Friday, May 25, 2012

Blainor McGough on King Friday after dark #Portland #ME

Blainor McGough is a puppeteer from Portland Maine and curator of King Friday's Dungeon. KFD had its first run this past November with a killer local lineup, and a sold-out audience. Blainor is Director at Mayo Street Arts, an arts venue and community center housed in an old wooden church in Portland. King Friday's Dungeon slam #2 returns November 3rd.  Portlanders are excited for the show, and to check out other Northeast artists participating in the Northeast circuit in Fall 2012.

King Friday's Dungeon, 2011 at Mayo Street Arts. Photographer Annie Seikonia
Marsian: First of all, I love the name King Friday's Dungeon! Its like Mr. Rogers neighborhood slasher fiction.

Blainor McGough: Oh, totally - slasher, B-grade, underground weirdness was what we were going for. Libby Marcus came up with the title of King Friday's Dungeon during a brainstorming session with me, Julie Goell, and Avner the Eccentric.  
M: Is it true that there is a full scale model of the Neighborhood of Make Believe, as some of your photos suggest?
BM: Indeed. Its sad, really - King Friday is living in squalor - the castle is now a dilapidated vaudeville house and occasional flop-house for traveling puppets and exotic dancers. We recreated it in cardboard for the slam.

M: OMG! How are you finding acts for this?
BM: We pulled from mostly local talent, old-time puppeteer friends and new. Curiously, there's a lot of us up here so it was easy to get a good crew. We'd love to host more acts 'from away' though.

M: What inspired you to start KFD?
BM: Heather Henson came for a Portland visit, explained about the Slam Network and encouraged us to start one here. How could we resist? We've also been hosting Handmade Puppet Dreams.

M: What slams and cabarets have you been to or performed at?
Visited Roxie Mhyrum and the slam at Puppet Showplace last summer - very much fun. I used to do different puppet/performance art pieces at the Casco Bay Cabaret, a cabaret/variety show that took place in Portland for years...but mostly performed with Shoestring Theater and my own stuff in the Hurdy Gurdy Puppet Show. That was a long time ago! I love King Friday's Dungeon because you get to see so many other fabulous shows in one night.

M: How does what you do at the puppet slam tie into the other kinds of performance you do? Do you direct other shows there?
BM: Well, I book and produce performances here at Mayo Street Arts in Portland. Also I curate SLAP - Superhero Lady Armwrestlers of Portland. SLAP has many similarities to a slam because there are so many 'performers' involved - the lady armwrestlers all have an alt-persona with costumes and theme songs...many of the same booking/production/PR considerations and a similarly amped level of creativity and weirdness.

M: What other slams or cities would you include as part of your slam circuit?

BM: Last November was our first slam so we're new, but it rocked and we were sold out. We're looking to get a circuit going this fall with some of the Northeast slams...Boston, Providence, NYC, Philly.

M: Tell us about a fabulous failure (at a slam) and what you've learned from it.
BM: Well my sets used to be so complicated and heavy - i think i learned to pare things down and work the moment. But I love seeing other people's stuff that IS complicated.

M: Who are some other artists on the puppet slam circuit who you are inspired by?  
BM: The Dolly Wagglers are some of my favs - they're funny, great musicians, and swell puppeteers overall. Tim Harbeson is incredibly inspiring and magical. He uses objects, sound, and chance; his shows are very mysterious. He and his wife Buffy Miller hosted puppet performances at their Stillhouse Studio in Portland years ago. Cuckoo Carwash is a rare treat, though he rarely leaves the Tri-State area.

M: What pieces do you have in circulation to perform in puppet slams? 
BM: I used to do Pierre In Ze Aire, who did a tightrope act...Also The Bambolinis - they were Sicillian marionettists who had to work in a tortellini factory to support their dream of becoming puppeteers. These days I'm pretty home-based with a little one at home and another one on ze way. So I like organizing the 'Dungeon here in Portland for now. I teach the Children's Puppet Workshop here at Mayo Street afterschool program for at-risk youths.

M: Where can people contact you to perform?
BM: Email me or send a message on our Facebook Page.

1 comment:

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