Pick N Mix festival - The Generous Bank with Red Lemon

I am currently deep in rehearsals for this weekend's Pick N Mix festival, part of the MACtivities aimed at raising funds for the construction of the MAC. It is a festival of theatre performances from all the major companies in Belfast all taking place in the Brian Friel Theatre. This is a great opportunity to see all the creativity going on in the city, all in one space, and the performances are only £5.

I am in Red Lemon's newwrite production, The Generous Bank, by Patrick O''Reilly. It is a chaotic mix of Bouffon theatre, circus acrobatics, musical numbers, biting satire and gay farmers. Rehearsals have been going on for the last few weeks in the newly opened Lyric Theatre. The building in beautiful and the rehearsal space has an inspiring view over the Lagan.

The ensemble features a multitalented group chosen from a series of workshops in April. John Shayegh is hilarious as the conniving bank manager, with David Stratton, Andrew Stanford and Jolene O'Hara playing his amoral staff. Rosie McClelland is frantic as the Money Making Machine, Granny Bags. Caroline Curran and Louise Mathews play the hard up victims of social mobility and Cathal J Ferris plays the manipulative robber Mark opposite my niave Tommy.

This is shaping up to be a great show, and the whole festival is sure to be one of the highlights of Belfast's packed summer calendar, so book your tickets and come enjoy the fun!

13 May 2011

Workshop with Game of Thrones star Michelle Fairley

This week I attended a workshop with the Game of Thrones star, Michelle Fairley, as part of the Cinemagic Dublin festival. The four hour workshop was brilliant, with a lot of incredible and enthusiastic young people.

It started with an in depth warm up, as Michelle walked us through the extensive 40 minute routine she goes through before she goes out on stage or on set. Then after a short break, we were put into pairs and asked to work through  Act 2, Scene 2 of Macbeth - the pivotal scene after Duncan is murdered. This has proved invaluable to me as I have an audition for Macbeth in London next week. Then we were split into groups of four to work through an early scene in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa - a work I wasn't familiar with but will certainly try to read now.

Finally she answered questions about acting in the industry, mentioning how working in America through her Broadway work and on ...Thrones was different to Britain in both good and bad ways.

She was incredibly approachable and modest for someone who is in the biggest new show on television and it's a credit once again to Cinemagic that they can attract such stellar talent to perform these workshops.

10 May 2011

Playboy of the Western World, Undisclosed, Progressive Building Society and Generous Bank!

This Friday and Saturday, May 13th and 14th sees the performance in my second run of Playboy of the Western World, this time playing the patriarchal Michael James at the Crescent Arts Centre. The production has been an exercise in sheer efficiency, as we only started rehearsing in earnest last week. The cast and crew, all from Queen's University Players have been fantastic and have brought real life to the piece in an incredibly short amount of time. Colm Doran is directing with help from Rory Knox, Alex Stone, Simon Welch and Adam Turns in the production team. Thomas Finnegan is the title role as Christy , Christina Martin, who I directed in Fast & Loose V, plays Pegeen, Anton Thompson-McCormick is the cowardly Shaun Keogh, Nuala Donnelly is hilarious as Widow Quinn, Terry McCartan plays the drunken letch, Jimmy Farrell, James Maguire courageously stepped in at the last minute to portray Old Mahon and the three girls are played with dynamism by Shauny Shields, Vicki Mohan and Sarah McLaughlin. This is probably my favourite play, so I can't wait to get to play it for another audience. Tickets are on sale from The Crescent's website for £5.

Next week, I have a small part in an upcoming BBC drama, Undisclosed. Starring Life On Mars' Philip Glenister, I'll be playing a prison admin officer who delivers bad news to the protagonist. Although this is only a small part, it'll be a great experience to be able to work among some of the best actors around, and every step on the ladder is a good one, so I'm looking forward to being on set.

Also, if you have been watching UTV Weather in the last week or so, you'll have heard a familiar voice in the advertising wraparounds for Progressive Building Society. Listen out at about 6:25 this evening, just before the mercurial Frank Mitchell announces where the Weather-Watching Camera was today!

