Basil Considine - Game of Thrones: The Musical
Fringe 5 Questions by Carlynn Wolfe
Who is your “typical”audience?
Our typical audience consists of people who are looking fora good time, read our synopsis, and think it would be hilarious. There's a time and a place for serious theatre work that uplifts and edifies (and, sometimes,makes you cry). We deal with a lot of serious issues in our shows, but we do this through the medium of comedy – the fact that there's deep stuff is almost incidental to our audiences, who come first and foremost looking to be entertained while watching something new.
What do you like best about Fringe performances?
The best thing about Fringe performances is the audience –people who are looking for something new, something different, something that probably wouldn't play in a big theatre for a six-week run. So many large theatres around the United States program all or mostly classics for business reasons – you have a large space, and you need to know that you will sell lotsof tickets so that you can pay staff. The growth of Fringe festivals around the United States shows that there's a lot of pent-up demand for shows that haven't been around for 20+ years – and for the sort of "let me try something new"spirit that a lot of people get at a dinner buffet.
The second best thing about Fringe performances is that fast load-in and load-out schedules (15 minutes in/10 minutes out) require you to be very efficient about what you choose to bring and use. As the saying goes,necessity is the mother of invention; we've come up with more than a few running gags and throwaway visual jokes that came from this!
Where do you rehearse?
Really Spicy Opera is based in the Twin Cities, where we did the preliminary rehearsals at our affectionately named Spice House, which has not one but two kitchens to feed our cast during long rehearsals! When we were staging in earnest, we were graciously given access to spaces at Bethel University in St. Paul and Augsburg College in Minneapolis.
I'd love to say that we're going to do all our outdoor rehearsals in Hawaii on the beach, but when you take a bunch of pale mainlanders and stick them in the Hawaiian sun in January, you're liable to end up with a bunch of red lobsters. Our in-town rehearsals on Oahu and Maui will be at some local churches that I know.
When do you know the show is ready?
When we're developing a comedy like Game of Thrones:The Musical, the answer is "when changing things will make it less funny." You never want a movement or action to become so contrived that you're fishing for a laugh – you want things to be innately funny so that the audience can't help but laugh, while still caring about your main story and your characters. One of the more unexpected things about this show is that it actually has a lot of very serious monologues in it about things like women's rights, appropriation of native lands, and stereotyping. These scenes resonated with the cast (and our audiences) in such a way that I rewrote the show with those scenes as the central narrative.
Every comedy springs from some moment or kernel of truth;when we found those truths in criticisms of our own world, we knew that the show was ready for the public – the rest was just refinement and a lot of puppet building.
Why the Hawaii Fringe Circuit?
There's the organizational reason and the personal reason.First, Really Spicy Opera celebrated its 10th Anniversary Season in 2016 and we wanted to do something new – to mix things up by taking a few shows on the road. In the coming year, we'll also tour around the Midwest and take excursions to Montreal, Orland, and Iceland, but it feels especially good to start in Hawaii. Game of Thrones: The Musical did amazingly well in Minnesota – our recordings were often unusable because people were laughing so loud – so we knew we wanted to do it again!
On a personal note, as the artistic director, Hawaii is where ohana is for me. My grandparents live in Honolulu, my mother went to St. Andrew's Priory, and I spent many a summer on Oahu while I was growing up and in graduate school. I've wanted for a long time for my family and friends on the islands to see some of the work that this hapa boy has been doing on the mainland! (Hint: The terrible Minnesota winter means we have lots of time to rehearse indoors.)
Bonus – How does it feel to be selected as “Editor’s Choice” and“Critic’s Pick” at the 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival by the Twin Cities Arts Reader?
Minneapolis is a pretty heavy arts town. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have an amazing theatre scene, with more than 300 theatre companies in the metro area, so it was very flattering to receive the awards and see what good company we were in. Critical success isn't always the same thing as box office success – but it is such a great validation when you sell lots of tickets, get great reviews, and your friends and colleagues love the show. Since we got into the festival, Game of Thrones: The Musical was also nominated for two Broadway World-Minneapolis awards (for Best Actress in a Musical and Best Director of a Musical), so we've been feeling the love even when it was (without exaggerating) 100 degrees colder in Minneapolis than Honolulu last week.
See Basil and Game of Thrones: The Musical on Jan 12 - 15.