Monday, 10 June 2013

We've Got Stage Fever. Finnish Style.

That's right we have got ourselves some mighty stage fever brewing up, but let us explain why.
Last week Spark Productions along with Devious Theatre and a member of the Kilkenny Leader Partnership hit the blue skies for Finland. 
Here we are outside a lovely cottage in KaanKanpaa.(L to R) Alison Allan, John Morton & Meself(Adrian Kavanagh)

But why go to Finland is the big question and what did we leave with?
The main part of our journey was to arrive in Kaankanpaa a small town with a population of about 12,000. 
It is in this town that Finland has a Festival called Rammpikuume(Meaning Stage Fever). This festival brings youth from all over Finland together to perform Theatre, Music and workshops together in this one small town and from what we have seen, it's a lot of fun.
The Festivals Logo.

We were there to fly the flag for Irish theatre discuss there festival and find out how we can contribute to this. That's right we are going international.
On the Wednesday, we were brought sight seeing in the morning before our meetings with the Festival peeps , Krista our point of contact for this whole thing, first brought us out to Jami Javi, a place full of wooden cottages, reindeer and the worlds first underground ski slope. We didn't get to do any skiing but it was cool to see.
Meself & John Morton flew the plane. A great bunch of lads.

That morning getting to see very much a lot of rural Finland we were impressed by it's beauty. Getting to talk to Krista during lunch I couldn't help but see how much their nature meant to them and how proud they were of it.
After the sight seeing we made our way to Kaankanpaa and then had a small bite in the local cafe until it was then time to go for our main meeting. 
Krista drove us out to a local hotel where members of the festival had arranged to meet us for some lunch.

After this it was on to where the Rammpikuume festival was held.
So they brought us back to school. The festival which will hit 18 years in April 2014 all takes place in the local secondary school, it was here we would really get the idea of how this project will work, what will be involved and what the end goal of this will be.

As we got in to business, we started getting logistically in to how feasible and how not so feasible some of the goals they wanted to achieve were. We have to remember that this is a transnational project after all. With this we have to take in to account language barriers.

So what are we to do?

The goal for the festival is for us Spark Productions return to Finland next April with a gang and perform a piece of theatre. This piece will also be performed based on the same brief with other countries such as Italy, Malta, Czech Republic & Bulgaria.
After that we hope to bring Finland over to Graig next summer and visit our rural town.

Project YES is a lot more than theatre travelling internationally. For us as a group it it giving us opportunities to build ourselves in ways that would not have been possible with out it.
We feel this project will not alone benefit us but also Graiguenamanagh too. As much as we are a theatre company who's main goal is to entertain we are also there to help benefit Graiguenamangh whatever way we can.
This project will take less than a year. We are excited to have Devious Theatre on board to mentor and help develop us as a company. This is the city reaching out with it's hand and bringing us along, to show us skills, and give us training that without Project YES would never have been possible, and we are truly delighted.

After the meeting, that evening we were brought to an amazing wooden log cabin. It was here that they served us some amazing food. We must say that there hospitality was amazing. We met volunteers who had been working with the festival for years & years and they couldn't help but tell us how happy they were to have us here. 

After the meal and some fine moose for dinner. It was time to say our goodbyes. There was hugs and gifts. We told them how forward we looked to returning and they were too.

On the Thursday we went sightseeing in Tampere, a city which was about an hour away from where we were staying. And what was that like, great. But what happens in Tampere stays in Tampere.

Over the coming months you will be hearing a lot more about Project YES and what we will be doing in Graig as part of the project.

For now we are delighted with this, and we hope you share our enthusiasm.

We've got stage fever. Finnish style.

Monday, 3 June 2013

To Kankaanpaa & Back Again.

In a couple of weeks Spark Productions will be hitting it's second birthday. That's right on July 1st we will be two years old. Don't be scared to send us an ole postcard. We are going to be that little bit older and hopefully that little bit smarter and wiser.

The very first Spark play. One For The Road which performed in the Duiske Inn in August 2011.

