Next Up

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

17 Jun 2017

Theatre is no longer the writer's medium

𝔗heatre has evolved away from the writer. This is a stark statement, but increasingly proving itself to be true. Where once the writer was the main crux of the stage, and productions were put on to bring the writer's vision to fruition, or to maximise the impact of their ideas, it is now largely a storefront for singers, dancers and physical performers.

15 May 2017

The Odd Couple (2012): One of 20th Century Theatre's enduring crowd-pleasers.

𝕺ne of the more successful productions I was involved in, as far as consistently high bums to seats ratio was The Odd Couple in 2012. It was directed by Mary Lindsay, who I had worked with previously during the rehearsed reading for Sitting Up for Michael. She was so perfect in the role of Doris, it tore me up that she was about twenty years too young for the part when it came to staging. 

10 May 2017

YouTube: Romancing the Score - traditional pubs monologue by James McAnespy

James McAnespy as Brian, railing against the craft beer phenomenon that has swept across the country. What happened to the traditional boozer? From the premier of Romancing the Score by Shane White. Performed at the Pentameters Theatre, Hamstead, February 2015. Directed by John Dunne; Produced by Leonie Scott-Matthews.
Romancing the Score - traditional pubs monologue by James McAnespy

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.

2 Jan 2017

New footage found of C.L.G. (Cúmann Luthchleas Gael) from 2014!

It's great finding footage of your old work that you didn't know existed, an unexpected blast from the past! An audience member from the White Bear sent me this a few weeks ago - the full play of C.L.G. from the 2014 run.
I remember Paul Rogers taking one look at the script and just getting it immediately - completely putting to bed any anxiety I had about the fact that the character is written for a much older actor. Paul was great to work with and is now training to be a wrestler - I can't wait to see him in action! He's just decided on a finishing move, so I'll keep you posted when he's laying the smackdown in a ring near you!

I've decided to follow this up with footage of some of my other old work - no matter how good or bad it is! So if you have any footage or photographs of work I've been in, please do get in touch!


7 Jan 2015

CASTING ANNOUNCEMENT: Cast in London Irish Theatre's next production, Romancing The Score

I am delighted to announce that I have been cast in the next production of the burgeoning London Irish Theatre Company, Romancing the Score, written by Shane White, directed by John Dunne and produced by Leonie Scott-Matthews.

The comedy, set in present day Belfast, centres around a pub football team and their disastrous attempts to compete with teams from the snazzy gastropubs. I play the team player/manager Brian who is steadfastly holding onto the traditions of the old boozers in the face of the trendy bars with their pulled pork and Thai menus.

I am joined in the cast by Victoria Armstrong, Maura Judges, Paulina Ferry, Jon Adams, Mark Moore and Tom Shah. It runs Tuesday-Sundays from 3-27 February 2015, at the Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead. Tickets are priced at £13/£10, with a special £10 online price that can be purchased here.

Romancing The Score introduces the world of Five-A-Side football and its intense rivalry. At odds with the recent and on-going emergence of modern bars, one of the remaining traditional pubs, Lavery's, steadfastly resists modernisation. Their pub team attempts to deflate the egos of the new bars by a defiant display on the football pitch. Unfortunately Bridie's team is made up of less-than-able players who traditionally suffer humiliating defeats. Tradition is all-important to this pub! However, is this love of all things traditional merely a mask disguising a fear of the future, a fear of change?
A city rising from the ashes, dispensing with old rivalries and tired, worn out traditions, consigning them to the quagmire that is the past. But, hey, ho, it takes upon itself new ones. Where better to start than down the pub and where better to be down the pub than in Belfast. And not just any old pub, one particular old pub, Bridie's. Romancing The Score goes to the true heart of the game of football, of life, of lost hope, of unrequited love...of loneliness.


Pentameters Theatre, 28 Heath Street, London NW3 6TE (Hampstead tube)
3-22 Feb ‘15 @ 8pm (5pm Sundays) 
@ £13/£10 (SPECIAL PAYPAL BOOKING @ £10) 

10 Apr 2014

First review for C.L.G./Sitting Up for Michael is in! ★★★★ Four stars from Remote Goat!

Our first review of C.L.G./Sitting Up for Michael is in! Remote Goat has given our production 4 stars, and particularly commended the performances of Sharron Byrne as Frieda and Peter Dineen as Billy.

Sharron Byrne in her lauded performance as Frieda.
They particularly enjoyed the frantic pace and "very funny" writing in C.L.G., which has never been viewed by an audience before.

Peter Dineen's performance as Billy was singled out by Remote Goat
C.L.G./Sitting Up for Michael Double Bill is debuting in the White Bear Theatre, London from April 8-27. Tickets are on sale now from TicketSource

5 Apr 2014

C.L.G./Sitting Up For Michael 2014 - Interview with the cast and crew (video)

The cast and crew of C.L.G./Sitting Up for Michael discuss the upcoming double bill.

