The Setting Sun…

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Had really mixed feelings coming into the last night, melancholic about finishing the run of this play which has been so big a part of my life for the last two months. Still there’s nothing like the excitement of the last night, everyone’s settled into what they’re doing. The nerves that can cause trouble for a performance are well and truly under control. Not to mention we’re all looking forward to finally getting our lives back!

As the show went on, it was clear the cast and crew had save their best for last, I felt immensely proud of them all. As luck would have it we had another vocal audience for the last night which spurred everyone to even greater heights.

It was all that I could possibly have asked from this amazing group of people.

As each scene finished I did feel a little sad that I’d never hear those funny or dramatic lines again and as each character left the stage for the final time it was a little like seeing a friend leave, never to be seen again. I knew them all so well by the end.

Afterwards we had a great little after-show party, where I was presented with some very generous and thoughtful gifts – a framed Music For The Jilted Generation LP cover with vinyls to match, wonderful cards from the cast which incorporated a drawing of the characters from the piece by the extremely talented Patrick O Callaghan.

I may also have made a very long and rambling speech, apologies to all that I inflicted that on. There was also a mini rave afterwards where we re-enacted some of the scenes from the play (minus the pills!). A really, really great night was had.

Now that it’s all over and I’ve had a little time to let it sink in and have a personal review of how it went. I’m very pleased. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do things differently.  Even looking back over my own posts on this blog I think I’ve perhaps not quite stuck to my original vision.  Some of the decisions I ended up making ‘offhand’ had greater implications on the play than I might have realised at the time. These things I’ll chalk up to experience.

I have no regrets though,  I’m extremely proud of our version of ‘Ecstasy’ and I’ve learned a great deal.

It’s all done now barring a little post play review and a well deserved party and I guess that’s the natural ending of this blog too.If there are more posts it will be contributions from others. So thank you for sharing this adventure with me.

Thanks to the Cast and Crew, the Ecstasy team and to Irvine Welsh and Keith Wyatt for creating ‘Ecstasy’ in the first place. What a rush.

Patrick O’Callaghan – Lloyd
Tracey Diamond – Heather
Ruairi De Burca – Hugh, Woodsy, Nukes, Mr. Moir, Eric, Restaurateur
Angela Carlin – Marie, Moll, Veronica
Joe McCarthy – Ally, Drewsy, Vaughan, Mr. Case, Bill, Reverend
Brian, Robert, Mrs. McKensie
Caoimhe Cooke – Hazel
Ellen Nolan – Amber, Victim, Polis

Damien holmes, Rachel Byrne,  Lynn Harnedy – Dancers/Ensemble

Declan Ryan – The D.J.

Assistant Director – David Fleming
Producer – Maria Dillon
Production Manager – Alan Rogers
Stage Manager – Rhiannon Dawson

Assistant Stage Manager -Yvonne Durran

Technical Director – Sheila Dooley
Set Designer – Tom Murphy
Props Coordinator – Maureen Burgess
Costume – Lynn Harnedy and Alan Rogers
Hair & Make-Up Coordinator – Ann Hogan
Hair & Make-Up Crew – Maria Dillon, Sarah Maloney
Sound Designer – Christine Leonard
Lighting Designer – Shane Robinson
Lighting Assistant – Paula Madden
Graphic Designer – Gráinne O’Sullivan
House Manager – Brendan Dalton
Front of House – Rachel Byrne, Ellen Hallinan
Box Office – Alan Rogers
Stage Hands – Yvonne Durran, Sarah Bowie, Damien Holmes
Publicity – Laura Jackson

and Brian Quinn and Jenny McGowan for their sound advice on Directing.

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“Feeling so real”

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This is a very quick blog while I’m in transit to the theatre for the second performance.

Last night went very well. We had a full house, the audience enjoyed it, judging by the laughs ( and occasional sharp intake of breath).

For me it was a pretty nerve wracking experience, I think I’ve been pretty calm and collected for the most part. But in the few minutes before the show and during every change, sound or lighting cue my heart was in my mouth. I think I saved all the anxiety over the last few months for last nights performance!

That said it was an all the more rewarding experience when it turned out so well, and even the few technical hiccups were dealt with so professionally that I’m not sure anyone else even noticed them.

It’s interesting to hear what people have to say about it,our first review is very favourable ( I’ll link it later when I’m noting my phone). I’ll save my own ‘review’ until the end of the run when I’ve had a chance to watch all the performances.

The trick now is to keep our energy up and try to better yourselves each night and not get complacent.

We have to party harder than ever.

Everybody in the place

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Well, hard to believe it but the day of our premiere has come. Last night saw all of the elements come together for the first time: performance, light, sound, set, props and stage crew.

For future directors there are a couple of things I’d recommend. Know what the most complex pieces of your play are and allocate enough time for them. Sound and light were where the complexity lay.

The other thing I’d say is don’t underestimate the ‘simple’ elements, our set design was a simple enough concept, but when it comes to putting it all together there are ALWAYS touch ups,modifications and dressing elements that require time to complete.

I’d like to say a quick thank you here to the cast and crew for their patience and hard work yesterday. All of whom we’re here till the very last moment last night. (Even if it was their birthday! Thanks Ann!)

Our tech run was really good last night ( if at times nerve wracking) we got the niggles worked out and I’m excited about seeing the real thing tonight. Looks like an almost sold out show at the moment too!

I’ll leave you with this thought, have fun tonight, it’s a rave (dave).

Hey boy, hey girl, superstar DJ. Here we go!

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image

As I write this I’m enjoying a rare moment of solitude in the theatre. It’s the day after our ‘Get in’ and the day before the first show.

Yesterday saw the set construction finalised (including last minute adjustments), make up tests, a lot if lighting wiring, prop tests, last minute wardrobe additions, lots of stage management planning and some significant technical issues for sound. 