Well as we get that little bit older and we start to spread our wings and venture outside of Graig and build up our fanbase, opportunities start to come our way. Opportunities that are too big and too valuable to turn away.

This year is going to be a hugely exciting one for us. With bringing Brownbread to the Watergate Theatre(June 20th) and then on to the final night in St Michaels New Ross(June 28th), yes this is just one of the many things that we will be doing this year.

So what is Kankaanpaa you ask? Kankaanpaa is a lovely town situated outside Tampere in Finland. What has that got to do with us? Well read on friends!

It's many a time we are asked what we are up to and what's the next show going to be. Anyone who has done work with us will tell you how much we love keeping things secret, then BOOM we hit you with it.

This is going to be the biggest news we may ever possible deliver so here's the scoop.

Spark Productions are going to Finland!!!! Why?

This Is KanKaanpaa.

Well over the past few months, since the end of 2012, we have been working with the KIlkenny Leadership Partnership on a transnational project(very fancy, we know). This transnational project began in Finland and the programme is all about developing theatre in rural areas.

With this we are also proud to say that Graiguenamanagh will be the town representing Ireland in this project, with countries from all over Europe including Italy, Malta and Bulgaria.

The programme is called Y.E.S, standing for Youngsters on The European Stage. The main goal of this is for us to develop a new play and along with the other countries, present this new work next summer, along with the rest of them.

But that's not all.

This project has lots and we mean lots of other developing projects that come with it. That we are proud to say will not alone benefit us but also the town we are so proud to be from, Graiguenamanagh. We won't go in to details but, like, as we say keep some mystery until another time.

One thing we can say is that we will be working with another theatre company. They are legends in the southeast and are truly inspirations to us. Tomorrow John Morton of Devious Theatre in Kilkenny will be coming on the flight along with Alison Allan of KLP and Adrian Kavanagh of, well, Spark Productions.

John Morton(Right) with Ken McGuire drinking tae. #countrystyle

Devious Theatre have been going since 2006, bringing work that has never been seen in Kilkenny before and also developing exciting new & original writing. Show's such as Night Of The Living Dead, Trainspotting, Shifting and Bash to name but a few. They have really done an amazing job bringing new life along with a new audience to theatre in Kilkenny and a company that we can honestly say, without them, we would not exist.

Spark & Devious will be working together to help develop Spark Productions further and help us with the workload that will be taken place over the coming year & beyond. We are proud & delighted to have them on board.

Tomorrow will see us jet off to Finland to discuss with the other member countries our plans for the project, an ole meet & greet if you will. We will be wearing our sharpest suits and fancy shoes, and we hope to bring back lots of pics.

We will have more news soon, but for now that's the big scoop of the week.

All we can say is, we are unbelievably excited and we hope to do ourselves and Graiguenamanagh proud.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Here Comes The Sun.

All this good weather we are having this week is having us reminisce about our youth. T'was a simpler time, when kids could play wrestling on stacks of hay & cartoons where definitely a lot more craic.
And who could forget, Ray Darcy on the Den with Zig & Zag.

There he is now, having the craic, with herself.

Any who, one thing summer means is ice-cream. Ice cream in all shapes and sizes. Today we are going to show you some of our very own favorite ice creams.
We'll start off with a nice simple one.

Money wasn't as ramp-id in the 90's, as it was in Celtic tiger times. But back in the day for a whole tence pence you could get one of these bad boys. Hell for a fifty pence coin you could grab five of them and suck away to your hearts delight. Leaving you with a rainbow of colour around your lips.

Next up we have the classic loop de loop.

We haven't seen one of these in years. The cover used to have some mad lad on an airplane going loop de loop as it were. If you didn't feel like a Mr Freeze then 25p would have you sorted, you'd also get a little bit of chocolate.

That yeti sure did know how to enjoy his ice cream. The iceberger was a bit more upper class, but not as fancy as the magnum, so it still gave you street cred. The only thing about the iceberger was that if it was one of those really hot days & we mean really hot, you'd be licking the sides of it as soon as you opened the thing. Ice cream should be something you can just sit back and enjoy, not worry about get sticky hands.

