23 Apr 2012

PRESS RELEASE: New Play by Northern Ireland Writer Set to Premiere Next Month

Omagh-born playwright James McAnespy’s first play Sitting Up for Michael will premiere at Derry Playhouse on Saturday May 19th.

The new play, the first production by his company King’s Fool, is set at a wake house in rural county Tyrone.

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Poster for Sitting Up for Michael
McAnespy has expressed concern that the increased pressures of modern lifestyles and increased youth emigration threaten the viability of sitting up for the deceased in a wake house.

“Irish wakes are a unique form of mourning,” McAnespy said. “It allows the mourners to celebrate the life of the deceased as well as providing a platform for people to offer their condolences if the death was a tragic one.

“It is unfortunate that we are already seeing the tradition is being practiced less and less in city environments.”

The comedy, which McAnespy will be acting in, is a bittersweet comedy about the tensions that arise when the truth comes to the surface, especially when emotions are already high and liberated by drink. Through this prism, Sitting Up for Michael explores themes of family,
bereavement, youth unemployment, bullying and many other aspects of 21st century life in Ireland.

“Everyone has been to a wake,” McAnespy said, “and people will recognise the characters in the play that are in every small town in Ireland, so audiences will be able to relate to the action on stage.”

The cast of seven is a blend of youth and experience and is made up of actors from across the province, including some who are making their professional debuts. Brian Kennedy from Strabane plays the grumpy Brian, Marianne March plays his ambitious sister, Benjamin Gould plays the
charismatic Joe, Naomi Rocke plays the spiteful Carla, Michael O’Sullivan of Dublin plays the troubled Billy, and Cathy Brennan-Bradley plays the charitable Doris. The director, Helen Donnelly from Newry, has been training in London and is now establishing herself as one of the leading
young directors in Belfast.

Following the Playhouse premiere Sitting Up for Michael will play Belfast, Omagh and Strabane.

Tickets for the premiere priced £11, £8 concessions are available form Derry Playhouse Box Office via http://www.derryplayhouse.co.uk , in person or by phone on 71268027

11 Apr 2012

Sitting Up for Michael and The Odd Couple - A busy May!

This month I am going into the busiest month of 2012 so far as I'll be embarking on two stage productions, my own Sitting Up for Michael and Skewiff Theatre Productions' version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. 
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The Odd Couple, which is being directed by Mary Lindsey, who was in the rehearsed reading of ...Michael, is part of this year's Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and is one of the Belfast Telegraph's picks of the festival. It's incredible I get to be part of the festival, as it has been a huge success over the years, and this year proves to be no different, with talent such as Rachel Austin, The Rubberbandits, and Dylan Moran just a tiny fraction of the entertainment on offer. The cast for the quick fire comedy is appropriately enough comprised largely of stand up comedians, led by Joe Lindsey and Morgan Hearst as the eponymous Couple, with support from Christian Jackson (who was in Incident at Vichy with me), Griffin Madill, Ruaidhrí Ward, Monnine Dargan and Emma McErlean. The play will be on in the Dark Horse Cafe from May 9 -12 and tickets can be purchased here.
While that is going on, I will also be in rehearsals with ...Michael, which is set to tour across the province in May and into June, but I will discuss that in a future post.