Hello Sam! Tell us about Spontaneous Potter?
It’s a completely improvised Harry Potter fanfiction based on an audience title suggestion – definitely NOT for kids!
How did you come up with the name of your show that your taking to the fringe?
Originally our flagship show was an improvised Sherlock Holmes show called “Spontaneous Sherlock”, which we still perform throughout the year (although it won’t be at the Fringe this time around). When we decided to expand to a second genre narrative show, Harry Potter seemed like the logical choice, and so Spontaneous Potter came to be!
Tell us all about your show!
The show is an irreverent homage to the world of the books and movies, taking the characters you know and love (and some that you don’t) into wild new scenarios. We take a written audience suggestion from each audience member, following the classic format of “Harry Potter and the __________” – these all get chucked in a Sorting Hat, and we perform the full narrative of whatever title is selected. We also have full musical accompaniment from the wonderful Jenny Laahs on piano.
How often have you read the books?
This varies wildly between the different cast members! Some of us grew up devouring and rereading the books, some had only seen the movies until recently, some have explored the wider universe and even read fan-fiction. We also have regular guest performers who haven’t read any of the books, which adds a further layer of chaos and hilarity (such as the accidental introduction of new characters like “Joe Chang”).
What are your favourite story lines in them?
We love to play with broad aspects of the story which come up time and time again throughout the books, but when you look at the actual plotlines a lot of it is a pretty basic Hero’s Journey structure with an unwilling “chosen one” protagonist. That being said, I love the Triwizard Tournament storyline. Goblet of Fire isn’t the most deep and meaningful of the books, but I bloody love dragons.
Favourite characters from the books to play as and why?
So much of the enjoyment comes not from the characters we play but how we each play them. Playing Dumbledore as a neglectful, bumbling old man, a badass McGonagall or a ridiculous pantomime villain Voldemort is so much more fun than trying to emulate the actors from the films. We all love playing the more off the wall characters like ghosts, paintings and the giant squid. And of course, it’s doubly fun when Polyjuice potion is involved as you get to play a character who is in turn playing another character!
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the fringe?
There are so many great shows on at the Fringe, and so little time between shows to see them! I am personally a big fan of Flo and Joan who do wonderfully witty musical comedy. My favourite show last year was Colin Bramwell’s “Umbrella Man”, a beautiful combination of storytelling, poetry, songs and flat earth conspiracy theory which made me laugh and cry – It’s back this year so I will definitely try to see it again.
Have you done the fringe before? What are the key pieces of advice you have been given or would give to new groups or people performing at the Fringe?
This is my 10th year at the Fringe, and most of us are at or approaching that milestone. Self-care is super important – eating reasonably well, not drinking too much and getting some sleep, and allowing yourself some downtime when not on stage. That being said I am terrible at taking my own advice, so you’ll find me on the Royal Mile at 5am drinking and crying.
What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?
We do so many shows (weekly in Edinburgh, every night of the Fringe plus touring) that it is honestly difficult to pick any out. One that comes to mind was at the Newcastle Stand – the title escapes me, but I played a sentient, talking Hogwarts Express and it was incredibly fun. Often, we find the simplest titles give us the best shows as we have so much freedom to play around with different ideas and aren’t forced down a certain path.
Favourite one liner you have done in a show and why?
I’ll be perfectly honest, most of my memorable one-liners are incredibly inappropriate jokes about ejaculation. It’s become a bit of a theme, and I’m not sure you’d be comfortable publishing any of them.
There was a show where Harry kept stabbing people instead of using his wand. I came out with “Harry Potter – the Boy who Shivved”.
What have been some of the most unique and different comedy shows you have seen this year and why?
I love the Dragprov Revue – it’s a super fun mix of drag and improv, and a masterclass in improvised musical comedy. They are twisting what people think of when they hear “improv” in new directions and it is really great. In Edinburgh, there is a delightfully weird comedy night run by a friend of ours called “Peter Pancakes”. It showcases some of the more surreal, bizarre comedy on the scene right now and is always incredible – not enough comedy nights are willing to take a gamble with weirder performers.
What is the best way to enjoy yourself at the fringe?
See other shows, grab drinks with other performers, and see the sights of Edinburgh! It is a really beautiful city once you get out of the crowds. Climb Arthur’s Seat for the best view of the city.
What would be your top three items every performer must take to the fringe?
Wallet, phone and keys – you can just do object work and mime for everything else until someone takes pity on you and buys you a Greggs.
What’s the secret to successful flyering?
Sell the show confidently and let people come to you – nobody likes being accosted, and people will take your flyer out of politeness then bin it. If people seem interested, try to politely engage them so they will remember you. And do a Harry Potter themed show, nerds seem to love that.
Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?
Not JK Rowling. She’d probably cry at the massacre of her beloved characters. Daniel Radcliffe would probably be up for a bit of banter though.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We are @thespontplayers on Twitter, @spontaneous_players on Instagram, or search The Spontaneous Players on Facebook.
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Nerdy wizard fun!
All the best,
Show quoted text