Devious Theatre & Dario Fo

FROM LAST September to March gone, I spent seven months producing (and acting in) two major productions with The Devious Theatre Company. We embarked on the mission of a Dario Fo season. Not content with doing just one show, we sprang for two and almost went for a third two months ago. Of all of our productions to date, Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! will stand out for a long time to come.

Whereby with previous shows we’ve released clips of various scenes, the Mycrofilms crew have put together a mashup of both productions in around six minutes or so to give you a flavour of what took place in the Set Theatre in Kilkenny in December 2009 and March 2010.

The good news for theatre folk is that we may be back sooner than you thought. After all, it wouldn’t be a summer in Kilkenny without some kind of Devious activity…

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! Artwork

Can't Pay? Won't Pay!

SURROUNDING YOURSELF with fantastic creatives (i.e. incredibly creative people) can be great for your health. It can be great for your sanity. It can inspire all kinds of creative thoughts of your own, bring ideas to life and much more. Of course, if you’re like me, it can leave you with a cap, a white face, a pencil moustache, incredibly large sideburns, a pink check shirt, electric green overalls and outrageous accents.

But in fairness, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of those creatives is fellow deviant, Paddy Dunne, who has produced the latest masterpiece. For the last few stage productions for Devious Theatre, myself, Paddy and John (Morton) have worked the angles and cameras coming up with funky setups and promotional imagery for the likes of Stags and Hens, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and next month’s production of Dario Fo’s Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! The phrase “I’ll just photoshop it in” took on a life of its own many moons ago, but “photoshop it in” he’s done and he’s created this gem.

Of course, we won’t mention his PPAI Designer of the Year nomination last year but you’ll find reference to it in the programme if you make it along to the show.

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! opens in Set Theatre, Kilkenny, on Wednesday March 10th and runs to Sunday March 14th. Tickets, priced €13 are available from our online sales area. The early bird tickets (which were available at €10) have been snapped up but we’ve got plenty to go around. From March we’ll be taking a break from the stage for a few months, directing our theatrical sights into other areas online and off and this latest production brings a close to our Dario Fo season so we urge you to come out, you won’t be disappointed.

For more on the show, check DeviousTheatre.com.

Talking Theatre & Pubs

Little bit of a cross-post redirection play here to and article I’ve penned for Devious Theatre over on the blog. In prepping a series of articles for the group around some of the technologies we use to keep ourselves afloat and assist our daily workloads, an article in today’s Irish Times has me drawn back to pub theatre with fond memories of our first production, Heart Shaped Vinyl, back in August 2006.

The return of pub theatre (by Peter Crawley in The Ticket) and how we too will drink to pub theatre.

Online Ticket Sales For Theatre Companies

Recorded reading of Can't Pay? Won't Pay!
Recorded cast reading of Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay this past Saturday. That’ll be me pictured on the right of show, playing the role of Giovanni.

THE DEVIOUS theatre company, one of my other / many hats, have announced details of our first major production in 2010, Dario Fo’s Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! and I’ll be on KCLR96FM around 4:15pm afternoon chatting about the show. You can tune in via KCLR96FM.com (live stream link).

We do a lot of things online as a company, given we have no physical premises as such (bar sharing each others offices for the odd rehearsal / recording session). We blog, we connect, we share videos, tweet, hold our meetings online, use private forums for staff discussion, provide online resources, scripts and schedules for cast and crew, we advertise (and have completed a few useful Facebook ad campaigns), we podcast, we’ve an online CRM setup for managing contacts and suppliers and a whole lot more besides. The next logical step of course was to start selling tickets online.

I had long thought about it for the group, given the wide variety of venues we’ve performed in, the growing and varying audiences we’re attracting show-on-show, and the difference in management for pre-bookings or box office practice per venue that it would be good to introduce something online that we could manage ourselves, cost effectively as well.

Enter Eventbrite, which within ten minutes of using I had our December performance of Accidental Death of an Anarchist up and running, with five nights of tickets to buy for, connected out to our Facebook profile to plug the event there and (add on another five minutes or so) tickets available via DeviousTheatre.com with their embedding service.

So with a new show on the horizon and tickets gone to the printers, we figured we’d do exactly the same for our production of Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! in March.

There were a lot of plusses for using the service. To start with, it opened the door to a potential new revenue stream for the group. We decided that 2010 would be the year we focus on turning the group towards a business, the first step for us in bringing the company “professional” (join the queue for the debate between amateur and professional theatre) and as such, revenue streams have to be looked at. We spend a lot of time, as a group, online in promoting and documenting our shows and we felt that online ticket sales would give us the ability to reach those that are the more serious web users, those au fait with booking online. We also wanted a way to provide ticket sales to people traveling from out of town, those who couldn’t travel to Kilkenny before the box office closed at six, or those who didn’t want to give credit card details over the phone. On both, accounts, it worked.

