Dedicated journalist on all things Potted Potter,and Dudley Dursley apologistBrian Guof Craccum has managed to get an interview with one of the hottest plays coming our way this year: Potted Potter, an unauthorised parody of the books coming from the minds of Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, two actors/comedians that have struck gold with their iconic play. Brian gets the story from Dan himself, and there’s a lot to be excited over!
For our Craccum audience, would you be able to summarise what your play is about?
Yeah, we do a show called Potted Potter, which basically takes all seven Potter books and performs them all in 70 minutes, with [Jefferson Turner] playing Harry Potter and leaving me playing all 360 other characters, from Voldemort to Dumbledore to a fire-breathing dragon… and at 6’4, I’m probably the best Hermione Granger you’ll ever see.
(laughs) How did this all start? What was the idea behind this?
This one goes back 14 years now, which makes me sound far too old! It goes back to the publication of the 6th book, Half Blood Prince. It had one of its midnight launches at a bookstore in London on Oxford Street, and they wanted something to entertain the crowd while they queued up in the middle of the night. Jeff and I were two actors searching for a job at the time, and we had this ideawhere we’d recap the previous five books 15 minutes at a time in order to get everyone up to speed before they bought the new book. We performed there and it went really well, and eventually we went to Edinburgh and performed the 6th book there, and it sold out! And that’s big news, as the average audience size there is about (a bit more than) three people. We thought ‘we’re on to something here’ and met with producers, and it’s been touring since! Bigger and bigger, and to be honest, we’re just two mates waiting for immigration to realise we’re just messing around and kick us out!
What’s the scope of your tour? Where are you going?
Yeah, well, Jeff and I just got back from Alaska… just came back from Manila, we have a show announced in Sydney, we’re getting ready to open in Las Vegas, in America… which is just unbelievable.
Yeah! Wow! Congratulations, man. We look forward to having you.
Thanks, yeah, we’re really looking forward to Auckland since that is the end of the Australasian Tour, we’ve saved the best ‘til last! Everyone is booked in to go to Hobbiton already. If you do a Harry Potter show, you’re all just a bunch of nerds, so.
Tell us about the response, it must have been overwhelming. What’s it been like?
It’s been unbelievable! For something that was created to the entertain the crowds at midnight, to suddenly being able to go around the world, especially as we’re such big Harry Potter fans… it’s just been something else. This comes from a place of love, we just wanted to have fun with it, we had no idea how people would respond to it, just to have a whole audience of Harry Potter fans laughing along with you.
Of course, yeah.
Everyone comes along dressed up in their Wizarding robes and sort-of joins in with the show. We always say that the audience is sorta the ‘third member’ of the cast, and we encourage people to shout out and join in, and it’s very much a Harry Potter love-in.
With you talking about audience participation, is that something you encourage? How do you get the audience to take part, join in?
Absolutely, we believe we’re the only theatre show in the world that allows you to come to the theatre and play a live game of Quidditch! We split the audience in two, Gryffindor and Slytherin, and we see which house is the best! We have Quaffles flying around the theatre, we have Seekers on stage, I’m not gonna tell you how we do it but we have a Golden Snitch flying around as well, it’s all good fun. We started as and ultimately are a family show, so we had to find a way to keep the kids entertained halfway through! But what we didn’t realise that the adults, especially the dads, would suddenly wake up and get VERY interested in the game, very competitive in Quidditch, and we’ve seen dads bowl over kids that aren’t their own! Grown men pushing aside kids to get the Quaffles! It’s amazing to watch, especially when you call them out of it, and they look around and see their wives and know they’re in trouble because of it.
So what are the crazy interactions you’ve had with Harry Potter fans? Have you had any interactions with J.K Rowling herself?
Funny story, that. There was a story that when we first did the show… must have been 13 years ago now, J.K Rowling herself came to see us perform. Except we were out of space, and the box office girl didn’t initially recognise her, so by the time we were about to the perform, the box office girl came up to us crying because she had realised she’d turned away J.K Rowling herself from seeing a Harry Potter show!
Yeah, and for the next few years we were like ‘Nah, couldn’t have been her, eh?” But five years later we were doing a charity event that J.K Rowling happened to be at, and we got introduced to her and she was like “Potted Potter? I came to see your show down in Edinburgh, but you were sold out!” And we groaned. Ever since then, wherever we go, we’ve kept one seat free just on the off-chance J.K turns up and finally wants to see us. So if she comes to New Zealand on holiday and she’s there, she’ll be able to watch us!
Has she taken up the offer yet?
Nah, but we’ve talked to her team, and she’s seen a copy of the script and she really liked it, which is SUCH a compliment! Even though we’ve done this offer for years now, if I ever came out ready to perform and saw [J.K Rowling] in the audience, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d be a mess! I’d be terrified!
Wrapping up for you, where can our Craccum audience keep up with Potted Potter, follow the cast, etc?
[initially confused] I think our website is www.pottedpotter.com, which has everything that the cast & crew are up to, and ways to follow all the cast and crew and what not. It even has our Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram, things I’m not really a part of (laughs). Who would have guessed that Facebook would not be cool anymore? But yeah, it’s all up on there. Good to talk to you.