Finally, I have been confirmed to be part of Red Lemon's Pick n Mix show, The Generous Bank. Pick n Mix is basically an industry showcase for theatre in Belfast, so to be involved is an incredible opportunity, and one I intend to grasp with both hands.

21 Apr 2011

Patrick O'Reilly Workshop, Playboy of The Western World, Radio play, Voice-overs!

Wow! A lot of news to report this week.

First I have been spending the first half of this week in workshops with Patrick O'Reilly of Red Lemon, studying Bouffon theatre. Among some great actors (Nadine Gorman, Shannen Smith, Andrew Stanford, Adam Goudy, Rachel Murray, Rosie Clelland, Martin Murray and others) it was an intensive two days, with Patrick intending it to lead to a production in Tinderbox's Pick and Mix Festival.

Meanwhile, rehearsals will start next week for me playing in JM Synge's Playboy of the Western World with the QU Players. Rory Knox is directing and I am playing the role of Michael. It will be interesting to see how my acting has developed since I furst took to the boards with Playboy... in November 2009 with South Bank Players. I can't wait to get stuck in again.

Staying with Queen's students, Leana Arrell, Brian Charity, Phil Hurst and other Creative Writing Masters students have cast me in their upcoming radio play. I play an imprisoned young man who seeks to get back in contact with his father. I have been wanting to perform these guys work for a while having seen them in Accidental's Fast and Loose programs. Hopefully there will be more to follow.

Finally, this morning I am going up to record a demo with Navigator Blue for use in a series of wraparound ads for television. Conor Kelly, who I worked with before has set this up again and it will be great opportunity to work from if the demo is picked up by the client.

So a pretty hectic week in all! More like this please!

10 Apr 2011

The Conversation claims Judges' Award at the Dare2BDrinkAware awards

Last week I went down to Dublin with the crew of The Conversation to attend the Dare2BDrinkAware awards, and we walked away with the Runners Up Prize in the Judges Choice category. This was a great achievement for the team, and thoroughly deserved by the whole team.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cassie Stokes from 3e presents us with the Runners Up award"][/caption]

The awards were judged by RTE presenter, John Kelly, 3e presenters Caroline Twohig and Cassie Stokes, John Kennedy from Silicone Republic and director of As If I'm Not There, Jaunita Wilson.

It was a great night for Institute of Technology Tallaght with the team who took first prize and People's Choice for their film, Babes in Bits, also from the college to complete a clean sweep for the department for the film awards.

DrinkAware is an organisation that seeks to raise awareness of alcohol's detrimental effects, especially among the 18-29 age group and this aim was highlighted in all the short-listed productions. All the shortlisted films can be viewed on their website, and this is the final edit of The Conversation.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21287799]

3 Apr 2011

Tribute to Constable Ronan Kerr

It was with initial shock, denial, disbelief then anger that I greeted the news of the deplorable murder of Ronan Kerr, a young man who I went to school with in the Christian Brothers in Omagh. While I hadn't spoke to him much since I left Omagh, it is with great fondness that I remembered him. He was always friendly and nobody would have ever said a bad word about him.
My thoughts are extended to his family and loved ones for their tragic loss, and to the people of Omagh, who have had so much stolen from them by these so called "freedom fighters".
He will be missed by all. Ronan Kerr RIP.

28 Mar 2011

Fast & Loose 5 with QU Players and Accidental Theatre

On Friday and Saturday, I took the opportunity to join up with the precocious talents in Queen's University Players and Accidental Theatre again to be part of Fast and Loose 5, their latest 24 hour play venture. Unlike last time, I decided to be a director, given that I would like to be able to move into that area at some stage, and this was a great opportunity to see if I could take the reigns on someone else's script.

I was handed Darragh Cotter's Last Choir Practice, a bittersweet tale of innocence lost between two schoolgirls, played perfectly by Christina Martin and Karen Quinn. It was nerve-shredding taking over someone's writing, but Darragh said he was pleased with how we approached it, and I hope I did it justice. It was great working with two fine young actresses, who approached the rehearsals and line learning with impeccable professionalism and were simply great natural performers, which took the pressure off me immediately.

