Friday, November 27, 2015

It's been a busy year for Truman Town so far. Having just come off a tour of their fourth and most recent production - Velvet Revolution - the gang ventured straight down to Kerry for Listowel Writer's Week with their hit Play - Shortcut to Hallelujah. A side splitting comedy about Mayo playing Kerry in the All-Ireland, there was no doubt that the show would be a big success down there. Having just returned the gang's sights are now firmly set on the next major production - FIVE nights in Galway's Town Hall Theatre with Shortcut to Hallelujah. The Play rides on Truman Town's growing popularity and reputation for high quality theatre combined with unforgettable comedy. Their previous productions in the last twelve months include Sunday Morning Coming Down which went on a National Tour and sold out to rave reviews and standing ovations all over the country. Encouraged by this success, Donnellan and the gang went on to perform in the Galway Theatre Festival (2011) with their Play - Gun Metal Grey and once again received rapturous applause and standing ovations from a sell-out crowd. The Plays - written by Ballinrobe man Mick Donnellan - are hilarious yet dark anecdotes of small town Irish life. Raw and honest, yet beautifully lyrical there is no doubt that the Irish Theatre Magazine were on the mark when they said - "This is Powerful Theatre." Read on for more details about Shortcut to Hallelujah. "....and the curse was put on the team that said - Mayo will never win another All-Ireland until everyone on that team is dead..." About "...A fresh voice in Irish Writing...." Irish Theatre Magazine. Shortcut to Hallelujah is the hilarious drama set during the run up to the All-Ireland Football final. Mayo are playing Kerry and the clientele of Quinn's Bar, Ballinrobe, are certain the Sam McGuire is coming West at last. There's only one problem. Rumours begin to surface of a curse on the team. The last time time Mayo won they celebrated so loud that they upset a Traveller's funeral and it was decreed that they would never win another All-Ireland again until everyone on the team was dead. It's now over sixty years later and only one player remains alive. His name is Christy Hession and his health "...isn't great..." All eager ears are on the radio as everyone listens to the Death Notices in the hope that the curse might be lifted before the upcoming game! Meanwhile, young Chris McGuire is in a bitter dispute with local landgrabber, Black Tom Tully. The argument dates back to an incident with McGuire's father some years before. A land deal went wrong when Tully accused Old McGuire of refusing to buy his round of Brandy and the two men became sworn enemies ever after. Chris has inherited the quarrel and is adamant that Tom Tully won't get a "...blade of grass..." Eimear, played by the beautiful Kate McCarthy, is the tragic fiance of Chris. Despite her best efforts, she can't reconcile herself to a life in Ballinrobe, but her attempts to leave always prove more difficult than she imagined. The Play crescendos as the day of the big match arrives and nobody can say for certain what's going to happen. Will Christy Hession survive? Should the bookies take the curse into account when considering what odds to give Mayo? Or Kerry? And will Tom Tully succeed in wrestling the bitter land from Chris McGuire by force if his legal conniving fails? Perhaps we should ask Doc, the simpleton bachelor that's never without a sandwich or a sausage in his pocket, the one that always finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and his only excuse being "...sure I'm only saying what everyone else is thinking anyway..."! After huge success with their previous original Plays such as Sunday Morning Coming Down and Gun Metal Grey, Truman Town have produced their best work to date. Guaranteed to have you in tears of side-splitting laughter with unforgettable quotes, characters and all out comedy, Shortcut to Hallelujah is tipped to be the most talked about Play of the Summer. "...Sufficient laughter to bring tears...." Irish Theatre Magazine about Sunday Morning Coming Down. Truman Town Theatre Presents - Following the phenomenal tour of Sunday Morning Coming Down and Gun Metal Grey.... Shortcut to Hallelujah For a FIVE night run @ Town Hall, Theatre, Galway. June 26th until June 30th Doors open 7.30 Bookings can be made by calling (091) 569777 or http://tht.ie/1425/Shortcut-To-Hallelujah Media Contact: Mick Donnellan (087) 9422942 Mickdonnellan@hotmail.com "....I only dhrink it ta hide the truth - one way into this world, and one way out. Me and you, we don't belong anywhere else..." Chris Mcguire - played by Cathal Leonard - in Shortcut to Hallelujah. "....bring back Willie-Joe...." Doc, Played by P.J. Moore in Shortcut to Hallelujah. Cast include - P.J. Moore, Cathal Leonard, Mike O'Connor, Sean O'Maille, Kate McCarthy, Darren Killeen, Jerry Fitzgerald, Conor McDonagh Flynn, Michelle Henson and Gerry Howard. History of Truman Town and Mick Donnellan and the influence of MIKE DISKIN I started writing myself in 2004 after I completed the M.A in Writing in 2004. Following that I wrote a novel which was immediately picked up by an agent. While I was waiting for a breakthrough in the fiction I traveled the world for about three years during which time I wrote a Play called - Sunday Morning Coming Down. I sent that to Druid and they got interested in doing it for the New Writer's Programme. We worked on it for about nine months and had a public reading with Druid for the Arts Festival in July 2009. It was a tremendous success. It sold out and was thoroughly enjoyed by the crowd. I worked on it for a few more months with Druid but in the end they decided not to bring it to a full