Coconut Raft Interview

March 24, 2010

A musical based on another musical comprised of unoriginal, original music Coconut Raft, conceived just seven short weeks ago, opened at the Project Arts Centre last night, continuing the Temple Bar venues boundary pushing year which has seen them, in three short months, restage the Orestia as an electro laden fable about our development obsessed times (Off Plan); frog march us through a much needed lesson “as gaeilge” with the bi-lingual Broken Heart/ Croi Briste; and attempt to push the boundaries of “reality theatre” with Victor  & Gord, using untrained performers to tell there real life stories.

A series of fictions within fiction, Coconut Raft is the story of three guys breaking out of prison in the 1930s and the awful, awful stuff that happens to them along the way. That action then cuts to three other guys in boaters, who are part of a cheesy band from the 1950s headed by Gustavo DeVelera who has written a musical based on some version of the story of their prison break, which he has turned into a musical called Coconut Raft.

How did it all come about? “I basically owed Bobby (McGlynn) and Sean (Carpio) a lot of money,” says Bryan Quinn, a Lecoq trained actor possibly best known here for his work with Maeve Higgins and David O Doherty. “And they had, not together but as individuals, threatened my family. So I rang Willie White at the Project Arts Centre and said ‘Willie we have this incredible, incredible new show with amazing music and a darkly comic story. When can we put it on?’ He said the 23rd of March and that was that.”

That was seven weeks ago and Bryan and his fellow players have been working day and night at it ever since. Producing, devising and composing a show to star in, Quinn was the only one of them with prior acting experience.

“When we got the idea of the play together we kind of thought that this is to awesome not to get involved” says McGlynn. “ I’m from a showbiz family (his mother is a big name in musical theatre in Limerick) so it’s been dormant in the blood for a while. “

McGlynn was a stagehand on several major productions at the Abbey while Sean Carpio is a spirited Jazz Percussionist described by the Irish Times as perhaps “the finest drummer ever produced here” but neither has ever acted prior to this show.

How was it for Quinn, who not only had to get the piece on its feet in such a short space of time but also had to break two novices in to the ways of the stage? “It was never me going this is how you do this and this is how you do that. I gave them some pointers about one or two physical things, but they have been on stages before and they knew how to channel their experience into acting, as it were. “

Irish musicals are a rarely spotted beast that pushed on the public have usually flopped. What made the lads want to take a pop at the genre? “We have probably been aware on a sub atomic level of that” says Quinn. “So we have built this show as a play with music rather than a musical. But we think that there is a place for a good, original, Irish musical and we want to do more of it in the future.”

Action takes precedence over the word. Irish writers have always been great at mining the words, and the country has produced some of the most famous English language writers in the world, whom a lot of people have said spoke in Irish but just used English words. “But in our show its lads breaking out of prison so its quite” says Quinn. “We think that non English speakers can come to our show and get a kick out of it. We did Clowning at one stage at Le Coq and there were around 35 nationalities in the school and you had to stand up to do something funny. And if you did something that made everyone laugh you kind of realized that that is something that would work all over the world.”

So how has it differed from other shows he has worked on? “We have tried to give it as much soul as we could. That’s our shtick. Were three guys coming from diverse backgrounds who have come together, good buddies, to work on a thing. Going back and working with real theatre companies and actors where we have all had similar training just isn’t as much of an appeal or as much of a challenge.”

You can download the hit single Coconut Raft, by Coconut Raft, from the latest Coconut Raft show for Coconut Raft Productions on Facebook and Garage Band and its a free download.  “So you can download it and take it to the bath or to the gym or break out of prison on a coconut raft while listening to it” says Quinn with a laugh.

Coconut Raft runs at the Cube at the Project Arts Centre from the 23 MAR – 3 APRIL 2010, 8.15PM. Tickets €15/12.

Download Coconut Raft here


2 Responses to “Coconut Raft Interview”

  1. […] out my interview with the lads here Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Coconut Raft Interview Posted in Theatre Reviews […]

  2. […] Check out my interview with the lads here […]

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