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.

6 Feb 2012

Éalú and Bóithre Iarainn to air on TG4 in the coming weeks.

You wait months for your TV appearances to air then two come along at once!

The two TG4 series I filmed in 2011 are going on air in the first couple of weeks of February.

The first is a documentary series, Bóithre Iarainn, which details some of the incredible stories of major events that took place on Ireland's railway network in the early part of the twentieth century. The episode I featured in involved a bloody shootout at the border station of Clones, as the IRA tried to get their hands on the military weapons that were on board. The series starts on Thursday February 9th at 8pm.

The second series is Éalú, a series about daring prison escapes by Irish convicts. My character, Sean Bourke, was an anarchic communist sympathiser who masterminded the breakout of another prisoner from Wormwood Scrubs. This airs on Thursday 16th February at 7pm.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g55o_kEGKc]


Both shows were fantastic shoots, so I can't wait to see the final product.

12 Jan 2012

Sitting Up for Michael at the audition stage

Over the last while I have been preparing King's Fool Productions for our first major production, my play Sitting Up for Michael. We will be holding out audition on Sunday having received over 400 applicants from all over the UK and Ireland.
The standard was so high, it was excrutiatingly difficult to have to choose who to invite.
I'll be sitting alongside the director Helen Donnelly, who directed the rehearsed reading in November, but my role will mostly be to read in.
We are still sorting out then locations of the tour, but we'll be touring across the province in May and June, and I'm really looking forward to it.

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!

10 Apr 2011

The Conversation claims Judges' Award at the Dare2BDrinkAware awards

Last week I went down to Dublin with the crew of The Conversation to attend the Dare2BDrinkAware awards, and we walked away with the Runners Up Prize in the Judges Choice category. This was a great achievement for the team, and thoroughly deserved by the whole team.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cassie Stokes from 3e presents us with the Runners Up award"][/caption]

The awards were judged by RTE presenter, John Kelly, 3e presenters Caroline Twohig and Cassie Stokes, John Kennedy from Silicone Republic and director of As If I'm Not There, Jaunita Wilson.

It was a great night for Institute of Technology Tallaght with the team who took first prize and People's Choice for their film, Babes in Bits, also from the college to complete a clean sweep for the department for the film awards.

DrinkAware is an organisation that seeks to raise awareness of alcohol's detrimental effects, especially among the 18-29 age group and this aim was highlighted in all the short-listed productions. All the shortlisted films can be viewed on their website, and this is the final edit of The Conversation.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21287799]

19 Feb 2011

Recording radio ad, critical feedback for Sitting up for Michael and Incident at Vichy rehearsals to restart

This week I recorded a radio commercial for the ad agency Navigator Blue, in the Picture House Studios. It was a hugely enjoyable experience, with a highly professional setup in the Studio. I had to record several short lines in a variety of rural Ulster accents, which portrayed the scope of the client's market.

The ad will run on several stations in the mid Ulster region, and, if I can, I will put a copy on the website when it is completed.

Also this week, I met up with Emily DeDakis, the dramaturg for Accidental Theatre to discuss Sitting Up for Michael, the play I wrote. It was a hugely productive meeting, as she had reams of notes, both of positivity, and of things I could improve on. We discussed the possibility of having a rehearsed reading for the play, so that would be exciting. I am also waiting for feedback from Tinderbox, so when I get that, I shall return to the writing.

Finally, tomorrow we are starting rehearsals back for Incident at Vichy, which of course is being revived on 13th and 14th March in the Belfast Synagogue. It'll be great to get back into the play, and I can't wait to start back with the cast.

10 Feb 2011

New radio advertising campaign confirmed

This morning I confirmed work that I am doing with the advertising agency Navigator Blue, to provide voice work for an upcoming radio campaign for a weekly farming publication.

The ads are currently scheduled for rural radio stations, and will run for at least ten weeks. They involve me performing a variety of voices, representative of the wide range of readers the publication caters for.

Recording is on Tuesday morning, under the creative director, Conor Kelly, who sought me out through Marie Louise Muir's Arts Extra Blog, after I had commented on one of her posts.

This will give me a lot more exposure, and will no doubt lead to bigger projects in the coming weeks and months.

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.

1 Feb 2011

My latest show reel now added to this site

I have now uploaded my show reel to this site, and I will be adding it to my Spotlight page as well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sMMJwBxKu4]

It features clips from Number 35, directed by Cliodhna O'Halloran, The Conversation, directed by Sinead McDonald, and Rent a Life, directed by Declan Murray.

I will continue to update new versions of my show reel, to include Ben Mudge's Hope, and shall be adding a voice reel, within the coming days.

You can see the video on my Vimeo page.

26 Jan 2011

Half way through intensive workshop week

It is Wednesday morning, and I am half through the intensive workshop week with Soilsiu Films, and calling it intensive has been a fititng description of the week. The day starts at 8am, with a group walk, and then for the most of the rest of the day we are in character doing improvisation workshops, before finishing the evening off with a documentary screening about the effects of child sexual abuse on the victims.

The material we are working with, based on Detective Martin Ridge's memoir as a detective investigating the rape of dozens of children by a priest in rural county Donegal is both harrowing, and also maddening because of the behaviour of the priest in question, Fr Greene and conspiratorial nature of the Diocesan cover up. Such is the depth of our analysis of the material, a psychologist, Dr Jeannie Cashin is on hand, should we need her.

