Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meet The Detectives...

A series of splendidly designed and expertly photographed profiles for the main detectives of Vultures have just gone online. And about time as well. We've spent the past few months updating all the supporting character profiles, accidentally neglecting the shit out of our central characters in the process. They've kept the same dull, drab pages we'd initially flung up for them in 2007. Well, no more!

Ross took a great bunch of photos in front of our lovely office and Paddy went off and used his expert Photoshopping on them. So here they are. The gentlemen detectives of V.P.I finally in full technicolour glory:

DAN MCGRAIN (David Thompson)

Meet this well groomed, moustachioed, lady fearing, wooly hatted, most gentlemanly of detectives at http://www.vulturespi.com/McGrain.html

JIM VULTOUR (This is me with glasses on my face)

Meet this confused, mumbling, scruffy, dazed, chain smoking, clouded up deductive mind at http://www.vulturespi.com/Vultour.html


Meet this polite, dog loving, well fragranced, accident prone, most professional of investigators at http://www.vulturespi.com/Tennyson.html

There's good reading in them. They might have caused us a shitload of problems with retroactive continuity but damn it, there's good reading.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Say No To Pinkertons!

We've just launched an anti Pinkerton campaign online at www.VulturesPI.com.

There you will find a very informative video presentation which tells you everything you need to know about the Pinkertons in a fair and balanced manner.

If you're interested in finding out more about these Pinkerton scumbags then do check out www.Pinkertons.ie.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blade or Blouse... something like that.

Her name is Natalie Blaise. Why are villains always the most fun to write?

Monday, December 8, 2008

'The Case Of The Poisoned Dates' wraps up

We wrapped shooting yesterday on the latest installment of our comic web serial Vultures. A cold, frosty but charmingly sunny Sunday morning saw our final scene for Episode 4 wrapped. Last night also saw us do some secretive shooting for Episode 6 and with that, shooting on Vultures for 2008 concludes. No rest for the wicked though. Not a hope.

We'll be spending the rest of the year getting 'The Case Of The Poisoned Dates' ready for a January online bow and we'll also be getting ourselves geared up for shooting Episodes 5 & 6 in January, when we have nothing better to do but stand around outside in the cold with cameras. More information on those 2 episodes will be following along soon.

'The Case Of The Poisoned Dates' has been abbreviated as thus:

"The fourth episode of our escapades will see the arrival in the V.P.I. offices of a TY student on work experience. Her name is Janine Drew and she is brash, ambitious and what in social circles is known as a 'chav.' Her appointment coincides with a series of errant romantic entanglements that degenerate into a potential powderkeg of social embarrassment and extreme violence."

The shoot for Episode 4 was a blast, partially due to a well spaced schedule and enthusiastic cast. But mostly down to having Ross Costigan working as director on this one. Ross is well familiar with Vultures at this stage so he knew the whole concept inside out and having sat around for so long and watched years of plays and films being filmed, he was chomping at the bit to get behind the camera and shout at us. After a couple of early hiccups on the shoot (namely freezing, ice rain) it picked up the pace and we've ended up with the best Vultures material so far. For me, it was great to be able to focus on work in front of the camera with Ross there manning the decks. He brought a fantastic commitment, focus and professionalism to the shoot and for the first time I felt as if I had someone on set who I could work with to push the boundaries of how the show looked and he brought out the best in everyone on set. Alan really upped his game as well and it's resulted in a really lovely looking episode which I have to give the lads all props for. The visual aspect of Vultures has suffered tremendously in the first 3 episodes due to not having the required crew to really achieve what we needed but with Ross full time behind the camera with Alan, the two of them really brought it to a level where it looks, yes, like a sitcom!

So, the editing process is kicking off this week and I really can't wait to get tuck into it in the knowledge that we've got coverage... lots of coverage. The shoot for 4 has me revved up for the shoot for Episodes 5 & 6, it's going to be hard, no doubt about that, but myself and Ross have a good handle on how to shoot it and Alan will take care of the production side of it. Scripting is near completed on both episodes (more of which later) so things are looking good on the entire Vultures wrap front.

Once there's a date set for it (no pun intended) then it'll be announced with mild fanfare and the crippling pressure of impending deadlines. It's how we work best, see. High blood pressure here we come!

www.VulturesPI.com is newly updated so check it out. All the photos on it (and here) are taken by the aforementioned Costigan ladchap and more of his work is available for visual perusal at his website www.Oss237.com

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How Shall We Fuck Off O Lord?

