20 Jun 2012

Sitting Up for Michael a runaway success! All Ireland Arts Conference 2012

The run of Sitting Up for Michael ended with aplomb in The Alley Arts Centre, Strabane, with over 130 people coming down to see us. It was another fantastic turnout and the tour ended with over 500 people attended five performances!

I'm taking some time to regroup now, and see where I'll take King's Fool Productions next - there are a few avenues open at the minute, so it's just time to take stock of the options open to me.

I also was able to attend the All Ireland Arts Conference in the fantastic Lyric Theatre this past weekend. It was co-organised by Theatre Forum, Northern Ireland Theatre Association and Audiences NI. The first of the keynote speakers was Ben Cameron of the world famous Ted Talks, whose rousing opening speech had the the entire congregation in thrall - I swear he could have started a revolution in that room if he wanted. Next up was dance guru Farooq Chaudhry who has mastered turning art into business without sacrificing integrity. Finally Helen Marriage spoke of her experiences shutting down London to bring renowned French artists Royal de Luxe to the capital's streets with their gargantuan production The Sultan's Elephant. She spoke of years of negotiating rerouting traffic and street fixtures with sceptical city officials who were eventually won over by the scale and positivity of the final piece. It was heart-swelling seeing the public's reaction to the event, and I only wish I had been in London to see the event in person. All the keynote speakers were hugely inspiring and have spurned me on to emulate the sheer size and scope of their visions with my own work and King's Fool. Of course there were other events as well, most notably the drinks reception in the City Hall (transported via open top tour bus), followed by a barbeque buffet in the Ramada Encore (only dampened by Ireland's dismal performance against Spain in the Euros) and an intimate musical performance with the inimitable Duke Special and Julie Feeney. Overall it was an amazing performance, and reminded me why it was I chose to follow this life as an artist.

8 Jun 2012

The Odd Couple, Sitting Up for Michael tour and Pick N Mix

Well, I've had such a hectic month - three plays in 30 days - that I haven't been able to find space to write here about it.

First, I was in the brilliant Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival as part of Skewiff Theatre's production of Neil Simon's classic, The Odd Couple. Alongside the not inconsiderable talent of Joe Lindsay, Morgan Hearst, Christian Winterman (nee Jackson), Griffin Madill, Moninne Dargan and Emma McErlean we packed out the Dark Horse bar - a testament to the talent of director Mary Lindsay.



Then, within three days of finishing that my own company King's Fool Productions 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!



Also, tomorrow (one day after ...Michael concludes - see not a moment to breathe!) I am in Accidental's production of Intervention, by Dave Kinghan. This thriller, set entirely within a tiny cell tells the story of two guerrilla performance artists who must try to figure out why they have been put there. This is the first full Accidental production I have been involved in, after working with them over the last few years on their rehearsed readings programme. It's great to be working with director Richard Lavery again, and with a three person cast made up of myself, Miche Doherty and Matt Faris, Accidental live up to their reputation as one of the leading emerging theatre companies in Belfast, and they are going to light up The Mac's Pick N Mix festival.

So as we go hurtling in to summer, I might have a chance to take a breather and watch some football - although not much by the looks of things!

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.

26 Sep 2011

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!