Next Up

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

29 Mar 2014

Sitting Up for Michael rehearsal photos

Janette McManus, Paul Christian Rogers, James McAnespy
Janette McManus
Paul Christian Rogers, Peter Dineen, Fintan Dineen

Sharron Byrne, James McAnespy

Sharron Byrne, James McAnespy

Sharron Byrne, James McAnespy

Emma Spence, Fintan Dineen, James McAnespy

Janette McManus, Paul Christian Rogers

James McAnespy

The full cast of Sitting Up for Michael

The full cast of Sitting Up for Michael

Janette McManus, Paul Christian Rogers, Emma Spence, Sharron Byrne, James McAnespy

Director Alex Howarth

Emma Spence, Sharron Byrne

Janette McManus, James McAnespy, Sharron Byrne, Peter Dineen

Fintan Dineen, James McAnespy

Peter Dineen, James McAnespy

Paul Christian Rogers, James McAnespy, Peter Dineen, Sharron Byrne

Laura Duffy took these fantastic rehearsal pictures of Sitting Up for Michael, featuring our entire cast and director, Alex Howarth.

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.

8 Jun 2012

The Odd Couple, Sitting Up for Michael tour and Pick N Mix

Well, I've had such a hectic month - three plays in 30 days - that I haven't been able to find space to write here about it.

First, I was in the brilliant Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival as part of Skewiff Theatre's production of Neil Simon's classic, The Odd Couple. Alongside the not inconsiderable talent of Joe Lindsay, Morgan Hearst, Christian Winterman (nee Jackson), Griffin Madill, Moninne Dargan and Emma McErlean we packed out the Dark Horse bar - a testament to the talent of director Mary Lindsay.



Then, within three days of finishing that my own company King's Fool Productions finally brought Sitting Up for Michael to the stage. I've been writing ...Michael for the guts of two years now, and to see it finally on it's feet in front of a paying audience is a hugely gratifying experience. Helen Donnelly resumed directorship after skippering the rehearsed reading that Accidental organised in November 2011. The cast, including Marianne March, Naomi Rocke, Cathy Brennan-Bradley, Benjamin Gould, Brian Patrick Kennedy and Michael O'Sullivan were sourced from across Ireland and worked exceptionally hard to bring my vision to fruition, and I can't thank them enough. With a backstage crew of Glenn Hamill (stage manager), Kerrie Milford (props/costumes), Shireen Azarmi (sound/tech) and Sharon Curran (production manager) we couldn't fail to put on a top class production. The play debuted in The Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, before travelling down to The Strule Arts Centre, Omagh last week and tonight will conclude its tour in The Alley Theatre, Strabane. So far over 300 people have seen the show, so an extended tour in the near future may be on the cards!



Also, tomorrow (one day after ...Michael concludes - see not a moment to breathe!) I am in Accidental's production of Intervention, by Dave Kinghan. This thriller, set entirely within a tiny cell tells the story of two guerrilla performance artists who must try to figure out why they have been put there. This is the first full Accidental production I have been involved in, after working with them over the last few years on their rehearsed readings programme. It's great to be working with director Richard Lavery again, and with a three person cast made up of myself, Miche Doherty and Matt Faris, Accidental live up to their reputation as one of the leading emerging theatre companies in Belfast, and they are going to light up The Mac's Pick N Mix festival.

So as we go hurtling in to summer, I might have a chance to take a breather and watch some football - although not much by the looks of things!