Tag Archives | john morton

The Makings Of A Ripping Yarn

hellfire_squad_web-10 The History: The Squad, originally nicknamed the Twelve Apostles, was a real life unit that were founded by Michael Collins in the run up to the War Of Independence. Their main goal was to counteract British Intelligence at this time, through means mostly focusing on assassinations. They did, as we term it in the play ‘the dirty work of a nation.’ Although they didn’t exclusively have twelve members, the Squad rotated membership and to this day, the full extent of Squad members isn’t entirely known. Squad_Members_2_2 It was a job, with a wage and many outsiders, men not fit for many other purposes, gravitated towards this assassination unit. While there weren’t any documented female members of the Squad, a lot of Collins central intelligence agents were women. And more so than their male counterparts of the time, they were written out of the subsequent history. A recruitment poster in Ireland during the first world war The Inspiration: We came up with the idea when discussing Inglourious Basterds and the men-on-a-mission adventure movies that inspired it, and decided to write an Irish version of those stories. We found the perfect subject matter: an alternate secret history of the origins of Michael Collins’ infamous hit squad. Collins The codename of the squad itself, the name of our villain Francis Dashwood, and the fire-and-brimstone tone came from setting it at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains near the notorious Hellfire Club. We started working on it in a flurry of excitement back in 2009. It was a Western and a War yarn at once, a Commando comic on the stage. Countless movies and the untold tales of Irish history inspired it. the-dirty-dozen Thematically, we were interested in telling a story of people who were written out of subsequent Irish history. Particularly the women of the Rising and Cumann na mBan who subsequently had their roles downplayed. In the 1916 centenary year, writing a play about the fervor it created in people after the rebellion felt like an interesting take. People who wanted an important role. hellfire-promo-7 This is the idea behind Kathleen Sweeney as narrator. She’s giving a voice to the voiceless, people like herself who fought for an Ireland that turned on them. Betrayal, at its essence, is what drives this story and we didn’t have to stray too far from history to utilise that. Despite our cinematic influences, making it as a play has always felt like Sean O’Casey and Dion Boucicault having a conversation mediated by Bertolt Brecht. That was the ‘highbrow’ intention anyway. The main intention was a cracking night’s entertainment. We hope you get that. The Execution: After intermittently working on it over the years, we took the script for a spin in August 2013. We did our first work in progress performance at Little Deviations: Volume 1, directed by Philip Brennan. HellfireSquad-ForWeb All the potential of the piece was there. Thanks to Artlinks support we were able to get Ken Bourke on board to provide dramaturgy for the script and he helped us develop it throughout 2015 and into this year. Getting a talented director like Sarah Baxter and getting the brilliant cast we did was the cherry on top. Hellfire Reading For Devious Theatre’s 10th birthday in 2016, not to mention the centenary of the 1916 Rising, it felt like the right production to do. It’s like one big mish mash of ten years of Devious Theatre in one show. It’s about a motley troupe, ill resourced and against the odds, trying to tell their stories during a tumultuous time in Irish history. Fitting enough. Peter McGann & John Morton
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#1. ‘The Bould’ Kathleen Sweeney


"We do the jobs we're given..."

#1. Kathleen Sweeney (Annette O'Shea) aka The Bould Kathleen. A publican and proprietor of the local Republican hub. Tasked with assembling the squad and overseeing their training. Frequently patronised but a better fighter than any man. Foul of mouth and quick to draw, she's here to fight for her freedom. Not a fan of loud noises. The Agent.

Annette O'Shea last appeared for us in The Hellfire Squad as part of Little Deviations: Volume 1. Previous credits for Devious Theatre include Bash, Scratcher and both productions of Smitten. Other stage credits include Before The Party directed by Tom Conti for Bill Kenwright Productions, Madame Knorr in On The Razzle (Pleasance Theatre), Mary Shelley (Pleasance Theatre), The Twelfth Night, Enlightenment, Hindle Wakes, The Rivals, The Lady’s Tragedy (LAMDA), The Crucible (Keegan Theatre, Washington) and Lovers (Watergate Productions). Short film credits include Adomba (Cellar Door Productions), Hunting Dragons (Fridge Magnet Pictures). Radio credits include Oonagh in Behind and Desperation (KCLR) and Sheila in The Undertakers (Evil Genius Productions). The Hellfire Squad is directed by Sarah Baxter and plays Project Arts Centre from July 18-23. It will then play The Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from July 28-30 as part of this years AKA programme. Tickets are onsale now.
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#3. Walter Meade


"I'd call that a good days labour..."

