Working on stories with John Morton was like being in the middle of a huge fireworks display

John Morton (centre front) with fellow cast members Seán Hackett, Dave Thompson, Ken McGuire and Alan Butler in ‘Wild Harvest’ by Ken Bourke which was staged by ‘Watergate Productions’. Photo by Ross Costigan

A Kilkenny man, John Morton, has been announced as the winner of the Edgar Allan Poe award for best television programme.
Morton, from Stephen Street in Kilkenny, is well known in his hometown both as an actor and a writer.
Back in the 90’s he was part of young Irish Film makers and Dreamstuff theatre.
Along with some likeminded theatre folk, he went on to form Devious Theatre company who performed some wonderful shows in Kilkenny and Dublin.
Devious Theatre were founded in Kilkenny in 2006. They performed different works in different spaces for different audiences using different methods.
They performed over thirty shows , picked up awards along their way, and their work featured at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Cork Midsummer Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, Galway Theatre Festival, to name but a few.

This particular award is a major feather in the hat of Morton.
Mind you, no one can deny that John hasn’t put in the man hours and his journey in the world of theatre has been filled with a lot of hard work.

One man who has seen Morton progress from a youngster staring out and learning the ropes to an award winning writer is his long-time friend and one time mentor Mike Kelly.
Mike who has been synonymous with theatre and film making for many years spoke to The Kilkenny Observer regarding John’s award.
“Working on stories with John Morton was like being in the middle of a huge fireworks display. Ideas just exploded out of him. He wrote several scripts for Young Irish Film Makers. I remember having what we called spit ball sessions (don’t ask!) trying to come up with ideas for Suckers, a school vampire film. I had to reluctantly reject his idea of blowing up a giant water tank full of holy water that would kill all the school vampires!
When Dreamstuff Youth Theatre was created in 2000, John, who was also a fine actor, gave memorable performances in ‘Life of Brian’ and ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’. For our first Christmas play John suggested ‘Treasure Island’. We started spit balling ideas and then both of us wrote scenes for the play. Very few of my scenes remained in the final version! I discovered that John was a born storyteller and genius, who had read every classic novel in the entire history of classic novels and he remembered all their plots!
So I was delighted to hear he won a well-deserved award for his brilliant script for the television series, ‘Dead Still’, which I suspect was heavily inspired from his Christmas 2003 Dreamstuff play, ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Cult of Dracula’! I can hear John’s voice in every character in Dead Still, but particularly the Castle detective, Frederick O’Hare, a role that John Morton should have played. I look forward to the possibility of seeing another Kilkenny name as a nominee for an Oscar. Now, that would really be the stuff of dreams!”

The awards are issued by the Mystery Writers of America, honouring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television.
Created by Morton, and starring Michael Smiley, the droll dramedy is set in 1880s’ Dublin in the Victorian era heyday of ‘postmortem photography’, when a recently deceased loved one is pictured for posterity with their family.
The six-episode first season – recently broadcast on RTÉ One – follows renowned memorial photographer Brock Blennerhasset (played by Smiley) who is drawn towards a series of deaths which appear to be linked to his work.
Dead Still also stars Aidan O’Hare as Frederick Regan, an officer of the Dublin Metrpolitan Police, Eileen O’Higgins as Nancy Vickers, Brock’s niece and an aspiring actress, Kerr Logan as Conall Malloy, a gravedigger and Brock’s assistant, and Jimmy Smallhorne as Cecil Carruthers, Brocker’s carriage driver.
The Irish/Canadian co-production is produced by Deadpan Pictures (Ireland) and Shaftesbury (Canada) in association with RTÉ, Acorn TV with Acorn Media Enterprises, ZDF Enterprises, and the BAI.
Dead Still – Season 1 is available to view on the RTÉ Player.

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