It is Bob-A-Nog Week!

Bob-A-Nog

Bob a Job Week!

Ah, do you remember this. Scouts, Guides, Cubs and the like knocking on your door and asking if you had any jobs that you would be willing to let a ham-fisted youth do for a bob (1 Shilling or 5p in todays money). I was a fairly unenthusiastic bobber-jobber but I cleaned cars, washed windows, dug gardens, mowed lawns and all for a bob for charity! It was enjoyable in a sort of “do I have to this” kind of way.

Well, The Sagas of Noggin the Nog, is off to the Edinburgh Festival. We are trying to raise money to enable Noggin to perform in front of new audiences, venue bookers, producers, theatre professionals and so on, at the biggest festival for performance in the world, as a means to achieve more with this “entrancing” family show next year; we want Noggin to be seen by many more people. So … and this is where our campaign differs from Bob a Job week … we are having a Bob-A-Nog week … where we ask you for money and in return (instead of us coming round and cleaning your lawn or mowing your car) we give you a warm feeling inside … and (oh, yes, there’s more) there are certain rewards that can be claimed … all you have to do is click on the link below which will take you through the ether to a new place. This new place is called Kickstarter … its a bit like Narnia only much more commercial and yet strangely heart warming … in this land of Kickstarter there is a campaign … and in this campaign there is a place where you can pledge anything from £1 to … the sky is always the limit in Kickstarter Land … for The Sagas of Noggin the Nog and … you can see what wonderful rewards there are.

Bob-A-Nog Week

If you have clicked on the link, then you probably won’t be reading this paragraph because you will be in Kickstarter Land. If you haven’t clicked and you’re thinking should I do it, then the answer is yes … if you are STILL reading then you still haven’t clicked on it … you’re with me for the long haul. And it is a long haul!

Saga Original

Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin created Noggin the Nog back in 1959. I remember sitting and watching it on British television when I was nought but a mewling and milk puking sprog … it was in Black and White and was somewhat eerie … the music, the visuals and Oliver Postgate’s clipped accent making it feel somewhat other-worldly. Looking at it now it still has that strange, eccentric Englishness about it that intrigues and welcomes you in … it is gentle, humorous and quite different to todays wham-bam TV; the story-telling is compelling and simple but you want to know what is going to happen next. It was quite brave children’s television … the King, who you imagine might be one of the main characters, dies in the first few moments of the first episode and we are then introduced to Noggin, the King’s son … it is his tale we are about to follow. In order to be king, Noggin has to marry within six weeks, or the crown will go to his wicked Uncle, Nogbad the Bad. The stage (screen) is set for the tale to unfold. I won’t tell you what happens as that will spoil the story, though … in the second series, King Noggin, oops! … travels to the Hot Water Valley to help the little people who live there with a Dragon problem.

It is the first two series of Noggin the Nog that our play centres on. There are silly Vikings, live music, puppets and live projection taken from the original films. It is a family show. Children love it and adults love it, together they love it even more … last week we performed at Theatre Royal Margate. In the afternoon we had a large audience of school children who shouted quite loudly at Nogbad the Bad, in the evening we had more of a family audience … who booed and shouted very nicely at Nogbad the Bad and cheered when Noggin was successful. Both shows seemed to be enjoyed by all … perfect.

Nogs Chatting Margate

This is us chatting to the audience after the show at Theatre Royal Margate!

Anyway … if you are still here … why? Why aren’t you clicking on the link!

Thanks for getting this far.

I will attempt to update the blog regularly over the next five or six weeks … almost like an Edinburgh Festival Diary. We’ll see how I get on!

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Kickstart-ering Our Way to Edinburgh!

You can help Noggin the Nog by clicking here!

 If you click on the link above it will take you to our Kickstarter Campaign page.

It’s always good to get the “ask” in early, I say. We have calculated that it is going to cost in excess of £16,000 to take Noggin up to the Edinburgh Festival. We have raised £12,000. We have a shortfall of £4,000. If you can help; anything from £1 to … well … £4,000 would be incredible. It will enable us to take Noggin to Edinburgh and beyond.

The Edinburgh Festival is the biggest shop-window in the world for performance. The Sagas of Noggin the Nog has to be there: we have to show our work to Promoters, the Press and New Audiences in order to spread the word!

The Ice Dragon Cometh

The Ice Dragon Cometh

Silly Vikings, Live Music, Puppets and Video Projections taken from the original 1959 film, The Sagas of Noggin the Nog is a feast for the eyes, ears … and occasionally the nose (sorry about that).

“Clever, witty and entrancing … unquestionably a hit”.

As we toured the show last year we were pleasantly surprised by the audience reaction. We knew the show was good but we were not expecting the sheer volume of “brilliants”, “amazings” and “wonderfuls” that we received from the audience and indeed the press.

“Utterly brilliant show – couldn’t praise it highly enough, so thank you very, very much!”

“That was brilliant. I wish all my friends could see it.”

