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.

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!