I got less done than I had hoped and yet more was done than I would have thought possible!

Today the plan is to program the remaining lighting settings, test our new sound solution, run scene changes and finally dress rehearsal. Leaving tomorrow to pick up any changes that are required following that.

It’s a very tight schedule we are running ( we normally start the show on Wednesday), but I think we’ll be ok.

Just to complicate matters the Queen of England has decided to pop in next door tomorrow. I  have to say she’s already being an inconsiderate neighbour, putting up fences and blocking our driveway and such.

Dance, Dance, Revolution.

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Before I get onto the dancing, a quick status update:

The first draft of the technical script has been shared with the production crew and we’ve got almost all of the props, costumes, sound/music and basic set build. We’re now into just filling in the gaps before we get into the theatre: minor costume modifications, a little set dressing, sound cues.

I’m just back from the first Dress rehearsal, we had most of the production team present including Stage Manager, Lighting and Hair/Makeup, all of who are now entering into their ‘busy’ period once we get into the actual space (Sunday week!).

It was a useful opportunity to find out what we’re missing and how the actors deal with the costume changes, props etc. It identified a few areas we need to smooth out, costume changes , sound cues and prop use . The cast did an excellent job considering it was the first time we introduced all of these elements and they should be proud of themselves.

I have every confidence it’s going to be a great show.

But enough of the self congratulation! Time for something a little more interesting. Given that many of Ecstasy’s scenes take place in clubs there is, necessarily, a lot of dancing. For the most part this is just regular club dancing nothing showy or fancy, a little waving of hands in the air and bouncing to the music, just enough to give the club feel without distracting from the dialogue. It has what I would call a ‘trancey’ feel to it.

For some of the later scenes though, the dancing reflects the agitation or excitement of the characters. In those a more high tempo active dance style is used.  So we’ve played around with a couple of things recently and I include them here for the benefit of both the cast and those who just want to impress on the dancefloor on your next night out.

We looked at three different ‘steps’.

(I apologies for the music/ sound quality in the following videos!)

The ever present Running Man

Hardstep  ( in particular the move from 1:56) *

Melbourne Shuffle*

here’s a particularly good hardstyle/shuffle vid

Because the music is pretty bad on the rest of the vids, here’s the prodigy.

And this proves  there’s nothing new under the sun…

*I’m a little rusty on this so I mixed up my terminology when I spoke to the cast, but hopefully this clarifies.

“Bring your colours, to the floor”*

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My Technical Director (advisor across sound, lighting and set design) has recommended coming up with a concept for the appearance of the piece.

It’s something that I had already thought of, but not consciously and not as a thing to be decided and communicated. My first ‘high concept’ ideas were around the movement and pace, accents and sound. I’m not ‘good’ with drawing, making things ‘look’ good or Colours in other words I’m a man.

However the more I think about it the more useful an idea I think it is. Squinting hard at some pictures to pick some colours and concepts, then I can leave the creativity to those who are doing the making, hunting and gathering!

So with that in mind.

The Palette:

I’m thinking a palette of perhaps 4 or 5 colours should be plenty.

Let’s pick two ‘main’ colours and base them on the lead characters Lloyd and Heather. I’m thinking Red and Blue since the characters are ‘opposites’ in many ways’. People associate Red with agression, decisiveness, fire and this best reflects Heather’s personality.  Blue is Calm, passive, water and Lloyd is for the most part laid back go with the flow kind of person. Neither of them are ‘pure’ versions of their colour and the play has a slightly dark edge to it so lets give them dark versions of those.

The other colours on the palette are a no brainer really, the Acid Greens, Smiley Yellows and Neon Oranges of the early 90s.

So that gives us a little something like this:

Like I said, I’m not the visuals guy,The image above is purely to illustrate the colours I’m thinking of. More specifically there are no flamenco dancers in this play.

Image includes elements from pictures by fatcatjr, danielle_blue and Aaron Wagner

*Post title stolen from the excellent Colours by the prodigy

The Countdown begins

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We’ve been rehearsing for a little over 4 weeks now and with just under 4 weeks left it seems like a good place to take stock.

Every scene in the play has now had some blocking applied and the actors performances worked on (in that order). Some scenes are effectively complete, others still need a lot of work.

We’ve spent some time discussing the characters using “20 questions” type exercises and mock job interviews.

We’ve covered some of the sound cues in rehearsal and got a relatively high-tech soundboard going.

Props have been introduced in rehearsal. I can’t recommend starting that process early enough to future directors. Putting something in an actors hand can place a significant restriction on the actor that needs to be accounted for.

On the production side, the costuming has been discussed for
Each character. Our stage designer has pulled together the plan for our low-maintenace set elements.

Sound and music decisions are made and sourcing and rights procurement are underway.

Broad strokes lighting decisions have been made ( character spotlights for the leads, disco lighting for club scenes and colour fills for the ‘trippy’ scenes)

As mentioned some props are now available with more to come. Never thought Penis texture would be something that would come up in a Nodrama production meeting, but it has!

Next steps.

With the remaining weeks we still have a lot to do.

The director needs to pull together the Technical script detailing when the following happen: entrances,exits, set changes, props, costume changes, makeup/hair change, lighting/sound cues and a partridge in a pear tree.

The production team need to review the technical script and start planning how it is to be implemented. The Stage Manager can use this to decide where stagehands need to be placed and what their responsibilities are.

Tickets need to go on sale. Promotion needs to kick off.
Costume and prop trials need to be done.

For the cast we need to finish out blocking and drill,drill,drill! We need to include as many of the final elements as possible and make whatever adjustments are required to accommodate them.

And I’m sure I’m forgetting something!

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