#3. Walter Meade (John Morton) aka The Blacksmith. A veteran of the Rising and suffering from shell-shock as a result. A loud, swaggering one eyed figure obsessed with the work. Highly emotional, quick to temper and very trigger happy. His role in the Squad is a bit of a wild card. Likes a pint. The Loose Cannon. John Morton is one of the co-writers of The Hellfire Squad. Previously for Devious Theatre, John has written the plays War Of Attrition, Scratcher, Smitten and Heart Shaped Vinyl, which he recently directed in a new version. Onstage credits for us include Heart Shaped Vinyl, War Of Attrition, Bash, Scratcher, Smitten, Accidental Death Of An Anarchist, Stags and Hens, Cannibal! The Musical and Trainspotting. Other stage credits include Taboo (White Label), Snake Eaters (The New Theatre), Konstantin Has Shot Himself (Sheer Tantrum), Wild Harvest (Watergate Productions). Film and TV credits include Locus Of Control, Old Fangs, Love/Hate, Republic Of Telly, Tobias And The Tree and Fading Away. Recent writing work includes Taboo (White Label) and Bridge Street Will Be (Asylum/Equinox). He also wrote and directed this years RTÉ Storyland pilot Smitten, based on his play. The Hellfire Squad is directed by Sarah Baxter and plays Project Arts Centre from July 18-23. It will then play The Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from July 28-30 as part of this years AKA programme. Tickets are onsale now.
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#7. Austin De Courcey


"Burns like the dickens, but gets the job done..."

#7. Austin De Courcey (Ed Murphy) aka The 3rd Earl Of Roundwood. A well bred, dapper land owner of British descent who likes to smoke a pipe, swig a brandy and kill any man who besmirches his beloved Eire. He might be a Protestant, yes and quite removed from the rest of the squad but he stands his ground as a proud local, born and bred. Woe betide the man who underestimates him because of his means. The Reconnaissance Man. Ed Murphy has previously appeared for Devious Theatre in Some Flood, Night Of The Living Dead, Shakespeare In Bits, Stags and Hens and Cannibal! The Musical. Ed also directed Tenterhooks, one of the five pieces presented at Little Deviations: Volume 1. Other stage credits include TEXT|Messages (Project Arts Centre), Twelfth Night (AC Productions), Strange Attractors (Samuel Beckett Theatre), Fused (Dublin Fringe Festival 2013), This Is It (Just The Lads). Film and television credits include Reign, Gardar in History’s Vikings, the lead role of Danny in Mark Sheridan’s new feature film Crone Wood, Jim Sheridan’s new feature film The Secret Scripture, Fir Bolg, a comedy mini-series for TG4, and a role in director Brian Dean’s Storyland web series CTRL. The Hellfire Squad plays Project Arts Centre from July 18-23. It will then play The Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from July 28-30 as part of this years AKA programme. Tickets are onsale now.
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More Myth Than Men…

  hellfire-promo-4 The first trailer for The Hellfire Squad is here. Never let history get in the way of a good yarn. It shows the squad assembling for the group shot that you glimpsed in the main poster for the show. This trailer was shot, directed and edited by the terribly talented Fergal Costello. Michael Collins infamous hit squad are bringing the hellfire to Project Arts Centre from July 18-23 and The Watergate Theatre from July 28-30. God bless the work.
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Heart Shaped Vinyl – 2000’s

HSV - 2000's The next album cover for Heart Shaped Vinyl plants us right to where we ended the first production of the play, the 2000's. SIDE A: 2003 - I Am Trying To Break Your Heart by Wilco On the last day of school, Sean has made a mixtape for Kate and he's hoping she's really listening. SIDE B: 2006 - I'll See Your Heart And I'll Raise You Mine by Bell X1 Post college, Kate decides to put her friendship with Sean on the line. Colin O'Brien and Anne-Marie O'Brien play Sean and Kate in Heart Shaped Vinyl. Colin O’Brien has been acting with us for five years now. He last played The Welfare Officer in The Union by Adrian Kavanagh last July. Previous Devious Theatre credits include Night Of The Living Dead and the roles of Adam in Phantasm and Marko in Shifting, both by John Kennedy. Anne-Marie O’Brien makes her Devious Theatre debut here. She has previously been part of Spark Productions troupe in Graiguenamanagh. Credits include the title character in the Irish stage premiere of Jack Thorne’s Bunny which played Cleeres Theatre in August 2013 and The Last Of The Freshers by Adrian Kavanagh. Heart Shaped Vinyl returns to John Cleere’s Bar & Theatre next week running from May 18th-21st / 25th-28th. Tickets for the show can be booked here. This series of posters are designed by  Ken McGuire himself.
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Heart Shaped Vinyl – 1960’s

HSV 1960's

"Since you've got to go, oh you'd better go now..."