Thankfully the day is broken up by various outdoor activities provided by Gartan Outdoor Education Centre, such as rock climbing, and cycling, ably led by Ed Humm and Charlie Cassidy. Cycling among the mountains, even on a blustery, wet day, is incredibly refreshing, and gives a much needed release.

The actors also on the workshop are Andrea McCaffrey, Anna Fox, Colm O'Brien, Jeremy Earls, Liam Halley, Melissa Nolan, Ruth Calder-Potts and Shane O'Reilly - all based in Dublin, and all incredibly talented. Developing characters from scratch through improvisation workshops is difficult, but with such a high calibre of talent, things took shape quickly.

This is an entirely new experience for all of us, including the director, David Rane, and his co-writer, Paul Bonar, but with a project of this magnitude, and importance, it is worth pushing limits for the art.

20 Jan 2011

Intensive workshop week in Donegal possibly leading to feature film

On Monday I travelled to Letterkenny to attend an audition, which I knew very little about, except that it was going to be entirely improvised. I went along, not knowing what to expect (for a start, I had never actually stopped in Letterkenny, only drove through it a few times when I was about 8 years old), and found An Grainan Theatre relatively easily. When I was there I met up with the director, David Rane, the producer, Paul Bonar, both involved with Soilsiu Films and a third lady, Dr Jeanne Cashin Phd.

They explained that the project was based on a non fiction book that they have optioned, the memoirs of a Guard based in rural Donegal, Martin Ridge, whose investigation led to the convictions of two paedophiles in the community, Fr Eugene Greene and a primary school teacher, Denis McGinley.

The project is going to be based on the grown up victims and how they deal with their trauma - hence the involvement of Dr Cashin.

The audition went well, and I was one of the first group of two to audition, which I am beginning to believe, is an advantage, since you get to set the bar, rather than live up to it. I got a call back and was told I have got a callback, which involves a week-long improv retreat in Gartan Outdoor Education Centre, where there will be team-building between the other attendees (I don't who they are yet), and an intensive program of workshops.

The project sounds incredibly moving, and it would be great to get a major role in the feature film - something my CV is lacking at present, but the retreat in itself will be an incredible experience, and I can't wait to get stuck in.

16 Jan 2011

New film Rent a Life completed

This week I received the final cut of the Declan Murray-directed film, Rent a Life. This was the film I was shooting before Christmas, with Shauna Coyles producing, James Ward as DP, Conall McMeekin on sound, and Kerri Kelly editing.

The production values were great, and the story, about an alcoholic struggling through a job interview, was presented beautifully. My co star, Eamonn Devlin played the part of the slightly unhinged interviewer to a tee.

I'll post a clip of the video here when the film is online.

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.

3 Jan 2011

Release of Lord of the Rings film, Hope, imminent

Today, I was delighted to see that Ben Mudge, director of the long-awaited Lord of the Rings fan film, Hope, has posted on his blog that the release of the film is imminent.

Believe it or not, this is me as an orc! Great make up work!

This is really exciting news, as this has been a film I have wanted to see completed for ages. The production values were incredible, as you can see from the picture above.

an abridged version of the film was played at Ben's graduation screening, but the full length version almost doubles the running time.

To whet your appetite further, here is the trailer for the film.





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.

14 Nov 2010

Modelling for Drink and Draw with Coffee House Art Club

Next Monday, I will be modeling for the Coffee House Art Club in their second Drink and Draw event. I have already modeling for them once, and it was a great experience, making various dramatic poses with fellow model and organiser, Jude McVittie.

The full gallery can be seen over at the CHAC website, but below are some with me in them. The poses were inspired by my performance in Lunch.

If you would like to get involved, it takes place in Castro's Coffee House at the end of Royal Avenue at 7pm on Monday, and cost £3. If you purchase food, you can also BYOB. It is a relaxed atmosphere, and a good chance to meet the talented members of CHAC.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Me at the knees of Jude McVitty"][/caption]

10 Nov 2010

Filming in Belfast with Queen's University students

Today I was filming for Queen's University students in Belfast city centre. It's a project I got into late, having only received the script on Monday, but we got through the first of two days filming today.

Produced by Shauna Coyles, the film, as yet untitled, was written and directed by Declan Murray, with DP duties being handled by James Ward, sound by Conall McMeekin and editing by Kerri Kelly.

We were shooting in Queen Street Studios, in the offices of Triplevision Productions, with the owner, Eamonn Devlin, doubling as actor in the project.

There is another day of shooting tomorrow, and the completion date is set for December 15th, so I should be able put some footage on the site then.

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.

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.

25 Oct 2010

First Belfast Fringe Festival ends on a high

Belfast's first Fringe Festival ended last night with a karaoke in Ma Nelson's on the Lisburn Road. It was a fitting end (more performing!) to a hugely successful weekend.

Congratulations are in order for all concerned, and overall numbers exceeded expectations, especially Paul Currie, who packed 100 people into the The Errigle Inn, with his madcap puppet and props cartoon routine.

I was one of the army of volunteers who had the pleasure of seeing the show they were manning the doors for, and the rest of the shows in the festival for free. It was a privilege seeing the members of the Young Stars casting agency in their 3 Pint-Sized Productions, in Alchemy Studios, and Skewiff Theatre Company's presentation of The Waiting Room in the Belfast Film Festival building.

Our performance of The 39 Steps was a complete success too, with No Alibi's having to turn up to twenty people away at the door. The poetry jukebox was performing 20 poems an hour at Forestside, which was all made possible with the assistance of Castlereagh Borough Council.

There has been a lot learned over the weekend, meaning that next year's festival will be a feast of culture!