production. I was living in Canada at the time and decided to return there and pursue my writing career across the water. Having returned to Vancouver, I connected with some other writers and we decided to set up a Newspaper. It was called Urban Pie and became a big success over there. I worked as the Arts and Entertainment Editor and reviewed countless Plays, Restaurants, Bars, Bands and Artists. I also worked with an Irish Newspaper out there called the Celtic Connection. I ran a series of articles that welcomed Irish Immigrants to Canada. Gave them a profile on what they were qualified to do, what kind of work they were looking for, why they came to Canada, how long they intended to stay etc...following that, we made sure the article and details were sent to every potential employer in Vancouver to ensure that any Irish people that came to us were almost guaranteed to be set up with a job. By now it was 20011 and my Visa was about to expire so I decided to come home for a while. I returned in August and immediately tested the drama market to see if there was anyone interested in dong my Play -Sunday Morning Coming Down - while I was home. I got some initial interest from company in Dublin - The New Theatre - but after some differences with the director I decided it wasn't best for the Play to go ahead. At about this time, I was approached by a production company in Galway. They were preparing an application for the RTE Storyland competition and they needed a writer to work on four episodes of a web series. I took the project on and also took part in some of the casting and production side of things. I was amazed at the talent around Galway and the potential to make serious films and theatre on acceptable budgets. It was then I decided to produce Sunday Morning Coming Down myself. I went into Mike Diskin in the Town Hall and he agreed that the Play might be worth putting on. He gave a five night slot in the Town Hall Studio and said "...Don't come back to me again without a cast..." The auditions went great. I got very lucky with some of the best actors in the city. Some of them were also set designers and drama teachers and between us we put together a great show. March 29th was the opening night and it sold out right away. The next day, a Wednesday, the word of mouth was so strong about the Play that the next four nights SOLD OUT to great demand. It as also reviewed by the Irish Theatre Magazine and you can read that review here. http://www.irishtheatremagazine.ie/Reviews/Current/Sunday-Morning-Coming-Down Demand soared after that first week. We decided to bring the Play on tour. Three weeks later we brought the Play to Lisloughrey Lodge in Cong, Co. Mayo. We converted the Ballroom into a theatre and sold out for two nights running to crowds of 180 each night. Following that Mike Diskin asked us back on to the Main Stage in Galway's Town Hall and again we received tremendous crowds. Over the next two months we toured the Play to Ballinrobe, Cork, Clare, Castlebar and eventually brought it back up to Dublin, to The New Theatre in Temple Bar, and put it on as our own independent Production. We sold out five nights and made a lasting impression in the Capital. It was also about that time that the results of the Storyland competition were announced. We won with our entry - Lucky Run. Beating 32 other film makers and screenwriters around the country. Shortcut to Hallelujah. During the tour, I continued to write. Mike had offered us another week long run in the Town Hall Studio and it important to have some new material ready. Shortcut to Hallelujah came about right after we finished in Dublin. We opened in August for six nights in the Studio and again, we Sold Out. There was a lot of demand for a new Play from myself and the company and no better subject matter to use that Mayo Football! About Shortcut to Hallelujah . Shortcut to Hallelujah is the hilarious drama set during the run up to the All-Ireland Football final. Mayo are playing Kerry and the clientele of Quinn's Bar, Ballinrobe, are certain the Sam McGuire is coming West at last. There's only one problem. Rumours begin to surface of a curse on the team. The last time time Mayo won they celebrated so loud that they upset a Traveller's funeral and it was decreed that they would never win another All-Ireland again until everyone on the team was dead. It's now over sixty years later and only one player remains alive. His name is Christy Hession and his health "...isn't great..." All eager ears are on the radio as everyone listens to the Death Notices in the hope that the curse might be lifted before the upcoming game! Meanwhile, young Chris McGuire is in a bitter dispute with local landgrabber, Black Tom Tully. The argument dates back to an incident with McGuire's father some years before. A land deal went wrong when Tully accused Old McGuire of refusing to buy his round of Brandy and the two men became sworn enemies ever after. Chris has inherited the quarrel and is adamant that Tom Tully won't get a "...blade of grass..." Eimear, played by the beautiful Kate McCarthy, is the tragic fiance of Chris. Despite her best efforts, she can't reconcile herself to a life in Ballinrobe, but her attempts to leave always prove more difficult than she imagined. The Play crescendos as the day of the big match arrives and nobody can say for certain what's going to happen. Will Christy Hession survive? Should the bookies take the curse into account when considering what odds to give Mayo? Or Kerry? And will Tom Tully succeed in wrestling the bitter land from Chris McGuire by force if his legal conniving fails? Perhaps we should ask Doc, the simpleton bachelor that's never without a sandwich or a sausage in his pocket, the one that always finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and his only excuse being "...sure I'm only saying what everyone else is thinking anyway..."