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Next up: I will be launching None of That: A Black Books Podcast

11 Apr 2017

Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy (2010-11): The American Great Tackles Europe's Nadir

𝔄rthur Miller's best work focused on the American experience. The American Dream, where every man can raise a family by sheer strength of spirit in The Land of the Free was exposed in his most famous work, Death of a Salesman. And the puritanical vim of the early settlers, who curtailed female empowerment/dealt with difficult women, by burning them at the stake in the Salem Witch Trials was laid bare in The Crucible, while serving as the perfect backdrop for a metaphor on McCarthyism.

26 Mar 2017

Playboy of the Western World, a play for the 21st century.

UPDATE 𝕺n May 10-12 I'll be performing in J.M. Synge's Playboy of the Western World. The play is considered one of the great works of Irish literature (a very coveted field - it would be no exaggeration to say that Irish literature is possibly the most prolific in the world), and caused riots upon its premier in the Abbey Theatre in 1907, led by one of the founders of Sinn Fein, Arthur Griffiths.

27 Feb 2017

VIDEO: First rehearsal trailer for Playboy of the Western World



Here is a rehearsal trailer from Playboy of the Western World, which is on in the Crescent Arts Centre Belfast on April 1&2. 

The trailer looks fantastic and I'm really looking forward to performing the play. 

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!

4 Nov 2010

Incident at Vichy ticket update: Tonight SOLD OUT

Tickets for tonight's performance of Incident at Vichy have sold out. There are still some tickets left for tomorrow (less than 10)± and Saturday (less than 20)±. To purchase your tickets, go to the Crescent's online box office.

±ticket numbers correct as of 10am Thursday.

13 Oct 2010

Press Release: Omagh Actor in Irish Premiere of Arthur Miller’s Play ‘Incident at Vichy’

Press Release
Omagh Actor in Irish Premiere of Arthur Miller’s Play ‘Incident at Vichy’

Omagh actor, James McAnespy is to appear in the Fringe Benefits Theatre Company Company production and Irish Premiere of ‘Incident at Vichy’, Arthur Miller’s one act play set during the round up of Jews in Vichy France in the Second World War. Ten men are held prisoner by fear, with no way out and only one final solution. The play is at the Crescent Arts Centre on the 4th, 5th, 6th of November 2010. Tickets are £8 and £10 and available at the Crescent box office and online at www.crescentarts.org.



‘Incident at Vichy’ is an exciting production that explores the themes of guilt, denial and complicity with the state forces of authority at the start of the round up of Jews in Vichy France in 1942. It is directed by Adrian Cooke and co-directed by Cathy McCullough from Fringe Benefits Theatre Company.



James McAnespy, actor with Fringe Benefits Theatre Company, said: “I have wanted to act in this play for such a long time. It has so many themes that still apply in today’s world. How do we deal with fear and a sense of threat to our lives? Do we conform, or struggle against the system? Do we look after our own needs or reach out to help others? Arthur Miller has presented us with many dilemmas to consider in this work! It has been a journey and a delight to get the opportunity to perform in it with such a dedicated cast.”



In ‘Incident at Vichy’ a group of men and young boy are detained and awaiting 'inspection' by German officers and Vichy France officials. Each one has been removed from the streets at random - not sure why he has been targeted. Each is faced with decisions about how to react – to be passive and conform in the hope of survival, struggle against authority and risk their lives, or continue in denial. They argue and cajole each other in the face of the unknown. Victims and persecutors seem trapped in a situation with little room for resistance – or is there?