The first play I ever performed in was Monty Python's The Life Of Brian by Dreamstuff Youth Theatre when I was a mere pup of 17. This was back in 2000 as part of a very exciting initiative launched by Mike Kelly of Young Irish Film Makers and it was called Dreamstuff Youth Theatre. At the time, there were no outlets for young actors in Kilkenny to get experience or even just have the social interaction of hanging out with a bunch of like minded youngsters. And I can't describe how exciting for me, that the very first thing I'd get to act in was a production of a Monty Python film. And not just that but my favourite Monty Python film to boot! At the time, it was just the coolest thing in the world and so it proved when we performed it in the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from January 23rd to 26th 2001. And people came!

From there Dreamstuff Youth Theatre prospered and I got to act in a further 12 plays for them over the next 7 years and I also got invaluable experience in acting, writing, costumes and all manner of theatre work. It was the best possible education for someone who wanted to get into acting and without it, I wouldn't have been in any position to pursue theatre as a career. I still remember the looks on my fellow classmates faces on the first day of college when I got to recount all the theatre stuff I'd worked on in 2 years. I just hadn't realised how rare something like Dreamstuff is. They'd just been stuck doing the dog in some school version of Annie or in the Billy Barry kids, that sort of terrifying thing.

In my opinion, a really solid youth theatre is a better learning curve than any amount of colleges or training. The purest way to learn is by just doing. And from that first young, spotty crew on The Life Of Brian came the foundations of Devious Theatre as we have them today. Devious Theatre members Ken McGuire (as the titular character), David Thompson (The Virgin Mandy/Ben), Kevin Mooney (Biggus Dickus), Amy Dunne (Judith), Hazel Fahy (Mrs. Gregory), Sean Hackett (The Young Roman) and Dave Minogue (Ex-Leper/Harry The Haggler) all got our starts with The Life of Brian. I played the parts of First Wise Man, Francis the Revolutionary and Otto The Nazirene. We were all in the throes of puberty then, like so:

And so, it's with this whimsical and anecdotal rabble that I come to my point. Dreamstuff Youth Theatre are presenting the second coming of The Life Of Brian next week from Tuesday 9th to Saturday 13th of December in the Watergate Theatre. Further cementing my worrying reputation as the Peter Pan/Michael Jackson of Kilkenny youth theatre, I'm making a brief appearance in the play as Jesus The Christ, giving the Sermon on the Mount from the Watergate balcony. Finally, I get to play Christ! Flagellation here I come!

I've been up at rehearsals over the past 2 weeks and the production is looking great. There's a fantastic crew of young actors working on it (special mention for Peter O'Connor's Brian. This guy is the most exciting young actor in Kilkenny right now.) and I don't mind admitting that I've got one eye on the future new blood that can be pumped into the veins of Devious Theatre in a few years. It's going to be a great show and old man Mike Kelly is directing again with the same amount of aplomb and flair and cursing as he had in 2000. Their sets, costumes and programme also beat the hell out of ours. That's progression, right? Bastards.

And long may Dreamstuff Youth Theatre give Kilkenny youngsters the opportunities to work, rest and play in a fantastic theatrical wonderland after the drudgery of the school day. And of course, look at other young lads and young ones. Sex, sex, sex, it's all they think about.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meet Janine Drew

The promotion for Vultures Episode 4 'The Case Of The Poisoned Dates' is kicking into gear and here's the first new character to take a bow. Plus she's got an introductory trailer to boot. Please meet:


Straight from www.VulturesPI.com is the lowdown:

'As our latest installment ‘The Case Of The Poisoned Dates’ looms into view, we’d like you to become acquainted with the newest member of the V.P.I. workforce, 16 year old Transition Year student Janine Drew. An ambitious young go getter she certainly is. Not to mention that she is what is known in cultural circles as ‘a chav.’ She will be doing her 2 weeks work experience in the cluttered offices of Vulture Private Investigations and no doubt, she will get up to all manner of merriment.'

You can check out her profile page at the Episode 4 section of the Vultures website.

And here's her trailer:


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The War Of The Worlds goes podcast

Our radio production of HG Wells' The War of The Worlds is going online on November 30th for anyone who was so freaked out and so disturbed by the October 30th broadcast on KCLR96FM that they just couldn't bear to listen. Or, eh, if people just missed it.

It goes online on November 30th at 8pm and can be downloaded as a podcast straight from the website, www.devioustheatre.com

Monday, November 17, 2008

All Hell's A Coming...

"Men on bicycles, said Collins. - That's what I need. Good men on bicycles.
- I don't have one, I told him.
- I'm only after buying you the suit, he said. - So you can manage the fuckin' rothar yourself."

- A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle

In 1920 Michael Collins set up a covert group of hitmen who's sole job was to track down and kill English G-Men and spies during the Irish War Of Independence. These unknown men were referred to as 'The Squad.'

