Next Up

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

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 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!

21 Oct 2010

The 39 Steps has sold out!

The next show I'm in, The 39 Steps, with Wireless Mystery Theatre, part of Belfast Fringe Festival has officially sold out - two days before the performance.

[caption id="attachment_368" align="alignleft" width="484" caption="Poster for Wireless Mystery Theatre's The 39 Steps"][/caption]

I went in to No Alibis to buy tickets for family members, and was informed that after my purchase, there were only five tickets remaining, of which two were instantly sold in front of me, and my friend informed me she had bought the final three.

This is a great (and just) reward for all the work Aislinn Clarke and everyone else has put into the show, and will keep us on our toes for the performance on Friday night.

The whole Fringe Festival is creating a great buzz around the city, and it's just a pity that resources forced organisers, Peter Quigley and his crew, to keep it within 3 days, and 20 venues. No doubt next year the Fringe will be huge, and will be threatening the main festival for punters' attention within the next few years.

I am volunteering in some of the other events, and will of course be attending as many of the rest as I can, which I will write about at some stage next week. This weekend is going to be hectic, going from performance to volunteering almost non-stop, but I can't wait for it.

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

12 Oct 2010

Incident at Vichy promotional photos

Rehearsals have been ongoing for Incident at Vichy, and we are really tearing into fifth gear now as the countdown to the 4th November intensifies.

Recently we had a professional photographer in to take promotional shots of us in character, and here are some of the results.

[caption id="attachment_351" align="alignleft" width="267" caption="Michael Burkes (dark coat), Matt Faris (front), Brian Kennedy (grey coat)"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_349" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Partial cast of Incident at Vichy"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_350" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Myself, as the cowardly artist, Lebeau"][/caption]

7 Oct 2010

Performing in Accidental Theatre's Fast & Loose program

I am teaming up with Accidental Theatre again for their inaugural Fast & Loose program. It is going to a chaotic staging of a short play that will have been conceived a mere 24 hours prior.

Working in conjunction with The Queen's University Players, and being performed as part of the Queen's Quarter Weekends - an initiative to promote the cultural value of the unique area of South Belfast that surrounds the University - the project is the brainchild of Accidental's dramaturg, Emily De Dakis.

I am doing my play with Jack Geary, who I have been working with on The 39 Steps as well as Incident at Vichy, so I have a good working relationship with him.

It's being performed this Saturday evening in The Space in the Queen's Student's Union building, so come along and see four plays for a measly £3 (or £2 for QU Players members, or with a Romeo and Juliet ticket stub).

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 .

22 Sep 2010

The 39 Steps to be performed at Belfast Fringe Festival

It has just been announced that Wireless Mystery Theatre's adaptation of Orson Welles' The 39 Steps has been picked up to be performed as part of the first ever Belfast Fringe Festival.

The show went down a storm when it played in the Chillifest this month, with the performance tent overflowing with viewer, and the good word that spread from the performance was what inspired the organisers to book us.

It will be performed in No Alibis Book Store, Botanic Avenue on October 22nd, with tickets available now at £5.

As mentioned above, this is the first Belfast Fringe, but I'm sure that with the good organisation that has been evident so far, it could be on a par with Edinburgh in the decades to come.

9 Sep 2010

Performance of The 39 Steps this Saturday

This Saturday will see the premiere performance of Wireless Mystery Theatre's adaptation of The 39 Steps by Orson Welles. The show is presented to the audience as if they were in the audience for the original recording of the play by Orson Welles and his cast in 1939.

We have had a dress rehearsal in full period costume, and will be having a tech rehearsal in the No Alibis Book Tent on Saturday.

This is a really exciting project, so congratulations must go to Aislinn Clarke for bringing this eccentric idea to fruition.

The performance is at 3pm in Custom House Square, as part of the ongoing Open House Festival and Chillifest. Tickets are £5 (children free) to get in to the Chillifest, and the No Alibis Book Tent is free to enter once your in.

I look forward to performing this, and can't wait to see you there.

6 Sep 2010

Pictures from the Edinburgh Festival

Here are some of the pictures of us performing Steven Berkoff's Lunch at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - a show which those who seen it described as "the best two-hander I have seen at the festival."

[caption id="attachment_304" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="James McAnespy onstage in Stephen Berkoff's Lunch"][/caption][caption id="attachment_303" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="James McAnespy and Caroline Brennan onstage in Stephen Berkoff's Lunch"][/caption][caption id="attachment_302" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="James McAnespy and Caroline Brennan onstage in Stephen Berkoff's Lunch"][/caption][caption id="attachment_301" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="James McAnespy and Caroline Brennan doing street performances of Stephen Berkoff's Lunch"][/caption][caption id="attachment_300" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="James McAnespy and Caroline Brennan onstage in Stephen Berkoff's Lunch"][/caption]James McAnespy and Caroline Brennan onstage in Stephen Berkoff's Lunch

24 Aug 2010

It's all go here in Edinburgh

I am currently writing in the inkling of free time I have available to me in the bustling vibrancy of Edinburgh.