The second play of the evening (Pirate Radio) was by Fast and Loose veterans, Leana Arrell, Brian Charity and Neal Cahoun, and they maintained their mischievous ways with a dark comedy about two cousins (David Heatley and Amy Poole) having to face the possibility that they will have to repopulate the planet. The performances and direction by Claire Mason were spot on, and the audience was in stitches. These writers are not afraid to broach taboos, and I said to them I would love to perform something they write, and hope to get a chance to sometime soon.

The third play, Danced Myself Into the Tomb, was a tragic exploration into the fragile state of the human mind, centred on a gut-wrenching performance from Josh Cuddy. Unfortunately the writer, James Pelan, was unable to see Jordana Maguire's expressive take on his piece, but I'm sure he would have approved.

Minerva by Seamus Collins finished the evening on a rapturous high. Seamus, fresh from winning a BBC Writersroom competition to be a writer for the Lyric Theatre, and premieres for his two plays, And of the Sun and Please, Patricia, is on something of a role at the minute, and long may it continue. His play was about two daughters coming to terms with their gregarious mother's philandering ways. A tour de force performance from Nuala Donnelly as the mother, along with Catherine Lambert and Ruth Wilson brilliantly playing the daughters, is a testament to director Colm Doran and the actresses themselves.

The production team, and overall outlay was considerably smaller for Fast and Loose 5, but the mercurial Emily de Dakis and Justyn MacKay still managed to put on a great show. Along with the lone stage manager, Simon Welch - who also provided some voiceovers for the plays - and writing mentor, Phil Hurst - who is also a writer on a role, having got through the first round of BBC NI's PrimeTime competition - assisting the writers overnight. Of course I and the other directors owe a huge debt to the men behind the tech desk, John Beecher and David Kane, who had to overcome missing equipment and theatre lock outs to get the tech runs and performances done. Hat tips all round.

The idea of doing a play in 24 hours really is frightening, but the energy is invigorating, and it's inspired me to attempt directing again soon.

12 Mar 2011

Filmed TG4 show, Éalú, in Armagh and Vichy performance

This week I was in Armagh Prison filming Éalú with Magamedia for TG4. Éalú is a documentary series focused on famous prison breaks, with actors providing visuals to accompany interviews.

I was playing the role of Sean Bourke, a political activist who planned and executed the escape of George Blake, a Soviet double agent who was incarcerated in Wormwood Scrubs prison. Their plan was ingenious, involving a rope ladder reinforced with knitting needles, forged documents, uninhibited derring-do and a walkie-talkie hidden in a pot plant.

Bourke was a live wire character, being imprisoned for mailing letter bombs to senior police officers, and having difficulty dealing with a drinking problem.

The other main actors were Shane Morgan and Mark Byatt and we were improvising scenes throughout the two shooting days. They were great actors and it is always great to be working off such great performers.

Part of the escape plan involved me making a quick escape in a vintage Ford Prefect, which was great except I had only one driving lesson in my entire life! It took about seven takes, but we eventually got the shot and I got invaluable driving experience!

Overall it was an incredible experience and to date the most significant screen work I have done. I can't wait to see it completed.

Now I go from one performance to a completely different one as Fringe Benefits revives Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy in the Belfast Synagogue (The Wolfson Centre) tomorrow and Monday nights (13th and 14th March). These will be the last time I perform as the downtrodden artist Lebeau, which will hurt since he has been a part of my life for nearly a year now. The production has really kicked into gear, and the adrenaline rush the actors will get from performing in front of a Jewish crowd will spur the production into greatness, I am certain.

It is free and starts at 7pm, so it'll be first come first served so take the opportunity to see this show while you can.