I'm currently lining up my first post Vultures writing assignment and it's going to be a feature screenplay, the first one I've worked on in over 2 years.

I've been working on a variety of different projects over the past few years and the vast majority of them have always had a deadline in place so it's always been an eyes on the prize, get down and do it kind of mentality. So once Vultures is in the can, I'd like to turn to something that I can write at a leisurely pace without any consideration of deadlines or budgets or logistics.

I haven't written a screenplay since Suckers in 2006 and I've never written a feature that hasn't been produced by Young Irish Film Makers. Screenplays were the first things I'd ever wrote and the first things I'd taught myself how to write. As a 14 year old I'd grab any screenplays I could, studying the structure and copying the formatting in order to teach myself how to write movies. It was my first love in writing and it's pretty much remained so. With Y.I.F.M I got the chance to write 5 features between 2001 and 2006 (Skegs and Skangers, the unproduced Holy Terrors, Lily's Bad Day, Eliza Mayflower and Suckers). I was lucky in a way because no one else up there was writing screenplays so the path was usually clear for me to submit stuff and make all the mistakes I needed to learn from. But the biggest stroke of luck was that a whippersnapper such as myself got the opportunity to do so.

So now the first project I'm working on of my own steam is hopefully going to get rid of my screenwriting rust and allow me to indulge in something extremely cinematic. Frankly, I can't wait to get back into it.

It's also the first time I've co-written a screenplay with someone so it's going to be a new experience all round. Working with Paddy Dunne on Vultures has just been invaluable in terms of honing and developing material, not to mention the fact that the inherent loneliness of the writer is made all the easier when there's someone else with you. This time I'm working with a very fine writer and actor by the name of Peter McGann who appears in Vultures as student lawyer Matt McLoughlin.

The feature is a comic actioner called The Hellfire Squad. And yup, it's based on the origins of the 12 men who made up Michael Collins hit squad during the War Of Independence. We have our characters mapped out and a treatment in place so I'm looking forward to tucking into it come next spring. Right now, it's research time. And after Bansheeville, I'm again getting to indulge my love for Irish history.

And when will The Hellfire Squad see the light of day? Who knows? And right now, that's the way uh huh uh huh I like it. Uh huh uh huh.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Mystery Of The Night Time Refuse

After a long night in the studio finishing the sound mix, Vultures Episode 3 'The Mystery Of The Night Time Refuse' is pretty much done, bar the few teensy bits of tidy ups here and there.

I'm quite proud of it I have to admit. I guess the overall ojective with this episode was to show people that we were getting better technically, that there was a long term story plan in place (aka not making this shit up as we go along) and that we could deliver consistent laughs with a solid story and interesting characters. And I think on those terms, we've succeeded. There are obviously going to be qualms. And I got plenty of them! Which is par for the course when you have a budget that comes in under 200EURO! Considering the scope and ambition and sheer naivety we had going into this project I'd still really love to see what we could achieve with substantial funding. But hey, that's a story for another day.

As it is, we've got a lot of people working really hard on this project and everyone is so damn dedicated. Which really is the heartening thing, when you've got actors and crew who not only enjoy working on a project but actively look forward to it. And hey, they're doing it all for free too!

So yes, Vultures is definitely a labour of love and without doubt the biggest creative undertaking I've ever taken on in my life. And at the end, if I can stand proudly by 6 episodes of something that, with my friends and allies, had blood, sweat and tears poured into it, then yup, I'll be a very satisfied mind indeed.

As it is, we don't know how this episode is going to be received, we don't know if more people will be attracted to the project, we don't know if it will work. All we can do is have faith and plug on regardless. Episode 4 is currently filming and it's been going great guns so far. So all we gotta do is keeping working hard (for free, yes) and try and somehow find the time to finish off Vultures in 2009. Fingers crossed.

We're trying to use the trendy buzz phrase 'webcom' as much as possible too. Use it! Use it! It's great and it's trendy. And also, we're sick of people saying 'Oh, isn't a sitcom supposed to be just half an hour?' and we'll get flustered and make lame excuses. But now, now we've got an answer and it's this: 'Webcoms are 40 minutes stupid!'. That'll put the shoe on the other foot.

Episode 5 & 6 are currently undergoing their drafting process. It's weird having planned a story arc for nearly 2 years to finally see it coming into shape. It's making me and Paddy feel kind of JK Rowling-ish. And yes, everybody dies. And there's a bit with a house elf.

All I'll say is this, we couldn't have picked a better time in Irish history for our long planned storyline to fall. If it gets labelled 'The Recession Sitcom' then I'll be a happy man.

Sorry, sorry, webcom, yeah, yeah, webcom, yeah...