Of course then there was this beast.

The Magnum was the king of ice creams. Priced somewhere between 1 pound and a mortgage , if you were eating one of these as a kid, you were loaded. Most often than not you would only get this on a very special day, such as your birthday or for being exceptionally good at Mass.

The true kind though surely has to be the classic 99.

It's popularity is undeniable, if ice cream was music it would be Michael Jackson.
There was nothing like a day at tramore and a few 99's with the flakes, to make you feel that you had succeeded in life.
The 99 is full proof that the classic is best

You may ask way all this talk of ice cream?

Well you will find that answer out, very soon.


Don't forget to follow us on twitter @sparkstheatre

And follow us on Facebook at Spark Productions.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

brownbread For All, And All For Brownbread.

We are just two weeks off to the start of June and the summer madness is surely to heat up then. But speaking of heat, let's talk Brownbread. See what we did there? Brownbread, heat, oven? You get it.
Anywho, Brownbread first hit the stage in December 2012 in Graiguenamnagh Abbey Hall.

The show has been without doubt been our biggest success to date. Why? Well a number of reasons, we suppose. The promo, the name value of Roddy Doyle, the fan base we have built to date with our first two show's One For The Road & Bittersweet Graffiti. But we believe the biggest reason was the cast.

Edel Bolger as Mrs Murray.

Our first two show's dealt with people in their late teens and early adulthood years. It was just to right time to mix things up of instead of opting for another romantic teen comedy. The problem though was that we felt that whatever show we did it had to center on young people. Brownbread was perfect. It was three young lads with a host of other characters all of different ages. It was chance to get some of the Duiske Players back on stage and also bring in some new faces that had yet to be seen. One's which we are sure we will work with again in other productions.

David Behan as Lt. Bukowski

A few weeks ago an article was posted online about Steven Soderbergh and his retirement. In the article he talked of how art is supposed to be in the moment, and that's how we feel about Brownbread. It was fresh( No puns intended) and something not only the cast & crew got excited about but also the entire community of Graiguenamanagh. Now that is art, and that is why, like One For The Road, Brownbread will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Jim Kielty & Jackie Douglas as Mr & Mrs Farrell

The challenge for us here at Spark Productions is to broaden our audience, to enter a stage we have never been before and have people there to watch our show and be entertained.
How can you help you may ask? Simple. If you have seen the show in the Abbey Hall, then tell everyone you know about it. Share and like our page or even this blog.
Just like the people who bought tickets and all our fans out there who got behind us for all our show's to date, you can also get behind us by not just buying a tickets but also just spreading the word.

This should be Brownbread for all!

Now that is the business.


Brownbread is set to hit the Watergate theatre stage on June 20th and then on to St Michaels in New Ross on June 28th. Tickets are 10 euro for each show.

The tickets are available to buy at or

Note: Strong language used throughout.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Back To Brownbread.

We announced yesterday morning that Brownbread was to return.
This time we are making tracks and hitting the road.
Spark Productions is nearly two years old and since we were founded it was always the plan to get outside of Graiguenamanagh and bring our work to wherever we would be let.

This June will see us attacking two great venues... First the Watergate Theatre on Thursday June 20th and then we will make our way the following week to St Micheals Theatre in New Ross for Friday June 28th.
Of course we would also like to sincerely thank Ger Cody at the Watergate theatre & Tomas Kavanagh at St Micheals for agreeing to take us on board and show their town's what Spark Productions have to offer.

One of the most important things for us to realize now is that since we have always said we have wanted to tour,  why now?
The realization is that we are ready to hit the road.
Brownbread without doubt has been our most successful production to date and one we will always hold very close to our hearts.
This great comedy by Roddy Doyle we feel is the perfect play to introduce ourselves to Kilkenny City and New Ross and with that we hope that all the locals come along  to say hello to the Sparks.
This time we mean business.

So that's what we are going to be up to in June, but you may just get to see us before that. We won't say anymore for now, but just leave you with this picture.
That's right...It is a Bunny.

And it's adorable.