The first album cover for Heart Shaped Vinyl has landed and we're kicking things off in chronological fashion with the 1960's. SIDE A: 1963 - Runaway by Del Shannon The Windmills have broken up after a disastrous gig. Julie's going solo. Is Gerry going with her? SIDE B: 1968 - Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Bob Dylan Gerry and Julie reunite to talk about the showband days. But they're both having second thoughts. Simone Kelly and John Morton return to play the parts they originated in the first version of the play in 2006.
Simone Kelly reprises her role here after playing Julie in the 2006 and 2007 productions we staged. Other Devious Theatre credits include Beulah in Cannibal! The Musical, Lizzie in Trainspotting and Maria Feletti in Accidental Death Of An Anarchist. John Morton is the writer of this play and directs it here for the first time. He last directed The Union in 2015. Onstage credits with Devious Theatre include War Of Attrition, Bash, Smitten, Scratcher, Trainspotting and Cannibal! The Musical. For us, he has previously written Smitten, Scratcher and War Of Attrition. His last play Taboo was produced this past February in association with White Label.
Heart Shaped Vinyl returns to John Cleere's Bar & Theatre from May 18th-21st / 25th-28th. Tickets for the show can be booked here. This series of posters designed by Ken McGuire.
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Devious 10: The Hellfire Squad

hellfire-web "From the ruins of the G.P.O. they came. By design they were to be anonymous, unheard of, unseen. Their purpose was clear: to move like ghosts through the streets of Dublin and put the fear of God in the occupying forces. I saw it first hand. The Squad. Collins’ chosen ones. The Apostles. But that’s not what I knew them men as. To me they were born from ashes and forever more cloaked in hellfire. Don’t be lurking in those shadows… come out to us now…" - The Bould Kathleen Sweeney So begins the tale of the Squad. The next preview of our Devious 10 stock is the rip roaring, hell blazing yarn that is The Hellfire Squadwhich will be our second release this year when it lands this summer. Written by Peter McGann and John Morton, the play is a riotous, men on a mission, action comedy exploring the origins of the hit squad assembled by Michael Collins in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising. The infamous squad Collins created have never been the focus of a dramatic narrative until now, despite being an integral part of his legend. The Hellfire Squad looks at the impact this secret band of assassins made on Irish history in contrast to the secretive nature of their roles. The resultant story is a tightly woven journey, primarily fiercely comical, but just as powerful, tragic and frightening as the history it sprung from. The production will be directed by Sarah Baxter and produced by Ken McGuire. It opens in Project Arts Centre, Dublin where it will play from July 18th-23rd before hitting our hometown of Kilkenny where it will play The Watergate Theatre as part of this years AKA programme from July 28th-30th. It was previously presented in work in progress form as part of Little Deviations: Volume 1 in August 2013. HellfireSquad-ForWeb The creative squad working on it thus far are: Peter McGann (Co-Writer): This is Peter's first written work for the stage. His previous work has been for screen including the short films The Eyeball Waltz, Go West and Nugent. He is currently one of the writers of Republic Of Telly. He was also one of the makers of Vultures and has also acted in numerous films and TV shows over the years including Smitten, Hot Water Bottle, Daffney Molloy And Other Catastrophes and Swerve for Mycrofilms in Kilkenny. John Morton (Co-Writer): John's last written work for Devious Theatre was War Of Attrition which premiered in 2013 at Dublin Fringe Festival. Previous Devious Theatre plays include Scratcher, Smitten and his first play, and our next production, Heart Shaped Vinyl. His last play Taboo was presented by White Label in The New Theatre this past February. He was also the writer of community theatre project Bridge Street Will Be in 2015. Co-writes include Night Of The Living Dead and The War Of The Worlds. Sarah Baxter (Director): Sarah is making her directing debut with us. Previous directing work includes Taboo by John Morton, Jellyfish (Out to Lunch Festival 2016, Belfast/ Tiger Dublin Fringe 2015, Rich Mix, London and Foundation15 Arts Festival) To Space (Adelaide Fringe 2016, Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe 2015) The Art Of Ladylike and Flies (Collaborations Festival 2014). As assistant director: Howie The Rookie (Landmark Productions) A Particle Of Dread / Oedipus Variations (Field Day Theatre Company, Rian (Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre Company) and The Threepenny Opera (Gate Theatre). Ken McGuire (Producer): A founding member of Devious Theatre, Ken has previously produced many of our shows including The Union, War Of Attrition, Bash, Night Of The Living Dead, Smitten, Shifting, Scratcher, Dario Fo Season and Stags and Hens. Directing work for us includes Cannibal! The Musical (with Kevin Mooney), The War Of The Worlds and iphigenia in orem as part of Bash. The eight strong cast are currently being shrouded in secrecy so we won't be announcing them just yet but when we do, we'll be striking from the shadows. This is the first period piece we've done since Cannibal! The Musical (although we probably should count Heart Shaped Vinyl in that number) and we're very excited to tackle Irish history for the first time. This is our contribution to the centenary celebrations for 1916 and takes a skewed perspective on the events of the time, focusing on a group intent on achieving the infamy and burgeoning myth of the Easter Rising martyrs. It's a mish mash of styles and genres but when pressed, we've mostly been calling it a Western. Here's a look at some of the inspirations we've had on the go throughout the development of the show. IMG_6148 A terrible bastard will be born. The Hellfire Squad lands this July and tickets will be going on sale soon. We'll also be launching a Fund It campaign to support the show so please keep an eye out for that. God bless the work.
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Devious 10 Announcement: Heart Shaped Vinyl

