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.