There is more than a little magic in the air as we prepare to apparate into Caitlin Yolland and Rob Lloyd’s new show, A Brief History of Magic. The comedy duo, known as Wizard Actors, will be presenting the world premiere of their Harry Potter-themed comedy show later this month at The Butterfly Club. It’s a magical road trip through wizarding history and, says Lloyd, a completely immersive one. The duo want the audience to not only get the references and nod at the subtle in-jokes, but more importantly, they want them to be drawn into the world of the show that is being created.
“We want them to feel like they are actually a part of the show and that the magic of JK Rowling’s Wizarding World extends beyond the walls of the Butterfly Club and into their everyday life,” says Lloyd. “That means they can take the show with them.”
The pair have previously dazzled Melbourne audiences with their work with impro/puppet group The Mighty Little Puppet Show and Completely Improvised Potter. However, this is the first time Lloyd and Yolland have written and performed as a duo.
Lloyd and Yolland first met through the improvisation scene and had wanted to work as collaborators on a project for years. Lloyd explains:” We worked together in workshops and even performing as a part of the ensemble with companies like ‘The Impro Box’. It was in about 2015 when I floated the idea of a show based on an old, classic sci-fi film (I won’t reveal the name here because we still would like to do it one day). We ran with that concept for the next year or so, shaping concepts and possibilities while we were focused on The Mighty Little Puppet Show. However when I became clear that this show was going to happen I shelved the sci-fi show and suggested a Harry potter themed show instead. Caitlin leapt at the idea and everything snowballed from there.”
Lloyd and Yolland share a genuine love for Harry Potter which Lloyd describes as an obsession. “Part of the reason I suggested we ditch the sci-fi concept (for now) was because I released we both spend a great deal of our time together talking about JK Rowling’s Wizarding World,” he says. “I mean we talk about everything the positives, the negatives, the high and lows, underrated characters, overrated moments and of course the books versus the films.”
Lloyd describes the writing process for A Brief History of Magic as having had three clear stages: Brainstorming, Structuring and Refining.
“Firstly we just got all our ideas out in the open. We discussed and planned and expanded on these initial ideas. This then generated other ideas and concepts, which ultimately ended up in a massive pile of stuff that we both found funny and interesting. We then took all of this and started arranging it and shaping it into a structure. This became the framework of our show. Finally we’ve been meticulously working through each scene from start to finish. On the way we’ve be scripting dialogue, finding more jokes and funny moments and even including some fun historical truths.”
Lloyd has enjoyed this very ordered process, which, he says, has allowed a lot more room to play when he and Yolland were actually up on their feet blocking the show.
“In relation to this show in particular, the fact that Caitlin and I have such a similar sense of humour has really helped move the process along and get right to the heart of what we wanted to achieve with this show,” says Lloyd.
In fact, Lloyd is most proud of the little bits of historical facts they have crafted into the show. “We are covering a great deal of history specifically from the JK Rowling Wizarding World so we felt it was important to drop some actual facts in there…kind of like an added bonus or special prize,” he says. “Yes…Caitlin and I are that nerdy that we see historical facts as bonuses.”
For those who have seen Completely Improvised Potter, fear not, this show offers layers that CIP did not – still fun, still engaging, still magical…just structured in a different way. Lloyd explains: “As is with the nature of improvisation, Improvised Potter is a much looser almost anarchic show. Seeing the characters you know and love interpreted in tongue-in-cheek sort of way. With Wizard Actors it is a scripted show that we have painstaking structured to be high-energy, fast-paced, fun and of course funny. Additionally, our show makes an effort to explore the wider magical world and history therein, rather than specifically Harry and his friends.”
After many Fringe, Adelaide, Edinburgh and MICF shows, as well as being on tour with his Doctor Who alter ego, Lloyd has enjoyed a lengthy relationship with comedy. Lloyd describes this interaction with an audience as a powerful connection between humans.
“A laugh is the most direct way of knowing someone, it’s the best way to make a first impression and start a bond between people,” he says. “For some people comedy is about chasing that laugh almost as if it’s seeking approval or acceptance. For me, comedy has always been about making connections.”
A Brief History of Magic is about everything that you ever wanted to know about…well…the history of magic. It’s a truly immersive experience that will leave you filled with as much joy as the knowledge that you have narrowly escaped eating a vomit flavoured Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean. Alas! Ear Wax!
A Brief History of Magic
May 22 – 26