That was the test – would it work. I would have considered it a success if one person had bought one ticket online, at least we know it worked. But one turned into three, turned into 17 and more as the weekend theatregoers turned up with their pre-printed tickets (made available by Eventbrite), our door staff crossing off the checklist of those who registered and paid for tickets online (also made available by Eventbrite) and as a plus for us, we had immediate access for funds to use online in advance of the production. As the payments go from Eventbrite to our Paypal account, and we’re avid eBay users for sourcing props for shows over the years, we’ve created a stream of income we didn’t quite have before.

For some of those people attending Accidental Death of an Anarchist, who bought their tickets online, it was their first time to see one of our productions – a further success in my eyes. Would they have come to the show or traveled 30 miles to Kilkenny if they hadn’t been able to buy their tickets online? Maybe, maybe not, but they came. And as a bonus, we’ve decided that those who did purchase tickets online for our first show will receive a nice discount on the online purchases if they want to buy tickets for Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! online. A token gesture for us, yes, but at the same time we’re hoping it would encourage people to return again and enjoy another night at the theatre.

The tickets for Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay are on sale. You can pick them up online here and here. There is a booking fee of €1.07 per ticket sold online, something that we’re also able to manage ourselves and it’s how Eventbrite (much like the credit card companies or physical theatres) will make their money from box office sales. When Eventbrite deliver funds per show / ticket sold, those funds include the booking fee. Post-event we’re invoiced from Eventbrite to recoup the booking fee, and again, it’s a straight Paypal transaction. Outside of that, there’s no other cost involved. No membership fee, no setup fee, nothing.

So we add online ticket sales to our bow, and we know that it works. I’m still tempted into doing an online theatre production, or live-streaming one of our own productions but we’ll have to talk to the licensing powers that be about that one.

And yes, I’m sure there are other ticket-selling resources available but we’ve tried Eventbrite, made it work, had it generate revenue and open a whole other realm of online promotion for the group so we’re happy to keep going with it.

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! runs at the Set Theatre, John Street, Kilkenny from Wednesday March 10th to Sunday March 14th 2010. Tickets available online priced €13 ex booking fee. Keep an eye on DeviousTheatre.com for more details.

Beaten Up For My Love Of The Arts

Ken McGuire plays the Superintendent

If you believe the above photo, I’ve been beaten up for my love of the arts. Or more for the honour of performing with the DTC actors again in our production of Accidental Death Of An Anarchist which opens next Wednesday night in the new Set Theatre on John Street, Kilkenny.

We’re (as in The Devious Theatre Company) taking our next production to the new 252-seater space for a five night run commencing Wednesday December 2nd and wrapping Sunday December 6th.

Written in 1970, Accidental Death Of An Anarchist was inspired by events that took place in Italy in 1969 when an anarchist, Giuseppe Pinelli fell – or was thrown – from the fourth floor window of a Milan police station. He had been accused of a campaign of bombing, of which he was later found innocent. The resultant scandal uncovered a system rife with corruption and intensified public rage at the government. Intensification of public rage is something that Dario Fo is a master of with his work challenging church, government and the authorities in Italy for over 50 years.

Accidental Death Of An Anarchist takes place as an enquiry into the anarchist’s death is causing the policemen involved to have some difficulties remembering the details of the event. That is, until a nameless deranged madman shows up and proceeds to tie the authorities around his fingers in a master class performance of utter logic. The cast includes Alan Butler, Sean Hackett, Simone Kelly, myself, John Morton and David Thompson playing the famed role of the shape shifting Madman. Having previously donned the director’s hat for Trainspotting (2008), John finds himself wearing it again for this production (and also the followup with Fo’s Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! next spring)

As is usually the case with adaptations of Dario Fo, this production will look at the events of the play through the prism of modern Ireland and the corruption and scandals inherent in our own political systems. Employing the comedic methods of commedia dell’arte and slapstick as used by Dario Fo, Accidental Death Of An Anarchist is an uproariously funny farce which rallies against political injustice and corruption.

To mark the occasion of the opening of the new show I’ve got two tickets sitting here on my desk that I would like someone to have. They’re for the opening night of the show on Wednesday coming and if you would like a chance at winning the tickets, leave a comment and tell me which Italian playwright penned Accidental Death Of An Anarchist. We’ll leave things run until tomorrow evening perhaps, say 5pm tomorrow (Friday) to try get a winner.

The show itself runs nightly at 8pm, doors open 7:30pm, we’ve priced tickets at €12 for some very affordable theatre and they can also be bought from Langtons on John Street, Rollercoaster Records on Kieran Street (Kilkenny) and online via DeviousTheatre.com.

