Potted Potter: An interview with the Creators (and an awesome giveaway!)

Dan and Jeff, out of the Broom Cupboard!

Dan and Jeff, out of the Broom Cupboard!

The Barn Owl and I are big fans of the Harry Potter book series by J.K Rowling, which is why we are both super excited about ‘Potted Potter’, a brilliant stage parody of the books from the Harry Potter series coming to Singapore next week!

‘Potted Potter’ is brought to us by the British comedy duo Dan and Jeff, former CBBC presenters, and they are so full of energy and fun, the show is going to be such fun to watch even if you haven’t read the Harry Potter books yet. Dan and Jeff have made a series of hilarious stage parodies of popular book series, and I personally think it is wonderful how they use these shows to champion the cause of children’s literacy!
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity conduct a very brief interview with Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner, the brilliant minds and actors from ‘Potted Potter’.
1. I have heard that ‘Potted Potter‘ is a mix of scripted performance and improvisation. What are some of the wildest or most memorable improvs that you (or your actors) have had done during ‘Potted Potter‘?

JEFF TURNER: We really enjoy keeping the show fresh by improvising (or messing around) every show. We have some new bits that have been used more than once, but the most fun ones are those that occur to you on the spot, and if at all possible, throw the other person (or send them into a fit of giggles). The audience enjoy the show most when we enjoy ourselves, and if they see us finding what we are doing fun or funny, then they are going to have a good time. I think my favourite improvising, that I can think of, is a show in Canada, when Dan slipped as one character, and landed heavily on his back. We then had a lot of fun coming up with reasons why all of the following characters were in pain, and moving with a limp. Dan really hurt himself in that one, so may not remember it quite so fondly…

DAN CLARKSON: Most of the wildest moments I remember come from when we play Quidditch! We bring two kids up on stage to be seekers and there is no way you can ever script what’s going to happen next. Everyday is different and keeps the show fresh.

2. What were the major challenges that you faced in translating all 7 of the Harry Potter books from page to stage, and how did you work around them?

DAN CLARKSON: I think the greatest challenge was to take some of the books major set moments and translate them to the stage.

Like Harry’s first meeting with Voldemort in the graveyard. A spectacular and terrifying moment in the book, and hard to portray with just the two of us! So we came at it from a different angle, and I think the might be one of my favourite parts of the show! (You haven’t lived until you’ve seen he who shall not be named strutting around to Tina Turners ‘Simply the best’!)

JEFF TURNER: Obviously the sheer volume of material was the biggest challenge. There are thousands and thousands of pages, that we had to condense into a 70 minute show. When we very first came to forming the beginnings of the show back in 2005, Dan was a big fan of the books, and I hadn’t read them. So we were armed with Dan’s hazy memories and my research (which was 5 one page synopses from the internet – one for each book that then existed). This mixture meant we were able to pinpoint what seemed the most important events and characters in each book, and highlighted that the books are mainly about the battle between Harry and Voldemort. We then threw all this hard work out of the window, and just put on an array of silly hats and sillier voices!

3. What message would you like children to take away from the show?

DANIEL CLARKSON: Study hard, keep up with your magic and the owl from Hogwarts will be on it’s way. And while you wait, come play Quidditch with us!

JEFF TURNER:  One of the things we are most passionate about is children’s literacy. We have always both loved books and reading, and were lucky that we were encouraged to do so as kids. Not every kid is encouraged to do so, but Harry Potter managed to make reading cool again. When I was little it was Roald Dahl, and now it is JK Rowling. I don’t think any series of books will ever be quite this big again, and if the boy wizard can’t get you into reading, then nothing will! Also, the more you read, the more chance you have of becoming a doctor or a lawyer, and not ending up like a couple of bum actors making fools of themselves in silly wigs, to earn a living!

Here’s a little sneak preview at what you can expect from their show:

A Bonus for Owls Well Readers: The fine folk at ‘Potted Potter’ are giving away ONE PAIR OF TICKETS to their opening show on Tuesday, 9 September, 730pm! Woohoo!

To take part in the Giveaway just:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook page
  2. Be a fan of the Potted Potter Facebook page
  3. Visit the Potted Potter Website and leave a comment below telling me what catches your eye about this show. Don’t forget to include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)
  4. (For bonus entries, share this post on any form of social media that you fancy, leaving me a separate comment with the link!)

(Giveaway is open to readers in Singapore and will end at noon on 5th Sept 2014. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been emailed. Thanks for playing!

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