I was in contact this week with Andrew Fafoutakis about his one-person show Prince and the Pauper which will be appearing at the Gremlin Theatre during the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Fafoutakis is an equity actor who began the development of this show when he prepared his MFA performance for his graduate studies at the Louisiana State University.
According to Fafoutakis, the show is an intensely personal experience where he uses his love of Prince’s music to share his trials and tribulations of growing up as a gay teen with a biracial heritage of both Greek and Mexican American. Fafoutakis first came to Minnesota in 2001 to attend the University of Minnesota as an undergraduate and he has appeared in two prior Minnesota Fringe Festival shows. He is currently working in theatre and living in New York City.
Fafoutakis noted that, when he did his previous fringe shows, he loved the sense of community that Minnesota Fringe Festival brings together in artists and audiences. He thought the theater festival in Prince’s home state would be the best place to premiere his show about what Prince’s music meant to him growing up. The piece was originally going to be this heavy dramatic piece, but he decided he would prefer to make people laugh. When he did his MFA show, it went well with some nice feedback. As he noted: “Who knew people all the way down in Baton Rouge loved Prince?” He hopes the show will “speak to others in terms of race, sexuality, and all things music.” He wants the audience to really get to know both Prince and him (the pauper) and that it will open a dialogue to get people talking.
Among other factors setting apart his show, Fafoutakis notes that his show will be the only Fringe show where audience members can sing along to their favorite Prince tunes. But he noted there will be some audience participation and to expect some surprises.
Writing and rehearsing the show while living in New York has been a challenge since rehearsal space is very expensive. He had to get creative, rehearsing parts of it in the shower, on the subway, during dull movements during work and even in Central Park. He is anxious to get to the Twin Cities so that he can actually see the performance space. It has been a very interesting process for Fafoutakis to see how his script has changed and developed over the past several months while he figures out what will and will not work in a show. It is his first time as producer so he has also been learning out how to advertise and market a show.
When I asked Fafoutakis if the show was suitable for teens, he responded that it would be good for those 16 and older since he does use “some salty language.” Teens many not always get the references in his show. But he hopes mixed race families will come and find something meaningful in his bi-racial life experience. He also hopes that teens, especially gay teens, will connect with his story. He wants this show to recognize his experience as a gay teen. The website for this show, with the dates and times, can be found here.
The Gremlin is the scene of several interesting shows for teen audiences this year. I think of Prince as being more part of my parents’ generation but, based on Fafoutakis’ description, this is one show I will definitely want to check out when I am over there.