3 Mar 2011

Marcia Carr Workshop with QU Players

On Monday I was fortunate to be among only eight people who were selected to take part in a workshop facilitated by Marcia Carr, a professional actor, musician and dancer from the National Youth Theatre.
She was incredibly energetic and got so much activity packed in to the class that I was shocked to see that when we had finished we had only been there for two hours! We covered physicality, voice and authority, and the fact that it was suck an intimate group, she was able to help us each address some of our weaknesses.
It was certainly one of the best one-off workshops I have been to and it is a testament to the work put into the Queen's University Players that they are able to invite facilitators of such magnitude to take classes, so hat tips to Justyn MacKay, Shiraz Engineer and the others for that.
No doubt there'll be more great workshops from them in the future.

19 Feb 2011

Recording radio ad, critical feedback for Sitting up for Michael and Incident at Vichy rehearsals to restart

This week I recorded a radio commercial for the ad agency Navigator Blue, in the Picture House Studios. It was a hugely enjoyable experience, with a highly professional setup in the Studio. I had to record several short lines in a variety of rural Ulster accents, which portrayed the scope of the client's market.

The ad will run on several stations in the mid Ulster region, and, if I can, I will put a copy on the website when it is completed.

Also this week, I met up with Emily DeDakis, the dramaturg for Accidental Theatre to discuss Sitting Up for Michael, the play I wrote. It was a hugely productive meeting, as she had reams of notes, both of positivity, and of things I could improve on. We discussed the possibility of having a rehearsed reading for the play, so that would be exciting. I am also waiting for feedback from Tinderbox, so when I get that, I shall return to the writing.

Finally, tomorrow we are starting rehearsals back for Incident at Vichy, which of course is being revived on 13th and 14th March in the Belfast Synagogue. It'll be great to get back into the play, and I can't wait to start back with the cast.

10 Feb 2011

New radio advertising campaign confirmed

This morning I confirmed work that I am doing with the advertising agency Navigator Blue, to provide voice work for an upcoming radio campaign for a weekly farming publication.

The ads are currently scheduled for rural radio stations, and will run for at least ten weeks. They involve me performing a variety of voices, representative of the wide range of readers the publication caters for.

Recording is on Tuesday morning, under the creative director, Conor Kelly, who sought me out through Marie Louise Muir's Arts Extra Blog, after I had commented on one of her posts.

This will give me a lot more exposure, and will no doubt lead to bigger projects in the coming weeks and months.

2 Feb 2011

Revival of Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy in the Belfast Synagogue

Fringe Benefits are reviving Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation, Wolfson Centre on Sunday March 13th.

Following on from the sell out run of the Irish premiere in November 2010, popular demand, and a specific request from Jewish community in Belfast has meant the show has been revived as part of the Jewish Community festival.

This is great news for the company, and it will be great to get the show on again for all those who were unfortunately turned away at the door due to the high demand for tickets during our last run. The same high demand is expected again, and added to the fact that the tickets will be free, if you intend to go, ensure you get there early to avoid disappointment.

The Belfast Hebrew Congregation is in Wolfson Centre, 49 Somerton Road, BT15.

1 Feb 2011

My latest show reel now added to this site

I have now uploaded my show reel to this site, and I will be adding it to my Spotlight page as well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sMMJwBxKu4]

It features clips from Number 35, directed by Cliodhna O'Halloran, The Conversation, directed by Sinead McDonald, and Rent a Life, directed by Declan Murray.

I will continue to update new versions of my show reel, to include Ben Mudge's Hope, and shall be adding a voice reel, within the coming days.

You can see the video on my Vimeo page.

26 Jan 2011

Half way through intensive workshop week

It is Wednesday morning, and I am half through the intensive workshop week with Soilsiu Films, and calling it intensive has been a fititng description of the week. The day starts at 8am, with a group walk, and then for the most of the rest of the day we are in character doing improvisation workshops, before finishing the evening off with a documentary screening about the effects of child sexual abuse on the victims.

The material we are working with, based on Detective Martin Ridge's memoir as a detective investigating the rape of dozens of children by a priest in rural county Donegal is both harrowing, and also maddening because of the behaviour of the priest in question, Fr Greene and conspiratorial nature of the Diocesan cover up. Such is the depth of our analysis of the material, a psychologist, Dr Jeannie Cashin is on hand, should we need her.

