Next Up

Next up: I will be featuring in the short films Dark & Stormy and Belfast Caliber 9.

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.

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.

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.

22 Dec 2010

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to post a quick blog to say Merry Christmas to all who read this blog. It has been a great year for me personally, having worked with some amazing people, from Accidental, Wireless Mystery, Devised and Fringe Benefits Theatre companies, and the various film projects I worked on.
I can't wait to work with those guys again in 2011, and see what new stuff they produce themselves.
Once again, Happy Christmas, try to get home, and have a wonderful new year.

9 Nov 2010

Incident at Vichy plays to packed houses

Incident at Vichy completed it's run on Saturday, and played to packed audiences every night. The production was a triumph for Fringe Benefits, and if demand was fully met, I think we could have sold out another two nights. In response to this, it is highly likely that the show will be revived in the forthcoming months, just as the company's first production, Pack Up Your Troubles, is due to be taken on tour in March.

The cast of 21 (17 male, plus four non-speaking female roles) was impeccable, but couldn't have been anywhere near as successful without the continued input of the back stage staff. Frieda Slevin, and her assistant, Alex Moore ensured all our costumes were impeccable for every performance - despite the abuse the characters put them through. Jenny McDonald was working tirelessly throughout rehearsals locating some obscure props, and the set was desgined and costructed by Andy Gray and Colin Dunlop with an army of volunteers from the Vent Collective. Bryan Marshall published the programmes, which I managed to get signed by almost the eniter cast and crew (I intend to rectify the almost part of this within the next weeks).

All in all, the show went down a storm, and it means that I am bereft of a major project at present, but there are some small projects I have lined up, and a few potential auditions so the future is bright.

20 Oct 2010

Incident at Vichy and The 39 Steps posters

Just a quick update to show the latest posters for ...Vichy and The 39 Steps.

 



[caption id="attachment_367" align="alignleft" width="343" caption="Poster for Fringe Benefits' production of Incident at Vichy"][/caption]



 

[caption id="attachment_368" align="alignleft" width="339" caption="Poster for Wireless Mystery Theatre's The 39 Steps"][/caption]

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

25 Jul 2010

Rehearsals in full swing for Incident at Vichy and Lunch

Currently rehearsals for my current shows, Incident at Vichy and Lunch, are motoring ahead at full pelt, with two rehearsals of each a week keeping me on my toes.
This period of gestation is one of the most exciting parts of being in a play, when the project really starts to take shape, and you are really getting to grips with the characters and interacting for the first time with your fellow cast members.
With ...Vichy today we set down a very solid opening ten minutes, with Vincent Tsang, Sam Mahadeo, Brian Kennedy, Tom Dart, Jack Geary, Glenn Hamill, Denis McAlinden and Andy Grey all putting in great performances in front of director Adrian Cooke, who seemed suitably impressed.
In our rehearsals for Lunch, myself and Caroline Brennan are biting our way into a very dense piece of drama, under the direction of Richard Sloane, with admirable results.
It's difficult juggling two pieces of drama, but I am confident I will be able to keep it under control, and it's certainly better than having nothing to be preparing for.

8 Jul 2010

I am performing at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in Steven Berkoff’s Lunch

I have successfully auditioned for a part in a performance of Steven Berkoff's play, Lunch. It is with an ambitious new theatre group, Magnetic Theatre Company.

Produced by David Mann, they have booked a slot at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is a great opportunity to get more publicity, and perform to a whole new audience.

I am playing opposite Caroline Brennan, who is a fellow member of Fringe Benefits, and more than capable as a co-lead.

The play is a post-modern take on sexual relationships, with an uncompromising tone exploring the base underbelly of sex. It is definitely a challenging piece, and definitely expands my dramatic range.

This is an exciting project to be part of, and should open many doors for me.

15 Jun 2010

Role in Irish Premier of Incident at Vichy confirmed

It has just been announced that I am to play Ledeau in the Irish premier of Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy.

Written in the early 60s, Vichy is considered one of Miller's lost plays. It tells the story of several men who have been arrested, and are awaiting interrogation by Nazi guards. They discuss rumours of people being rounded up and killed en masse, but noone can confirm them, while others refuse to believe that such barbarism could be possible.

The director is Adrian Cooke, and its part of the Fringe Benefits Theatre Group's winter schedule.

Obviously this is exciting news, and the first performance is pencilled in for Thursday 5th November, with further performances in various venues throughout the province, and perhaps beyond.

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.

14 Apr 2010

Joined Fringe Benefits Theatre Company

Yesterday I was confirmed as a member of the Fringe Benefits Theatre Company, where I will begin attending workshops in May. Being part of a company brings many benefits, and this one is particularly exciting, so I am looking forward to getting started.

They are intending to put on a production of Incident at Vichy, Arthur Millar's play, which hasn't been performed in Ireland before, and are hoping to have members of the Arthur Miller Foundation in attendance, so that will be a great project to be a part of.