hsv-teaser-web In a quick and surprising turn of events, Devious Theatre turn 10 years old in May 2016. That came around fast! To celebrate a decade of theatre, we're lining up a big, celebratory programme for the year entitled, quite simply, Devious 10. And here's our first announcement! We’ll be kicking off our 10th anniversary programme off with a reissue of our first production Heart Shaped Vinyl. First performed in Cleeres Theatre in August 2006, we’ll be returning to our spiritual home for a two week run of our critically acclaimed debut. Heart Shaped Vinyl is a theatrical mix tape focusing on pop music, relationships and a whole lot of heartbreak in Ireland over the course of six decades. Originally set between 1962 and 2006, this new version adds a brand new story set in the years 2014 and 2016. The play is broken into Side A and Side B, both of which tell a different side of six different stories featuring an ensemble cast of 14 actors. Heart Shaped Vinyl is the first play written by John Morton and was originally staged three times by Devious Theatre, in August 2006, June 2007 and October 2007. It has been hugely popular on the student drama circuit and has been presented in over ten different productions in the last decade. All previous productions of the play have sold out and for this one off commemorative edition, we expect tickets to be snapped up in advance. Tickets have now gone on sale and can be booked here. If you buy your tickets before Christmas, use the code DEVIOUS10 to get them for only €10. Heart Shaped Vinyl will crank up its jukebox in Cleeres Theatre, Kilkenny for eight performances only from 18th-21st and 25th-28th May 2016. The rest of our Devious 10 programme will be launched in the new year. For more details, keep an eye on this here website. Props to Paddy Dunne, who designed the very first Heart Shaped Vinyl teaser in 2006 and who delivered another cracker here for the reissue.
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The Centre Of The Universe

war-of-attrition-programme-6We're delighted to announce that our next production will be The Centre Of The Universe, a one man show written and performed by John Doran. Originally performed as one of the Show In A Bag offerings at the 2014 Tiger Dublin Fringe festival, we're delighted to be taking on production duties for this acclaimed show as it tours throughout 2015. It's the first time we've produced a one man show and it's great to finally have the opportunity to do so. The show is directed by John Morton who returns to the Devious directing saddle having last directed Phantasm in 2012. The Centre Of The Universe tells the story of John, a young man down on his luck, unemployed and drinking too much. On the day of his first job interview for ages, his neuroses and insecurities come crashing down on him resulting in a whole new way of approaching life. John decides to set up his own cult. And he's at the centre of it. Over the course of this engaging, informative talk, he explains how you can join him...
I was just idling around life rather than taking any control of my own. And it made me feel so, inadequate. Alone. Real Loneliness. A bit depressed I guess you could say. Bored. Lonely. Time just passing me by. Feeling alone in the universe.
The received unanimously positive reviews during it's first run and we're delighted to be taking the play to Cork for Quarter Block Party on February 6th before bringing it for a home town jaunt in Cleere's Theatre, Kilkenny from February 11th-14th. Tickets for Cork can be purchased here and tickets for Kilkenny will be going on sale soon. The show will then be returning later in the year for more national dates. Join us...
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