We had our first show yesterday, and even with an intimate audience, the show went down a storm, and it was incredibly liberating to get the first show under our belts.

With more time for flyering available to us now that the props, staging and tech is all sorted, the audience will grow exponentially from now until the end of the week.

I also got to finally meet the cast of the other show, Twelfth Night by 2, Aleda Bliss and Rosa Palmeri, and managed to attend their late night show. It was a frantic telling of the Bard's comedy, with them playing all of the characters by jumping in and out of costume between lines! It was incredible and a testament to their skills that they made this complicated, multi-character play easy to follow in these circumstances.

I have my eyes on a few shows that I'm going to try to see during the week, and hopefully meet some intriguing and interesting artists that I will work with in the future.

21 Aug 2010

Preparing to Leave for the Edinburgh Festival

I am currently gearing up to leave for Edinburgh. It's an early flight in the morning, and a hectic day tomorrow, checking in to my new apartment and leafletting like my life depended on it.
In case your in Edinburgh next week, the show is in the GRV (37 Guthrie Street) from Monday to Sunday at 3pm.

Also on our bill is Twelfth Night by Two, which is two young American actresses playing Shakespeare's comedy all by themselves, which I'm reliably informed is truly enthralling, that's the late show in the same venue.

Not forgetting my other performances coming up soon. On the 11th September (no longer the 8th), is The 39 Steps, which is coming along swimmingly, with the commercials now being rehearsed. This will be a unique experience for the audience - they will be transferred back in time to the 30s, and will watch Orson Welles in all his glory directing this thrilling radio play. Come along to it in the Custom House Square as part of the Open House Festival/Chillifest.

Also on the horizon is Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy. Rehearsals have been going strong for a while now, and getting all the cast together really portrays the scale of the production - 18 characters, all male.

There are also plans afoot to take all of these performances for further performances in different venues than they are currently scheduled for, which I will let you know about as they come to pass.

I intend to post again from Edinburgh at least once to give an account of how things are going over there, not least to recount my experiences at my first Edinburgh Festival. This is an exciting few weeks coming up for me, and I intend to make the most of them.

3 Aug 2010

Press Release: MAGNETIC Theatre Company to play at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Belfast's Magnetic Theatre Company are gearing up to perform their debut show, Steven Berkoff's Lunch, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Produced by impresario David Mann and starring up-and-coming actors Caroline Brennan from Castlewellan and James McAnespy from Omagh, the play is an exploration into relationship between two people who meet on a beach during their lunch break, through Berkoff's acerbic eyes.

James McAnespy has told how he looks forward to the challenge of taking Berkoff to the stage.

"Berkoff's work is designed to challenge the audience, so the performances have to match the pitch and tone of the source material, or else the impact will be lost.

"His writing is never simple - every word has its own significance, which creates many layers of character and subplot.

"That is why this play has been the biggest challenge of my career so far.

"This will be my first time at the Fringe, so I'm thrilled to be able to experience it from both sides of the 'fourth wall'."

The play is being performed from the 23-29 August in the GRV at 3pm. Tickets, priced at £5 can be purchased at the door.

James can be contacted further via me@jamesmcanespy.co.uk, or via his web site www.jamesmcanespy.co.uk

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.

Performance of Some Kind of Stranger tonight

Tonight is the performance of William Patterson's Some kind of Stranger at Blick Studios. It is part of Accidental Theatre's VI series of rehearsed readings and, as with the others, it is directed by Richard Lavery.


The cast is young, and I have worked with a couple before on the last reading: Christine Clare, Helen Ashton, Chloe Fox, Cormac Brown, Dan Leith, with Emily de Dakis reading.

I am really looking forward to it, because the script is really solid, and the rehearsals have been fun.

The event is free, so if you are searching for something different to do tonight, come down to the Blick for a night of new theatre.

16 Jun 2010

Role in Wireless Mystery Theatre confirmed

Today I got confirmation that i am playing several roles in the Wireless Mystery Theatre's production of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps.



This is an intriguing project, the brain child of Aislinn Clarke, a fellow presenter on Blast 106, where audience's experience is that the performance of the script is taking place live for the first time, as if they were transported back to the thirties to the original Orson Welles recording.

The performance is scheduled for Wednesday 8th September, in the No Alibi's Bookstore on Botanic Avenue, Belfast, as part of* the Open House Festival. (Incidentally, Modest Mouse, my favourite band, are also playing at the festival, so I am sharing a listing with the mighty Mouse - long may it continue).



Like I said, this is an intriguing project, and the fact that it's a radio play means I can overlap my commitment to Vichy, due to there being no lines to learn, so I can't wait.

Update: Aislinn has got in contact to let me know that we are performing in the Open House Festival, not No Alibi’s in September. We are performing at No Alibi’s on a different date, both to be confirmed.