FRINGE ACT 2015 INTRODUCTION
We are pleased to introduce to you the team behind The Biscuiteater, Jim Loucks and Deb Loucks. This dynamic duo first joined us for our inaugural Fringe in 2011 with their show, Cemetery Golf, and are returning to Honolulu to once again mesmerize our audience with Jim’s new solo work. This time Jim looks even closer to home and reveals stories and characters dear to his heart.
Welcome back to Honolulu. We do appreciate your return. Tell us, what have you both been up to?
Deb: Thanks, we’re thrilled to come back to O’ahu with a new show! We have been traveling with our first show, “Cemetery Golf,” to New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Orlando, and Austin, getting a lot of experience with touring. In Austin, we met our new director Lisa Chess and have been working with her for the last couple of months on our new show “The Biscuiteater.”
Can you tell us how different or similar Cemetery Golf is to The Biscuiteater?
Deb: There are a lot of similar qualities between the two shows, namely the Southern storytelling style, drawing from Jim’s childhood for inspiration, and playing several different characters. “Cemetery Golf” focused on growing up as the son of a hellfire and brimstone Southern Baptist preacher and the effects that religion can have on a family. “The Biscuiteater” still deals with some of those issues, but focuses more on his relationship with his Granddaddy, who was his hero, and who helped him to break out of the restrictions of religion and learn to be unafraid.
Where did the inspiration come from to create this story?
Jim: The inspiration came from my relationship with my Granddaddy, who was a larger-than-life personality. I’m very happy to finally get to play a version of him on stage.
What was the reception like from family members and friends from your childhood who heard about your new project, especially when The Biscuiteater is inspired by very familiar territory?
Jim: It is a delicate balance to portray a person that had such an impact, my Granddaddy was a hero in my family. I tried to show his faults as well as his amazing qualities, but I do remind everybody that it is a piece of fiction. Plus, nobody has seen it yet, so we’ll see!
Of all the characters you portray, Jim, which one reminds you of yourself? And what qualities does it have that is undeniably you?
Jim: This is the first show that I have a Narrator and he is a version of me now, as well as the little Jimmy character, where I am seeing the story through the eyes of myself as a child. But there’s probably a touch of me in all of the characters.
How much is storytelling a part of your family tradition?
Jim: Growing up in South Georgia, the son of a hellfire and brimstone Southern Baptist preacher, I was blessed to witness some of the best performances anyone has laid eyes on, with my father’s mercurial, jumpin’-up-on-the-front-pew-and-wavin’-his-Bible style. On the flipside of this was the old-school yarn spinning of my three uncles. Flipside because they would sometimes “talk ugly”, when there were no women or preachers around. I remember sitting wide-eyed in the middle of the living room and being riveted by their tales of growing up poor, fighting, shooting marbles and getting their tails switched by my Grandma, whom they all claimed had the best right arm in Mitchell County, Georgia. My intention as an artist is to meld these types of performing and storytelling and bring good ol’ Southern tales to the theatre.
Before settling on going solo – what criteria was considered in order to get the story told? For example, was there a consideration to create this show with a large cast or perhaps a small team?
Jim: No, it was always the plan to do it as a solo show, because I like working with a small group of people, mainly my wife and my director. We did decide to add more production value this time around, such as sound design and lighting. We’re always trying to bump up our game.
Doing a solo performance is certainly not an easy task. What survival strategies do you both carry out when creating a solo show?
Jim: I try to stay fit mentally and physically and make sure that I have put in the work to have the show thoroughly prepared for the audience, which for me means a lot of rehearsal. The show is definitely a workout. But the most important thing is to know that doing the show itself is the reward. I find it a lot of fun!
Deb: Since I handle all of the off-stage responsibilities, I try to make sure I’ve taken care of as much as possible before we hit the road, such as planning the travel, preparing marketing materials and reaching out to the people at the Festivals, so that once we arrive, we can enjoy the process.
Performing at Fringe Festivals is so rewarding in many ways, but it can also be a difficult experience. What are your thoughts in taking one’s work to various arts festivals?
Deb: Theater is our family business, and also our opportunity to travel and see parts of the world that we wouldn’t necessarily visit otherwise. Certainly Oahu is one our favorites! But we have also been to places like Albuquerque and Cincinnati and we make an effort to experience these places to the fullest in between shows. It’s always fun to try the different cuisines and we make sure to ask the locals for their recommendations to really get a sense of a place. Building audiences as an out-of-town show is always the biggest challenge, so we like to connect with other performers and see their shows, as well as encourage their audiences to become our audiences! Fringe Festivals are unique in that audiences are willing to take a risk on someone they haven’t heard of and try new things.There’s such a strong sense of community. We received a very warm welcome in Oahu last time, and hopefully people will remember Jim and come and see what he’s got in store for them with his new show!
O’ahu Fringe Festival wishes The Biscuiteater all the very best with their performances at Fringe 2015. Tickets for The Biscuiteater will be available at O’ahu Fringe in January 2015. For more info on this show, please visit the site of Jim Loucks.