Vultures Episode 3 goes online Sunday November 9th exclusively on www.VulturesPI.com

All photos here are by Ross Costigan of www.oss237.com and the title card was designed by Paddy Dunne who really should have his own website but just doesn't.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mars Attacks!

The launch of Devious Theatre's production of The War Of The Worlds is tonight!

The show has been finished, polished and covered in red weed in anticipation of it’s airing at 9pm on KCLR96FM and KCLR96FM.com.

It’s been a fantastic couple of months working on this project and for us, it’s opened up a whole new world of theatre. Radio theatre is a whole different discipline as I wrote earlier and it's something I want to indulge in more. It takes it right back to the spoken word and solely the spoken word. Exactly where all our great stories came from, aptly enough.

I hope that the production will go someway towards creating the sense of excitement and imagination that people had years ago as they huddled by their radiosets for all their entertainment. So if we can attract families, couples, the elderley, adults and kids alike and get them sitting in on a cold wintery night listening to the ol’ wireless, then we’ll be satisfied we’ve done our job. It’ll be even better if they descend into crazed hysteria and run out into the elements screaming of Martians. Orson Welles would be proud.

For my part, the writing process was a joy, the recording process was a true pleasure and I giddily look forward to sitting down tomorrow night to see the fine storytelling unfold, aided by a fine cast and a damn talented producer in Alan Dawson.

The last of the publicity material has gone out, Ross and Ken hit our hosts at KCLR96FM today for an interview and yes, the skies are definitely our enemy at the moment. So it must be said: the citizens of Carlow and Kilkenny have been given due warning.

We hope you’ll tune in tonight for our debut radio broadcast on KCLR96FM and of course, KCLR96FM.com. And remember, it’s only entertainment… just keep watching the skies. Happy Halloween.

Photos by oss237.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

Welcome To Bansheeville

I've just finished work on the first draft of Bansheeville, the first play I've been commissioned to write.

I started work on it back in June and it's been a great experience, especially when you're working within the parameters of deadlines and being able to get top notch professional feedback too. Priceless learning curve.

After Heart Shaped Vinyl and Smitten, I was a bit nervous that my third play was a children's play and would I be able to write something that wasn't monologue heavy and full of foul language? But yeah, I think getting out of any comfort zones I had started to get into as a writer was the best thing for me at this stage of my writing life. Children are a very specific audience, not to mention a demanding one, so you really need to make sure that you're telling a really good story that they can connect with. It didn't take me long to realise that having written for Dreamstuff Youth Theatre for so long and worked as an actor with Barnstorm Theatre Company had given me such good experience in terms of seeing what works for younger audiences and I was able to apply this to Bansheeville.

I've had ideas for a banshee centred story for a long time and I never knew which form it would take but I think a children's play is the ideal way to tell it. I've always had this weird slightly morbid obsession with banshees ever since I was a child. It started with all those old stories you hear, grandmothers stories about these old Irish myths and the banshee was the one that really stuck in my little head. The idea of this horrible, screaming wailing woman hanging outside windows and warning people that they're gonig to die, is terrifying and as a child you just get entirely freaked out about what could be outside your window at night. Then I got really obsessed with that Disney movie Darby O'Gill and The Little People when I was young because it was full of leprechauns and Irish mythology and it had this flying, wailing banshee in it. Looking at it now, the banshee looks really dodgy with really lame special effects but as a child it just shits you up. The film also features a really young pre-Bond Sean Connery with a dodgy Irish accent and even dodgier singing skills. You really should check it out. For the laugh anyway.

So yeah, this is the banshee story I always wanted to write. It's about a 13 year old banshee called Siona and she hasn't found her scream yet and her hair is too knotty to comb and she lives in a colourful little place called Bansheeville. But even though she can't scream she's forced up into the big bad world because there's a shortage of banshees in Ireland due to the War of Independence. So with her little comb and list of Wailees, she's sent out to go and herald death. Which is obviously going to be hard when you can't scream.

So yeah, the perfect ingredients for a cracking childrens yarn: Death, banshees and the Irish War of Independence.

But to be honest, I think they were the elements that got it commissioned. Because I think people always underestimate children's capacity for subversive material and something like this could potentially connect...either that or I'm spreading my banshee terror to a whole new generation. I'm trying to make it as much of a fairytale as possible because fairytales are such an effective way for a child to be introduced to adult themes like death and sex and growing up and being responsible. Subversive see? So yeah, my inspirations for this are the works of The Brothers Grimm, Angela Carter and Terry Gilliam. So I'm hoping it'll be a nice funny, dark little fable for children. And maybe one day it'll make it up onto a stage. Early days yet anyway. But this is the first stage of the process completed and I'm really hoping to keep moving on with it.