Cathy McCullough, Co Director of Incident at Vichy and Director of Fringe Benefits Theatre Company said: “I am thrilled to be involved in this production. I have been an admirer of Arthur Miller’s work for a lifetime and am excited that Fringe Benefits has been able to produce the premiere of one of his most absorbing plays for our audiences in N. Ireland. This is a very adventurous production for us, requiring a large cast of 18 actors in period costume with a full stage set. That we have managed to pull it off is a tribute to the dedication of our cast and many volunteers. Their professionalism has been staggering. And of course, to the skill and tenacity of our director Adrian Cooke. But then, that’s what Fringe Benefits is about! “





The production of Incident at Vichy' is accompanied by an audience panel discussion 'From Miller to Vichy and Beyond' on Saturday 6th November at 5pm in the Crescent Arts Centre. Admission is £1 and tickets can be purchased at the door. The panel will be facilitated by the well-known journalist and commentator Malachi O'Doherty. Joining Malachi on the panel will be Professor David Johnston (QUB), Dr Phillip McGowan ( QUB), Ms Sheena Black, Head of Drama at Lagan College – and maybe one or two surprises!



Fringe Benefits works from the Crescent Arts Centre in South Belfast, where it was also originally housed in the early 80’s when it was one of the most respected and dynamic theatre companies in the City. Previous members, such as Conleth Hill, Michelle Fairley, Richard Orr and many others went on to achieve successful careers in the world of arts, entertainment and theatre.



The new ‘Fringe Benefits Theatre Company’ is one of the largest Community-based theatre companies in Northern Ireland. It is made up of over 30 actors, directors, writers and stage crew. Fringe Benefits is committed to providing professional level training, development and performance opportunities for all its members, while providing the public with fresh, interesting and absorbing theatre experiences. Fringe Benefits supports members in their goals toward professional careers in theatre and the arts.

For more information about the work of Fringe Benefits Theatre Company and how to join go to http://www.fringebenefitstheatrecompany.com [caption id="attachment_349" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Partial cast of Incident at Vichy"][/caption]

ENDS

6 Oct 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Fringe Benefits Theatre Company Presents the Irish Premiere of Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy

Fringe Benefits Theatre Company presents

Irish Premiere of Arthur Miller’s

Incident at Vichy

France 1942

10 Men Held prisoner by fear

One final solution - No way out

4-6 November 2010, Tickets £10 / £8 (concession)

TO BOOK TICKETS ON LINE GO TO

https://crescentarts.ticketsolve.com/shows/26500374/events

Directed by Adrian Cooke, Co-directed by Cathy McCullough
Performed by Fringe Benefits Theatre Company


Arthur Miller's one act play, set in France in World War Two, explores the themes of guilt, denial and complicity with the state forces of authority at the start of the round up of Jews in Vichy France in 1942.


A group of men are detained and awaiting 'inspection' by German officers and Vichy officials, each man has been pulled off the street, not sure why he has been targeted. They are faced with the decision about how to act, either passively to conform in the hope of survival, or to struggle against authority and risk their lives. In Incident at Vichy the characters argue and cajole each other to act in the face of the unknown. Both victims and persecutors are trapped in a system where they find little room for resistance.


Fringe Benefits Theatre Company is one of the largest community based theatre companies in Northern Ireland , committed to training and developing the acting and theatre skills of its members.


The company is made up of actors, writers and directors committed to professional skills training, providing members with performance opportunities, encouraging their progress toward careers in professional theatre. For more information about the work of Fringe Benefits Theatre Company and how to join go to www.fringebenefitstheatrecompany.com.


Fringe Benefits Theatre Company is a ‘Not for profit organisation’ and members receive no payment for productions.


Incident at Vichy is licensed by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Plays Ltd, New York .

15 May 2010

Workshops with Fringe Benefits

I am currently preparing for my second weekly workshop with Fringe Benefits Theatre Company in the Crescent Arts Centre.

My first was last Saturday, and I really enjoyed it. It was a vocal session with Anna Newell, and it gave me a lot of confidence in my vocal ability, even though it was all the singing was done in groups.

The workshops are four hours long, and hard work is expected of all participants, but this is encouraging, and the challenge maintains my ability at the highest level.

I am really looking forward to all the workshops now, and finding out my abilities and limitations.