C.L.G. 
Two members of rival GAA clubs have been locked in a room until they can decide on a neutral venue for their upcoming match. It'll be the first time the two teams will have met for nine years, and some old scores have been long to heal. Will the dastardly Sam trick his way to getting the venue he wants, or can the put-upon Lory hold fast? They'd need to hurry up though - Fair City will be on soon.

Sitting Up for Michael
Michael's died. Who's going to do the readings? Will there be a lock-in at Packie's? Why did he only get twenty Mass Cards? It's a wil' handlin' altogether. The family and friends of Michael Montague gather for the sit up on the eve of his funeral. Set in contemporary county Tyrone, James McAnespy's comedy explores themes of family, separation and hidden pasts. So don't open the brandy until tomorrow. Brian, Michael's stubborn son, bickers relentlessly with his sister Frieda who has just come down from Belfast and starts ruling the roost as usual. Their neighbour Doris offers her support and a hot pot of tea. Young Rory, who reaches for a drink a little too readily is there to see Joe, whose coming down on the University bus, with a girl he just met - but she's got more to hide than she's letting on.

The White Bear Theatre
138 Kennington Park Road London SE11 4DJ Tube: Kennington (Northern Line). Turn left out of the station along the main road and the White Bear is on the right hand side. Bus: 3, 59, 133, 155, 159, 414

Tickets: £14/£10 concession (no booking fee) available from http://ift.tt/QTGWPy or on door (subject to availability)
Web: www.kingsfool.net
Twitter: @kings_fool
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KingsFoolNI


C.L.G./Sitting Up for Michael Double Bill is debuting in the White Bear Theatre, London from April 8-27. Tickets are on sale now from TicketSource

18 Mar 2014

Meet the Cast & Crew: James McAnespy as Brian/Lory (also the writer!) [Edited]

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be profiling the cast and crew of the C.L.G. / Sitting up for Michael Double Bill.

Edit: Due to cast changes, James is now playing the role of Brian in Sitting Up for Michael. Stay tuned for updates on the beard he'll be donning for the role!


James McAnespy is the artistic director of King's Fool Productions, which he founded in Belfast in 2011. The company's first major project was the debut run of Sitting Up for Michael, which toured across the north of Ireland in 2012, playing to hugely appreciative audiences that averaged over 100 per night. He has not relocated himself and the company to London and will be reviving 'SUFM' with a brand new play, C.L.G., which debuts in the White Bear Theatre.
James McAnespy launching King's Fool Productions in 2011
As an actor, James has enjoyed the limelight as the lead role in a vast array of productions in Belfast. In 2010, his first major stage performance was the top billed role in the Irish premier of Arthur Miller's tense holocaust drama, Incident at Vichy. His performance attracted rave reviews, with The Virtual Methodist singling him out as "the stand-out performance."

He continued this rich vein of form through 2011, with lead roles in performances of Stumpergasse 31 (where he played a young Adolf Hitler) and Robots in Disguise, with TheatreWatch lauding "suave, spiteful little lucifer of a character [who] was horrifically believable".
He also made his screen debut in Éalú, playing the role of the true-life criminal Sean Bourke, who masterminded a communist prison break from Wormwood scrubs. Also that year, he debuted as the voice of UTV Weather's sponsors, Progressive Building Society, reaching half a million people on a nightly basis.


James McAnespy as Rory in the 2012 run of Sitting Up for Michael
In 2012, as well as acting in the hugely popular run of Sitting Up for Michael, he performed in The Odd Couple at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and was co-lead in the premier of Dave Kinghan's claustrophobic art drama, Intervention at the Pick N Mix festival at Belfast's world-class MAC.

In 2013, he established himself in London and across Britain with his recurring role as Dougal in Laughlines' Father Ted tribute show, Ted & Co, selling out months ahead of production.

C.L.G./Sitting Up for Michael Double Bill is debuting in the White Bear Theatre, London from April 8-27. Tickets are on sale now from www.whitebeartheatre.co.uk

11 Mar 2014

Drafting away...



C.L.G./Sitting Up for Michael Double Bill is debuting in the White Bear Theatre, London from April 8-27. Tickets are on sale now from www.whitebeartheatre.co.uk

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.

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.

7 Nov 2011

King's Fool Productions

King's Fool Productions has been taking up the bulk of my time recently, so these pastures have been left untended recently. Not to worry, when the launch has taken place later this month full service will be resumed.

King's Fool is my new production company, and I have been working away trying to book venues for Sitting Up for Michael, a full professional production which will be touring in Summer 2012.

Head over to the website, designed by Alex McCooke, or Like the Facebook Page for further updates.