And if you ever see a comb lying on the ground, do not pick it up.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The pen is down on Vultures Episode 4.

Myself and Paddy have been scribbling away on the Vultures scripts the past few weeks and we've just finished Episode 4. Which I can happily and unofficially announce (as there's most likely noone reading) that it's entitled The Case Of The Poisoned Dates. Which is most definitely my favourite Vultures episode title so far, if not the most tenously related to the actual episode. Ah well.

It's going into pre-production from this very week and is shooting from the last week of October to the last week of November. I'm really looking forward to knuckling into this one. After each one, I always end up kicking myself in the shins about something so it makes me want to knuckle into the next one all the more. This episode is being directed by Ross Costigan (big hair, big camera, big www.oss237.com) so it'll be great to step back and let someone else have a crack of the whip on it. I've learned some invaluable lessons as a director on the first 3 but I need the time to catch my breath and get myself into good shape for the back to back Episode 5/6 shoot. Ross has a great visual eye and a first rate natural instinct for comedy so there's noone better to take custody of the baby for a while.

All manner of official announcements and the like will be oncoming soon. But do check out the website because it's still looking mightily pretty.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Good evening ladies and gentlemen...

We've been hard at the recording of our 70th anniversary version of The War Of The Worlds the past week or so and we're just about complete. Our trips into the studio have already started to pay dividends though and the first of 6 specially produced radio and web adverts for the production has just went online at our website www.devioustheatre.com and they're also going to be airing on KCLR 96FM from this week too.

They've certainly succeeded in capturing that 'epic' feel that we're looking for in the battle scenes. Our sound designer and producer Alan Dawson likes to go into his lab and tinker away for hours and Christ, the results are really something. We've been laying down vocals all week and we're kind of going 'Ah yeah, that seemed okay. Was that alright?' and everyone else is like 'Ah yeah.' but you know, just know, that it's going to go through the magic Daw sound filter machine and it's gonna come out on the other end sounding, well, epic. Wellesian even.

The recording process so far has seen Kev, Ross, Ken, Daw and myself spending long, long hours in the studio, drinking ridiculous amounts of tea, copious amounts of biscuits and chain smoking stupid amount of fags. It's been really intensive and a good working experience for us. From the get go, we approached this project as a group... there's no Welles in our midst y'know? And we've tackled it as a group. Everyone is concise with direction and we've all been on the same page. As I mentioned in an earlier post, like excited kids getting to play in the classic sci-fi section of toy store. The sense of glee when we go through ideas for what the sound of a clanking tripod leg might sound like is just comical. Big kids for sure.

It's been a real eye opener for me in terms of radio production. Just being in the booth for a couple of hours and acting to myself, using nothing but vocals and imagination has really blown the dust off me. And to be honest, I was nowhere near prepared well enough vocally for this. I came out of the booth just kicking myself yesterday. The demands of vocal performance are completely different from the physical side, you have to get across so much vocally. Everything. Not just the story itself but the colour, the emotion, the effect of the words, the nuance of it all. It's a hugely demanding process and I have nothing but respect for the performers that can do it daily. I did a radio production of The Tain a couple of years back and I remember really preparing the shit out of it and working very hard on the craft of vocal work. Suffice to say, it's something I really want to revisit. I haven't focused on vocal performance in a while now and well, as recording The War Of The Worlds has proved, without your voice you're fucked as a performer. Unless...

Alternately, don't be surprised to see Devious Theatre doing Commedia Dell'Arte on the streets of Kilkenny next year. At which point, I'll take off my mask and my tights, turn to everyone else covered in sweat and go 'Jesus lads, I am fucking knackered. Fuck this physical theatre shit.' Time to start brushing up all round methinks.

Watch The Skies. 30.10.08. It's gonna be explosive.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Meet Noah Hennessy and Tom Moriarty

Here's more additions to the character profiles for Vultures. You can check them out on our ever expanding website at www.vulturespi.com. These are 2 character that were introduced in the second episode, 'The Scarlet Lady Vanishes'.


First up is the Italia 90 obsessed, permanently moustached taxi driver / butcher, Noah Hennessy played by Gus McDonagh. He's a man not to be messed with. Especially if you try to strangle his prostitute girlfriend.

Check out his profile at http://www.vulturespi.com/Episode_2.html


Next up is the ever so smooth, well groomed moustache of Isabelle Vultour's slick architecht boyfriend Tom Moriarty as played by Stephen Colfer. A man so slick he makes David Niven look like a hobo.