Thankfully the day is broken up by various outdoor activities provided by Gartan Outdoor Education Centre, such as rock climbing, and cycling, ably led by Ed Humm and Charlie Cassidy. Cycling among the mountains, even on a blustery, wet day, is incredibly refreshing, and gives a much needed release.

The actors also on the workshop are Andrea McCaffrey, Anna Fox, Colm O'Brien, Jeremy Earls, Liam Halley, Melissa Nolan, Ruth Calder-Potts and Shane O'Reilly - all based in Dublin, and all incredibly talented. Developing characters from scratch through improvisation workshops is difficult, but with such a high calibre of talent, things took shape quickly.

This is an entirely new experience for all of us, including the director, David Rane, and his co-writer, Paul Bonar, but with a project of this magnitude, and importance, it is worth pushing limits for the art.

20 Jan 2011

Intensive workshop week in Donegal possibly leading to feature film

On Monday I travelled to Letterkenny to attend an audition, which I knew very little about, except that it was going to be entirely improvised. I went along, not knowing what to expect (for a start, I had never actually stopped in Letterkenny, only drove through it a few times when I was about 8 years old), and found An Grainan Theatre relatively easily. When I was there I met up with the director, David Rane, the producer, Paul Bonar, both involved with Soilsiu Films and a third lady, Dr Jeanne Cashin Phd.

They explained that the project was based on a non fiction book that they have optioned, the memoirs of a Guard based in rural Donegal, Martin Ridge, whose investigation led to the convictions of two paedophiles in the community, Fr Eugene Greene and a primary school teacher, Denis McGinley.

The project is going to be based on the grown up victims and how they deal with their trauma - hence the involvement of Dr Cashin.

The audition went well, and I was one of the first group of two to audition, which I am beginning to believe, is an advantage, since you get to set the bar, rather than live up to it. I got a call back and was told I have got a callback, which involves a week-long improv retreat in Gartan Outdoor Education Centre, where there will be team-building between the other attendees (I don't who they are yet), and an intensive program of workshops.

The project sounds incredibly moving, and it would be great to get a major role in the feature film - something my CV is lacking at present, but the retreat in itself will be an incredible experience, and I can't wait to get stuck in.

16 Jan 2011

New film Rent a Life completed

This week I received the final cut of the Declan Murray-directed film, Rent a Life. This was the film I was shooting before Christmas, with Shauna Coyles producing, James Ward as DP, Conall McMeekin on sound, and Kerri Kelly editing.

The production values were great, and the story, about an alcoholic struggling through a job interview, was presented beautifully. My co star, Eamonn Devlin played the part of the slightly unhinged interviewer to a tee.

I'll post a clip of the video here when the film is online.

9 Jan 2011

First draft of Sitting Up for Michael completed

This week I reached a personal milestone, having completed my first full play, Sitting Up for Michael (I mentioned it before). It is a small drama set during the sit up of a wake, exploring relationships between people during a bereavement.

I am going to send it around the theatre companies with dramaturgs in the city, and the reading group at Fringe Benefits, and try to get as much feedback as possible.

This is certainly a positive way to enter 2011, and with writing workshops at the end of January, and I am going to try to submit scripts for the BBC NI PrimeTime Competition (a comedy/drama about university freshers in halls), and BBC's Laughing Stock competition (an improved version of M'Learned Friends, my lawyer sitcom). Perhaps my writing could provide my break.

3 Jan 2011

Release of Lord of the Rings film, Hope, imminent

Today, I was delighted to see that Ben Mudge, director of the long-awaited Lord of the Rings fan film, Hope, has posted on his blog that the release of the film is imminent.

Believe it or not, this is me as an orc! Great make up work!

This is really exciting news, as this has been a film I have wanted to see completed for ages. The production values were incredible, as you can see from the picture above.

an abridged version of the film was played at Ben's graduation screening, but the full length version almost doubles the running time.

To whet your appetite further, here is the trailer for the film.