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She began serving on the board of trustees for the Heritage Foundation in , and became the president in This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. Kay Coles James: I came from what would be called today a dysfunctional family.


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My father did odd jobs. He was a guard. He worked unloading ships when he was younger. He did maintenance work. My mother was a dental tech for part of her life, working for her brother-in-law, and the rest of the time she was a domestic, cleaning houses and caring for people. So they were hard-working folks, but not with steady jobs or glamorous careers by any stretch of the imagination. Fadulu: Did they have a specific profession that they wanted you to go into? Coles James: I was the only girl out of five boys, and I think they were more interested in making sure that I had a good, solid education because with that, there would be lots of opportunities to do any number of things.

My father left home when I was around 4 years old, and I ended up being raised by my aunt and uncle. They were professional people. He was a businessman, and she was a schoolteacher, but she suffered under the debilitating disease of alcoholism. And as a result of that, even as a young child, I had to learn to be self-sufficient and independent around the house.

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So I learned domestic skills rather early: I could cook and clean and care for not only myself, but at a very early age took care of my aunt as well. Fadulu: Did you have any jobs outside of the home before going to college? Coles James: Not very much before college.

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I can tell you that being raised by an African American schoolteacher, even though she was a working alcoholic, she had all the values of a middle-class schoolteacher, and education was key. And my uncle, who was sort of the rock of the family, was very adamant about the fact that I was to get a good-quality education, and he felt that once that was done, then his task was done in that he would have equipped me for life. Read: The wisdom of going back to school in retirement. I grew up hearing about the United Negro College Fund.

I expected to pay my dues. They brought the comedy, and Jeff brought the tea. Between wizarding and writing, Daniel also appears as Puppet Steve in the anarchic late night comedy chat show Mr. Thing , which has enjoyed sell out runs at both the Edinburgh and Brighton comedy festivals. Daniel has had regular appearances on BBC, ITV and Channel 4 — writing, performing and directing his unique brand of condensed comedy, and was fortunate enough to spend six months in LA training and working with The Upright Citizens Brigade.

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Check out hundreds of guestbook archive posts via this link to our old site. Dan and Jeff are asked to create a five-minute street show recapping the plot of the first five Potter books, for performance to queues of fans waiting for the midnight release of the sixth book.

Potted Potter is born as the street show expands into an hour-long performance in which the first six books are parodied. Under the guidance of director Richard Hurst, the show tours the U. The tour finishes with a Christmas run at Trafalgar Studios in London. More U.

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Dan and Jeff also launch their second show, Potted Pirates. Dan and Jeff wrestle the show back from them for a third and final Christmas run at Trafalgar Studios. Potted Potter returns for another tour, starting at Bury St. The show tours across Australasia and South Africa. Things begin a little ominously for this fearless duo of reduced Rowling, writer-performers Jeff and Dan, who promise to deliver all seven Harry Potter books on stage, in just over an hour.

Dan, however, is entirely ignorant of everything Hogwarts-related. But when Jeff picks up the first Potter instalment to boil down to five-minute size, dramatic matters take several turns for the better. Jeff is an overly enthused, bespectacled Harry, while Dan, a limitless supply of bad hats and dodgy plastic puppets to hand, plays everyone else, with increasingly anarchic, persuasive charm. That and the raucous game of quidditch, involving a blow-up globe, two large hoops, and a larger-than-life snitch that flies with the aid of flapping Marigold gloves.

There was an alarming moment when my year-old son and I entered the foyer of the Trafalgar Studios only to find the place bursting at the seams with tiny tots with ages ranging from five to eight. In fact it, looked as though we were going to be in for the theatrical equivalent of Jackanory.

Edward assumed that martyred look of the self-conscious teenager with an unreliable parent. Forty years earlier, I would have adopted an identical expression myself. But, in fact, the show turns out to be a bit of a blast. The two performers Dan and Jeff are a classic double act, with Jefferson Turner playing the Ernie Wise role of the perennially hopeful yet permanently aggrieved straight man, while Daniel Clarkson adopts the Eric Morecambe persona of the dotty surrealist who knows exactly how to wind his partner up.

The pair whip up an atmosphere of crazy delirium with glove-puppet monsters, enjoyably awful jokes, quick changes, silly accents and frenzied slapstick. And the audience participation proves riotous, especially in a frenzied game of Quidditch, in which poor Jeff finds himself absurdly dressed up as the golden snitch and the adults in the audience behave even worse than the kids when it comes to gaining possession of the Quaffle.

As someone who gave up on the Potter books along with my wife and son when faced with the dauntingly long fourth instalment, deciding that life was too short for quite so much turgid prose and repetitive plotting, the irreverence of this show comes as a blessed relief. For those looking for an alternative to pantomime which will tickle the funny bone of every age group, this bonkers and blessedly brief show is just the ticket. Dan, in particular, often seems a trifle confused between his Potter and his Lord of the Rings and Narnia adventures. Then there is his misunderstanding about the difference between Hogwarts and warthogs.

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And when he plays the Defence of the Dark Arts teacher, Lupin, the werewolf has inexplicably transmuted into an elephant. These mixups weigh heavily on self-appointed Harry Potter expert Jeff, all the more because Dan has used all the money set aside to employ 20 actors on the dragon in Book Four. The dragon, needless to say, turns out to be a severe disappointment. At moments, there is a touch of the National Theatre of Brent in the prickly relationship between Dan and Jeff.

This is also the only show in town in which the audience get to participate in a game of quidditch, even though Dan appears to think that a vacuum cleaner can be substituted for a Nimbus and Jeff has a trying time as the Golden Snitch. A winner in every way. Lyn Gardner, The Guardian. Try Independent Minds free for 1 month. Independent Minds Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Minds. It allows our most engaged readers to debate the big issues, share their own experiences, discuss real-world solutions, and more.

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