One Down, Four To Go

Stags and Hens

So, the past few weeks heave been spent getting ready for Stags and Hens with The Devious Theatre Company. I’m a co-founder of the company, a producer on the show and play the role of Eddy (the violent best man), so the last few weeks have been testing to say the least.

Last night though, it all kicked off. One down, four to go.

The only problem with doing this part time is that you spend six weeks in rehearsal for a show, maybe another two months of top of that in pre-production, and it’s all over in under a week.

So for the next few days, you’ll be able to find me enjoying performing in Stags and Hens at the Watergate Theatre in Kilkenny. If you would like to join myself and the rest of the Devious Theatre crew and check out the show, tickets are available from the Watergate box office on 056-7761674 or by calling in person to the theatre from 10am each day. If you want to find out more about the show itself, check out the DeviousTheatre.com blog or follow @devioustheatre on Twitter for daily updates and snippets from the wings during the show.

We’re back on the stage tonight at 8pm.

Stags And Hens Trailer

More video for you this week (with more likely to come at the weekend). This time it’s the trailer we’ve just release for Stags And Hens, taking place at the Watergate Theatre in Kilkenny from Tuesday July 21st to Saturday July 25th. Next week we’re going to start giving away a few tickets for the show as well so if you want to be in with a chance of winning, you best get to following @devioustheatre on Twitter. Facebook ads kick in this week, more character promo posters get released, more mentions in the press, it’s full steam ahead.

The first of our video diaries went live earlier in the week as well, you can check it out here or keep an eye on DeviousTheatre.com for all the developments on the show.

A Peek Into Stags & Hens

The above was cut together last night for The Devious Theatre Company, the group (of which I’m involved in running) currently up to their neck in rehearsals for Stags & Hens at the Watergate Theatre, opening on July 21st. The video and audio were captured on a Sony HDR-SR10 with 5.1 audio, all shots captured last Thursday night (July 2nd) and woven together in Final Cut Express on the Mac. Title screens and name overlays added as PNGs to the process. Music underscoring the piece is a recorded instrumental version of Superstition by Stevie Wonder. Running time is just under three minutes.

We’ve also cut together a nice teaser trailer which will hit the web this week, thanks to Alan Slattery at Mycrofilms.

You can find out more about Devious Theatre by visiting DeviousTheatre.com. We’ve got a few more of these diaries to release over the next two weeks and when I’ve got more, you’ll have more.

If you’re in Kilkenny this weekend, join us for a Devious Theatre 70s night party and fundraiser (fundraiser being there will be buckets doing the rounds if anyone wanted to make a contribution to the theatrical cause). We’re taking over Cleere’s in Kilkenny, the entire place, adding some serious 70s music, fancy dress, food, disco ball, the lot. Kick-off is 9pm.

My Dear Rosencrantz

My evenings have been occupied this past week with rehearsals for two stage productions. Next month I’ll be stepping onto the Watergate stage in Kilkenny as Eddy in Willy Russell’s Stags And Hens. This weekend, however, is in complete contrast as I, along with some of my fellow deviants, stage a performance called Shakespeare In Bits as part of the Shakespeare In The House festival in Kilkenny.

The festival, now in its second year, sees Dreamstuff Youth Theatre (the theatre wing of Young Irish Film Makers) perform abridged versions of Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Comedy Of Errors. Cartoon Saloon will be on hand to provide a Shakespearean animation workshop, there’s a 60-second Shakespeare film competition and then there’s our programme, which certain deviates from the norm.

As part of Shakespeare In Bits were bringing performances from The Tempest, extracts from The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare, a monologue or two from Hamlet, The New Yorker’s take on the recent Christian Bale rant (transformed to Shakespearean times), Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (above), culminating in a sonnet-off akin to the rap battles of 8-Mile.

Each day starts around 11am (this Saturday and Sunday) and it all takes place in Rothe House on Parliament Street, Kilkenny. Admission is free.

For the moment, however, the sun seems to have vacated Kilkenny completely, but hopefully the rain will disappear to make way for the sun once more.

The C Word

One of my alter egos is involved in the running of The Devious Theatre Company in Kilkenny. We write new works, produce and direct in house, run a great rotation system on all of our productions since our launch in 2006 and this weekend we’re getting set to announce the first part of our 2009 program of theatre.

When things go right, they go very right. When things go wrong, they’re usually followed by “the C word”. At least that used to be the case. The word has lost all meaning and is now a total Devious Theatre term of affection.

We’ve been plugging a string of videos from a production of Trainspotting we did last year (one of three productions of 2008) over on DeviousTheatre.com and we’ve just released the final video aka The Cunt Cut.

Needless to say, it was a very popular word in Trainspotting… can you count how many are there?