Learn more about this modern day Casanova at his profile http://www.vulturespi.com/Episode_2.html

Monday, October 6, 2008

The War Of The Worlds - 30.10.08

So after a month of teasing and dropping dates, making a go of a small viral campaign (if it's good enough for the movies) and generally trying to get our wits about us, we launched our upcoming radio production of HG Well's THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. All at the same as we relaunched www.devioustheatre.com with a brand spanking new look and fancy new features and other such bells and whistles.

WOTW is the perfect project for us to launch with as our first foray into radio theatre. It's a classic piece of science fiction, we get to put our own spin on it and indeed, it couldn't be timed more deviously. On 30th October 1938 Orson Welles launched his famous (or infamous) broadcast of the play on C.B.S. and caused what my mother would term as 'absolute fucking ructions.' A lot of people thought his radio broadcast themed account was actually a really Martian invasion of America and fled houses, burnt things and generally caused chaos. In all fairness to Welles, there were liberal sprinklings of disclaimers throughout his famous broadcast. Maybe people were too busy screaming to notice?

So, in a homage to Welles, we're doing our own version, set entirely in the Kilkenny / Carlow region, 70 years to the date of his broadcast. We're doing it radio program style initially but we're branching out to include more elements from the book and try and utilise our modern setting as best we can. Myself and fellow Devious Theatre compadre Kevin Mooney have spent the past month secretely battering out the script for our version. Like a lot of previous adaptations, we've tried to allegorise it a little with references to global warning, Sellafield, immigration and even a little bit of recession. We're trying to keep as close to the novel as possible and not be hokey about it. Martians have such a B-movie cheesy image at times. But not these rampaging fuckers. We've been working on the recording and everything has been a lot of fun so far. And hey, if all goes well a radio play could end up being a permanent yearly fixture for Devious Theatre. So we're going to cross a few fingers on that one.

It's a great opportunity for us to branch out into a different style of theatre. Myself, Kev, Ken and Ross have been giddily excited about it for the past couple of weeks. Like kids in a big radio theatre store, getting to play in the sci-fi classics section. It's also a great opportunity to work on a project outside the summer months too. We were getting a bit of a 'summer company' rep so it's nice to break the cycle we've established since 2006. Break it with some evil red weed, heat rays and killer black smoke.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS will be broadcast on KCLR 96FM on October 30th 2008 at 9pm. It can also be listened to live on KCLR96FM.com. And do make sure to check out the bubbles and sparks at www.devioustheatre.com too. It's fancy.

This is no doubt exactly how we'll look whilst recording. Exactly like that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Meet Jack Street and Sarah Black

We've got more updates on the VULTURES front. Little by little and bit by bit,we're updating the website and this usually means getting through the backlog of material we've built up over the past year or so.

After introducing the new characters for Episode 3, we're now re-introducing the characters from the first two episodes. So, from Episode 1 'The Kris Kringle Konundrum'....


The spiky, snitchy street informant cum pimp wants nothing more than to be legit but it's just his nature to be the dodgiest scumbag ever to open an advent calendar. His profile and pics have been added to the website so check him out at http://www.vulturespi.com/Episode_1.html


Jim Vultour's ex is a downtrodden, usually mild mannered tour guide with a fine line in oversized jumpers and oversized glasses. So at least she had something in common with Vultour. You can also read more about her at http://www.vulturespi.com/Episode_1.html

Episode 2 'The Scarlet Lady Vanishes' had a screening at Podcamp Ireland (http://www.podcampireland.com/) on Saturday. It seemed to go pretty well but Christ, I really hate public speaking. It's a completely different situation than having to pre-learn lines... I'm totally fucked if I ever need to make a wedding speech.

The Smitten Blogs

Smitten was the last play I wrote and it was performed Augst 20th - 23rd in The Barn, Church Lane, Kilkenny. I was happy with how it went but undoubtedly an absolute bag of angsty nerves. It was a weird process in terms of the writing and development of the play but in the end, the crowd seemed to enjoy it so I guess that's what counts. I didn't blog as heavy on this one as I did on Trainspotting (Possibly because I was up to my eyeballs). But anyways, here are my before and after blogs from the week of the show, along with some choice pictures from the production.

BEFORE: Smitten - A Play From Kilkenny

It’s a little bit weird being at this stage of any kind of creative endeavour. The stage where you’ve really worked so long on something and it’s just about to be presented to people and you’re not really sure if its ready or indeed, if it’s much cop. Well, I’m at that stage now with Smitten. I could probably spend years working on it and we would probably love another few weeks of rehearsals but that’s always the way and really, beside the point. It’s opening this week and it’s going to be seen and I hope people like it and it’s all very much out of my hands.