! After huge success with their previous original Plays such as Sunday Morning Coming Down and Gun Metal Grey, Truman Town have produced their best work to date. Guaranteed to have you in tears of side-splitting laughter with unforgettable quotes, characters and all out comedy, Shortcut to Hallelujah is tipped to be the most talked about Play of the Summer. "...Sufficient laughter to bring tears...." Irish Theatre Magazine about Sunday Morning Coming Down. Gun Metal Grey Following that, we were invited to take part in the Galway Theatre Festival for which I wrote a third Play titled - Gun Metal Grey. That was in October of the same year once again, we sold out. Gun Metal Grey was the last installment of what we've come to term as a "loosely based trilogy....". It was also reviewed and it can read here. http://www.irishtheatremagazine.ie/Reviews/Current/Galway-Theatre-Festival About this time, I got talking to Mike Diskin some more about the future and the fact that we seemed to be on to something. He was a great man for advice and always eager to steer me and the company in the right direction. We agreed it was time for a major production. Something which would give the company a full run on a professional stage and show the world that we can achieve top class standards both as Artists and when drawing a crowd. This was when the June show was decided upon Mike backed up the company all the way until his unfortunate passing in March of this year. He made sure we wellcovered in the programme and always gave us full use of the Town Hall as well as helping us overcome any obstacles along the way (technical support, rehearsal space, advice...) Christmas passed. The year wore on. We performed Shortcut to Hallelujah in Castlebar and Listowel. Both shows were very well received and again, demand grew as more people were eager to see what they heard was a side splitting comedy. I had split ways with my fiction agent some time before. Now, with the success of producing my own shows, I decided to publish the book myself. It's a crime novel set in Galway and Ballinrobe. It was launched in February this year and it's selling very well. You can read more about that here. http://originalwriting.ie/bookshop/fiction/general-fiction/el-nino/ Velvet Revolution Following that, we put together a fourth and quite different production called Velvet Revolution. About Velvet Revolution is an exciting new Play from Truman Town Theatre. Having dazzled audiences in Kerry and Mayo, the drama is now set to make it's powerful debut in Galway. In typical fashion, the drama is dialogue based with lots of wit, sarcasm and black humour. Fyodor and Shelly are a young couple living in an undisclosed town in the rural Ireland. Shelly is the beautiful seductive blonde that torments the insecure Fyodor with her adulterous antics and behaviour. She constantly alludes to the men she met at the bar, her past lovers and the lack of excitement in her marriage by comparison. Fyodor plays the struggling writer, a victim to naive romance and artistic values, he uses gambling to escape what he believes are the torments of his tortured soul. We enter the Play at a point where Fyodor has lost an incredible amount of money and is now in the dangerous debt of loan shark, Kevin. Shelly has just returned home to announce that she met the same Kevin by chance and took the opportunity to invite him over for dinner! Fyodor is in turmoil over this, sure that it's a plot to kill him. The drama escalates as the time of Kevin's arrival draws closer. Fyodor is sure that there's more to Shelly's story but if so, she's doing anything but admit it. Instead she drinks large brandys, smokes a lot and berates him for his lack of talent, both as a writer and a gambler. At times dark, others hilarious, and often touching, Truman Town have produced one of their best works to date. Using only two actors, and a minimal set, the Play is a feast of tension, humour, suspense and ultimately a delightful illustration of the bizarre Irish psyche. From writer Mick Donnellan, that brought you Sell-out shows such as Sunday Morning Coming Down (Sold Out National Tour 2011) Shortcut to Hallelujah (Sold out tour of Connaught 2011) and Gun Metal Grey (Sold out Galway Theatre Festival 2011) This is a show to be hotly anticipated and not to be missed! This is the fourth Production from Truman Town Theatre. Their Play Shortcut to Hallelujah will take the Main Stage, Galway on June 26th for five nights until June 30th.That's right after Druidmurphy and just before the Volvo Ocean race. It's a big slot to fill, but the company feel ready. "...it seems to be a natural progression....we're already a professional outfit, so it's time to be doing big professional shows on a regular basis..." says Cathal Leonard, regular actor with the company. "....we've had great support from the Town Hall this last year, and particularly from Mike Diskin in there, and we're eager to meet that faith with a quality production...after we do Velvet Revolution in April we're going burying our dramatic heads into the June show and won't be emerging again except to rock the place on June 25th. Shortcut to Hallelujah..." You can also find more details about and bookings for Shortcut to Hallelujah here http://tht.ie/1425/Shortcut-To-Hallelujah Velvet Revolution Review - http://www.irishtheatremagazine.ie/Reviews/Current/Velvet-Revolution . You can keep up to date with Truman Town on any of the following links: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Truman-Town-Theatre/249660605073492 http://originalwriting.ie/bookshop/fiction/general-fiction/el-nino/