Also, don't forget, ...Michael is getting his stage debut in the Ulster Hall on November 16, in a rehearsed reading by Accidental Theatre. The cast is set in place, with a variety of people I've worked with before (Ed Boyd, Chris McCurry, Charmaine McBride) as well as some new faces (Francis Mezza, Victoria Gleason, Chris Grant and Mary Lindsay) and the director is Helen Donnelly, another artist who I haven't had the pleasure of working with yet, but having spoke to her about the play, I'm confident she will do a brilliant job.

20 Jul 2011

Performing in the Ulster Hall with Accidental Theatre

Tonight I'll be appearing in the Ulster Hall (Group Room) as a cast member of Robots in Disguise, the first of the Biscuit Tin Readings. Rehearsals have been ongoing since Saturday, with a great cast of Ed Boyd, Emma Little, Kim Moylan and Chris McCurry, and Emily DeDakis reading stage directions, with Gayle Dennison directing. It's always great fun working with Accidental, as they have that unneutered enthusiasm of a young company that generates such great energy and creativity.

The play, by Mike Coleman, is about the toxic effect of top down government interference on people's every day live. I play Howard Chubb, the slimy weasel tasked with auditing the Smith famliy.

The entry is free, and will be a great opening to the program, which will go right through summer, finishing with my own Sitting Up For Michael, in November.

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 May 2011

Playboy of the Western World, Undisclosed, Progressive Building Society and Generous Bank!

This Friday and Saturday, May 13th and 14th sees the performance in my second run of Playboy of the Western World, this time playing the patriarchal Michael James at the Crescent Arts Centre. The production has been an exercise in sheer efficiency, as we only started rehearsing in earnest last week. The cast and crew, all from Queen's University Players have been fantastic and have brought real life to the piece in an incredibly short amount of time. Colm Doran is directing with help from Rory Knox, Alex Stone, Simon Welch and Adam Turns in the production team. Thomas Finnegan is the title role as Christy , Christina Martin, who I directed in Fast & Loose V, plays Pegeen, Anton Thompson-McCormick is the cowardly Shaun Keogh, Nuala Donnelly is hilarious as Widow Quinn, Terry McCartan plays the drunken letch, Jimmy Farrell, James Maguire courageously stepped in at the last minute to portray Old Mahon and the three girls are played with dynamism by Shauny Shields, Vicki Mohan and Sarah McLaughlin. This is probably my favourite play, so I can't wait to get to play it for another audience. Tickets are on sale from The Crescent's website for £5.

Next week, I have a small part in an upcoming BBC drama, Undisclosed. Starring Life On Mars' Philip Glenister, I'll be playing a prison admin officer who delivers bad news to the protagonist. Although this is only a small part, it'll be a great experience to be able to work among some of the best actors around, and every step on the ladder is a good one, so I'm looking forward to being on set.

Also, if you have been watching UTV Weather in the last week or so, you'll have heard a familiar voice in the advertising wraparounds for Progressive Building Society. Listen out at about 6:25 this evening, just before the mercurial Frank Mitchell announces where the Weather-Watching Camera was today!

Finally, I have been confirmed to be part of Red Lemon's Pick n Mix show, The Generous Bank. Pick n Mix is basically an industry showcase for theatre in Belfast, so to be involved is an incredible opportunity, and one I intend to grasp with both hands.

12 Mar 2011

Filmed TG4 show, Éalú, in Armagh and Vichy performance

This week I was in Armagh Prison filming Éalú with Magamedia for TG4. Éalú is a documentary series focused on famous prison breaks, with actors providing visuals to accompany interviews.

I was playing the role of Sean Bourke, a political activist who planned and executed the escape of George Blake, a Soviet double agent who was incarcerated in Wormwood Scrubs prison. Their plan was ingenious, involving a rope ladder reinforced with knitting needles, forged documents, uninhibited derring-do and a walkie-talkie hidden in a pot plant.

Bourke was a live wire character, being imprisoned for mailing letter bombs to senior police officers, and having difficulty dealing with a drinking problem.

The other main actors were Shane Morgan and Mark Byatt and we were improvising scenes throughout the two shooting days. They were great actors and it is always great to be working off such great performers.

Part of the escape plan involved me making a quick escape in a vintage Ford Prefect, which was great except I had only one driving lesson in my entire life! It took about seven takes, but we eventually got the shot and I got invaluable driving experience!

Overall it was an incredible experience and to date the most significant screen work I have done. I can't wait to see it completed.

Now I go from one performance to a completely different one as Fringe Benefits revives Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy in the Belfast Synagogue (The Wolfson Centre) tomorrow and Monday nights (13th and 14th March). These will be the last time I perform as the downtrodden artist Lebeau, which will hurt since he has been a part of my life for nearly a year now. The production has really kicked into gear, and the adrenaline rush the actors will get from performing in front of a Jewish crowd will spur the production into greatness, I am certain.

It is free and starts at 7pm, so it'll be first come first served so take the opportunity to see this show while you can.

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.

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.