Smitten is a story (or stories) that I’ve had, quite aimlessly, in my head for years and years. Initially, I just wanted to set something specifically in Kilkenny. It’s my hometown and I’ve lived with the place for so long that I just had this desire to put something to paper about the place because I’d love to read stuff set in Kilkenny myself. So, I had all these little stories and they were all random, often interlinked but mostly self contained. And they were all set in Kilkenny. Odd stuff like a story about a lovelorn waitress who had a heart she couldn’t keep in her chest and used to have to chase it all around the place. Or this character who used to turn to ice at the most awkward moments and break into tiny pieces. And there was a guy who could literally read peoples faces and a comedy story set at a funeral and there was a really awkward drug deal that went horribly wrong and all these other bits and pieces of assorted story bric-a-brac. And a lot of the stuff that found its way into the play was there too like angels and sock puppets and the grand romantic gestures. And thematically, really, it was all about being in your 20’s and the preoccupations you have at that time of your life. And of course, these were preoccupations that I had myself so I really wanted to express them in a story. I’d heard this phrase ‘Your teens are your body’s puberty but your twenties are your minds’ and it really summed up what I wanted to jot down. At first it was a novel but at this stage I’m a little too undisciplined to write a novel so I began working on this 90 minute screenplay. Not that I thought it would be a particularly good film but rather because I just wanted to get the fucking thing down on paper and try and batter out some sort of shape to it.

Then after Heart Shaped Vinyl (my first play, churned out in a month and thrown onstage before the umbilical cord could be cut) I had a bit more confidence about what went into writing a play. There was no pressure on me to write another and there was no particular need for me to do so but Smitten just jumped to mind. I had a fear that I’d have this story about the choices you face in your 20’s and that by the time I got around to executing it in any form I’d suddenly be in my 30’s. And as books and films are infinitely more ambitious ventures, I figured I’d try and adapt Smitten into a play. And that’s what I’ve spent the past year doing.

I tried to mould it into some decent structure and then tried to implement all the various surreal elements I wanted to put into it. In its story and script form I had a disparate selection of dream sequences and dance sequences and singing sequences and heavy doses of magic realism all this other shit I could indulge in because I was just writing for myself, right? But with an audience in mind I felt I had to jettison a lot of the outlandish elements of the stories and really focus on telling a few stories well. So that’s what I’ve tried to do and I hope it works out. It’s been a long process and a tough process and really, I’d love more time with it but yup, out of my hands. I’ve spent countless times annoying the actors and Colm with changes throughout the rehearsal process but I think I could just stay tinkering at something for fucking ages. Even up to the first week of our rehearsal period there was one story about this suicidal girl who hovered above the Canal Walk and I really liked elements of it but it was an awkward fit so I cut it. I think the reason I liked it was because it wasn’t intertwined into the story of a relationship. I guess that’s the one thing I don’t like about Smitten, that it’s too couple heavy. So instead of being about an assortment of 20 something’s, it becomes about an assortment of 20 something couples. But those couple stories do seem to commentate on choices you have to make in your 20’s so yeah, all the lovey dovey stuff might just have a point.

Despite constant nervousness and worry, I’ve really enjoyed the rehearsal period on this one and after our initial casting difficulties, it’s been really fun. It really is an awesome cast, they’re fucking brilliant, every one of them. Toppers they are. The words really flow out like rain onto a Kilkenny street and they make it sound a lot better than I could have hoped for. Our committee and crew have really worked hard on this one. Initially, after how well Trainspotting went we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to muster the energy for another play and that we’d end up fucking up our momentum by burning ourselves out. Well, if burn out is in the post, it hasn’t arrived yet. I think it’s that nervousness about topping Trainspotting and also having to live up to the plaudits we got for it that’s made us up our A game considerably. So myself, Niamh, Ken, Kevin, Ross, Paddy and Colm have spent ample time sitting in The Field drinking stupid amounts of tea and deliberating over every minute detail of this production. I’m very proud of the work we do and if this play bombs and goes up in a big heap of smoke, I’m happy choking on it in the knowledge that we’ve tried our best.

Also, we wouldn’t have been able to do this play without Barnstorm Theatre Company’s assistance. They’ve supported it all the way and given us their time, space and professionalism, all for the love of local theatre. And for that, they must be commended. We’d be at nothing without support and with them we’ve had it in bucket loads. If you haven’t had the pleasure of being in The Barn before, oh you wait and see. Plus Eddie has some killer set design plans in place. It’s going to be something else. And David Sheenan, aka Supernova Scotia, has contributed a fucking awesome score for the play which makes it seem really unique. So yeah, it’s gonna look and sound great at least!