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

So we're in the big Tesco in Hove this morning picking up a few bits. In the store, they have those cashier-free cashier desks that allow you to scan your own shopping, feed your money into the machine and leave without so much as clapping eyes on a member of staff. All very convenient. All very "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."

Except. Except. The computer system is of such glacial ponderousness, the bar code scanner is so temperamental, the touch screen that allows you to key in how many packets of lard and cans of budget lager you're buying is so insensitive, the "jolly" splosh! noise the machine makes when you scan an item is so ulcer inducing, that by the time I was feeding my twenty pound note into the machine - like trying to stuff a marshmallow into a test tube - I was on the verge of going Krakatoa. From soup to nuts the whole transaction took at least three times longer than if we'd gone to a human cashier and the stress it induced has probably shortened my life by considerably more.

And then realization. Which didn't help my temper. The machines aren't there to make the customer's shopping experience any more quicker, more easier, more pleasant or any less dispiriting or less soulless or less "In the low-ceilinged canteen, deep underground, the lunch queue jerked slowly forward". They're there so Tesco doesn't have to employ so many drones with all the overheads that that entails. It's about buying yet more fur-trimmed solid jade commodes for the corpulent amoral shysters at the top of the tree.

I'd be tempted to try and comfort the rest of us by saying they can't take it all with them when they're finally dragged screaming to the new and exciting circle of Hell that's currently being built for them*. But in my darker moments I think that they've probably worked out a way to do it. I bet when the likes of the chairman of Tesco or Digby Jones or Tony Blair or Polly Toynbee are inducted into The Greater Good, right after they've had their HIV/AIDS and bird flu vaccinations and been measured up for their jetpacks, they're shown the teleport technology - powered, literally, by the sweat of the lower classes - that will allow them to send their wealth into the afterlife.

I think the reason nothing works in this country - trains always late, government computer systems always vastly overdue lemons, our troops dangerously and criminally undersupplied in battle, and the rest of the fourth-largest-economy-in-the-world-my-arse incompetence - is that the cream of the scientific community have been commandeered for the likes of building said teleporter or making Blair's hair just the right shade of Statesman Grey or making Digby Jones look just that little bit less smug (you should have seen him before the £600m was spent).

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