Saturday 18 August 2012 | By Chris Cooke
Kekoa Kaluhiokalani, Gryphon Venues: The Venue Directors
Gryphon Venues first emerged at the Fringe last year, setting up home in the Point Hotel on the West side of the Grassmarket. We love it when new venues appear at the Fringe, so kept a special eye on this set up, and were very pleased to see it return for 2012. So much so, earlier this Festival we spoke to Artistic Director Kekoa Kaluhiokalani about the Gryphon enterprise.
CC: Tell us how Gryphon Venues came into being in the first place, and about your Fringe experiences pre the venue.
KK: The Gryphon founders are all Fringe veterans, each of us having previously worked in other venues as performers, technicians and management staff. We love the Fringe – the energy, the enthusiasm, the shows. Even better, we liked each other well enough! So we decided to put together our own venue where we could add to the mad swirl of artistic energy.
CC: Was your first year a success, and what have you learned for year two?
KK: Our first year, 2011, succeeded beyond our expectations: four and five-star reviews, one show which sold out its run, and a block of performances that, to put it mildly, went from controversial to extremely controversial – great fun! The main lessons we learned from 2011: we can build the spaces much faster the second time around, you can indeed live on tea alone, and gaffa tape fixes everything.
CC: How do you pick the shows in your programme?
KK: We are always on the lookout for productions that embody the ethos of the Fringe: challenging, eclectic, edgy work; weird, quirky and wild; emerging playwrights, young companies, minorities, LGBT performances, marginal voices.
CC: Is there anything we should look out for in particular in your 2012 programme?
KK: It’s hard to highlight any particular area of our 2012 season: we have solo shows, the children’s shows, the new works, music, exhibits, networking events, films, dance, circus … For a venue as smalls as ours, we are happy to have such a diversity of performances.
CC: What are the biggest challenges of running a Fringe venue?
KK: The biggest challenge we face is logistical: two of the four founders are from the US and during the year a great deal of coordination is conducted trans-Atlantically and at all hours of the day. I sometimes have to answer the phone at 4am, so I put the ring-tone volume at the apocalypse setting.
CC: And what are the best bits?
KK: Best bits? Without question: the performance companies. Coming to Edinburgh can be a nerve-wracking experience for them, and I’m happy that we can help alleviate the stress of the process and play a part in bringing their work to an international audience.