I also have to state that Colm Sheenan, our director, has been fantastic. He’s really busted his ass on the play and has never given up on it. He’s always brimful of direction, suggestions and chair movements. And he’s always good enough to step back when the actors want to try something out or when I invariably fret and worry about a scene and keep thinking of changing stuff. I really hope the finished product does his work justice.

And it’s that finished work that goes onstage this Wednesday. Is it finished? Well, for now it is. But I always think I might go back to that book or that film script again. And for no other reason in my mind than there’s a lot of stories in Kilkenny and they’re well worth telling. It’s a hell of a place. Despite all the rain.

Smitten opens August 20th in The Barn, Church Lane, Kilkenny. It runs until Saturday August 23rd and tickets are 10EURO in Rollercoaster Records, Kieran Street.

AFTER: Struck As With Harsh Blow - Smitten Closes

After a 4 night sell out run we’re all a little shell shocked. Struck as with hard blow for absolute sure. We weren’t expecting the demand for our production of Smitten to be as it was. But it certainly was. The entire run had been pretty much booked out by Thursday afternoon. Any remaining awry comps were contested and SOLD OUT signs (as below) were quickly drawn up by a big red marker. All the while we stood by quite amazed. This show was a bit of a leap of faith for us. We termed it an experiment certainly. For a fledgling company to do a brand new untested play 6 weeks after a massive large scale production in a space that most people hadn’t heard of or struggled to find with a severely depleted roster of actors and resources was an ask. But it was worth every second. I was so proud of everyones hard work and what was achieved. The fact that 4 nights of a sell out produced consistent laughs and smiling faces was enough for me. Relief too! I could see where the play worked and where it didn’t but with an audience it breathed, and I’m glad it came to life. It went a bit too long and a few tech glitches hiccuped us but mostly it was a production that showed the hard slog that had been put into it. With all my initial worries and nerves calmed, I’ll now happily go back to the lab and tinker away.

So, solid props to the director Colm Sheenan for his tireless work on the project. To our awesome set, prop and lighting designers Eddie Brennan, Thom Dowling and Gerry Taylor. To everyone at Barnstorm Theatre Company for letting us into their home and stealing their milk for the week. To the hard grafting committee of Devious Theatre, Ken, Paddy, Niamh, Ross and Kev.

And finally to the amazing cast who really gave it socks and gave the audiences some fine performances. They were a joy in every single way and to revive the show just to work with them again would be worth it alone. They were Stephen Colfer, Ross Costigan, Amy Dunne, Ken McGuire, Kevin Mooney, Lynsey Moran, Niamh Moroney, Maria Murray, Suzanne O’Brien, Jack O’Leary, Annette O’Shea and Geoff Warner Clayton.And that’s that. Us Devious bods must rest ourselves before the next production begins. Until October…

John Morton



Monday, September 22, 2008

The Incident Of The Wrapped Episode

And that's a wrap.

Well, it's really more of a 3 down and 3 to go type scenario but hey, it's an accomplishment nonetheless...and I'm tired so I'll take what I can get.

Vultures Episode 3 wrapped today after a very early start (I was awake and eating Bran Flakes at 4am) so we all finished with a nice sleep in Alan's car and now I feel a bit fresher since Jim Vultour's hair, beard and manky smoky smell have been removed from me.

This was definitely the most pleasurable episode of Vultures to shoot so far. I think everyone's enthusiasm, comfort and talent really hit a peak on this one and I'm hopeful it's going to show. 3 episodes in and things are just gelling better and everybody's got a better idea of what the project is about and what it's needs are. This has certainly been an easier shoot for myself and Alan anyway because of the extended crew who chipped in. So major props to Ross, Laurent and Colm for giving themeselves over to Vultures. Myself and Alan were able to focus on other areas a lot more (less waving our arses in front of carlights to achieve that squad car look this time) and no doubt the show is going to be better because of it.

I also have to give a massive thanks to the cast who continue to bowl me over with their enthusiasm, passion for the project and willingness to have stupid haircuts, weird beards and get up at ridiculous hours. And on this one they have been Sean Hackett, David Thompson, Ross Costigan, Gus McDonagh, Peter McGann, John Doran, Liadain Kaminska, Stephen Colfer, Paul Young, Niamh Moroney, Eddie Brennan, Tommy Ruane and that old granny who walked by during the opening scene. You bring tears to a brother's eyes.

So it's off to the editing laboratory with myself Alan and Paddy for the next few weeks and we hope to emerge by the end of October with a tight little story called 'The Mystery Of The Night Time Refuse.'

We'll also be making an announcement in regards to Episode 4 in the next couple of weeks so expect something interesting. Well, a title anyway. It might be of interest.

All photos are taken by Ross Costigan. He's got big hair and a big camera and a big website called www.oss237.com