We know that this “delightful, gentle and inventive show” has to be seen by more people. It is a play that crosses the generation boundary. We performed to 4 and 94 years olds. Children who had never heard of Noggin the Nog were spellbound and from e mails that we have received from many parents, their offspring are creating their own Noggin adventures at home and in school. We have also received lots of enquiries about the Noggin books and DVDs. If you look up and to the right you’ll see a link to The Dragon’s Friendly Society … click on that and you’ll find all kinds of goodies you can buy; including books and DVDs.

170px-Wfm_lewis_chessmen Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate created The Sagas of Noggin the Nog back in the late fifties. Peter, the        artist, saw the Lewis Chess Pieces at the British Museum and they became the inspiration for the stories.

The stories were told at a slower and less frenetic pace than most TV is now. Initially this worried us a little: what if the modern audience gets bored at the gentler style of storytelling?

“What a spellbinding and magical show we enjoyed at Ilfracombe today! A truly lovely experience!”

“Today we went to see Noggin the Nog at Lighthouse in Poole. It was absolutely brilliant and very funny… if the tour is coming to a theatre near you then you should see it!”

“Just as another chorus of “when will it start” is about to begin – BOOM! Two little spines stiffen and heads whiz around to face front, craning to see. A drummer steps from behind the deceptively simple, but effective and versatile, set. My two little boys are transfixed and remain so for the duration of the performance.”

We needn’t have worried. It seems that the style and the pace of the production is just right even for modern audiences who are used to seeing TV and Films that hurtle and rush and cut from one scene to another with increasing rapidity.

“In the Lands of the North where the black rocks stand guards against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the Men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires; and they tell a tale …”

So, if you are in Edinburgh for this years festival, do come and see us and say hello and if not … watch out for a new tour coming to a venue near you, next year.

Edinburgh Here We Come!

Queen G and Ignora

The Theatre Royal Margate Performances!

On Friday 11th July we performed our new Edinburgh version of Noggin at the Theatre Royal Margate. In fact, we performed it twice: once for three hundred children in the afternoon and once to the general public in the evening! I am pleased and excited to tell you … it works and people love it! Phew!

The aim of the exercise was to cut the length of the show to fit in with the Edinburgh Festival schedule and we have achieved that with brass knobs on. Here are a few comments from the audience that appeared in Tweets, Facebook and good old talking:

“Brilliant” …

“Thanks so much for the show last week. It’s brilliant – hope you know that. Can’t wait to see those starred reviews rolling in.”

“Beautiful, charming, witty and exciting; thank you.”

Nogs Chatting Margate

At the end of the performances we sat and chatted to the audience; to ask if they enjoyed it, could we improve it, what bits didn’t they like and what bits they did … fortunately there were no “it was awful” quotes … in fact all that spoke seemed to have a good time and they wished us luck for its future!

So, what is the future for The Sagas of Noggin the Nog? Well, first of all we have to get the play to Edinburgh; the Edinburgh Festival is the biggest shop window for performance in the world. And then we have to make sure that bookers, venue directors, producers and the like see the show. And then, next year, we will tour the play to venues in the UK and hopefully, abroad!

In order to do all of that we have saved up our pennies for a long time but … and it is a big but … we are still quite a few pennies short of the carefully calculated budget. This is where you come in. If we ask you really nicely would you click on the “Support Us” link in the Blogroll, up a bit and to the right. This link will take you to our Kickstarter page where you can pledge any amount small or larger to enable us to take the play further. We know that money is really tight but if you have a bit of spare change we would be most appreciative.

And see you next year at a venue near you!

Noggin, Edinburgh and a Soaking Barrel …

We are well into the second week of rehearsal now and fun has been had by all (and a lot of hard work, obviously). We’re almost ready! Honest! Just a few bits and pieces left to do, that’s all. We’ve cut almost twenty-five minutes from the show and brought the second half of the play more in line with the first half and it feels really great. We’re very excited about it. The proof, of course, is in the “performing it in front of nearly three hundred children on Friday”.

ThorNogson and Noggin

ThorNogson and Noggin

Just a few of the things we’ve done …

Apart from rewriting sections of the play, re-assigning some of the lines (which makes them quite tricky to remember, I can tell you), changing the emphasis of some of the sections and generally rehearsing the whole lot, there were quite a lot of other jobs to be done. Some more surprising than others.

For instance: poor old King Knut had a leg problem; in fact, two leg problems … they dropped off. A similar plight afflicted the Brave and Mighty ThorNogson. They have now been re-legged, phew!

Tony has spent many “happy” hours re-editing and re-aligning all of the video projections … gosh, he enjoyed that!

Max spent a good hour or so polishing his helmet … well, all of the helmets, actually, with wet and dry … and a shield.

Nick clickety-clacked away on the laptop putting all the re-writes into a new document so that we could all sing off the same hymn sheet.

I’ve repaired Ronf’s sword and both of his arms … much glue, gaffer tape and a few choice words. And this evening Tony and I enjoyed remaking and repainting a major part of the set.

And, possibly most surprising …

… two men dangle a barrel in the sea. Barrels dry out unless they have fluid inside them and this one has neither a top nor a bottom … it is very dry. It fell apart. We came up with this idea! Why not soak it in the sea! It worked, though it is very sandy and we did amuse a a couple of fishermen. All in a days work!

 

 

The Sagas of Noggin the Nog Heads to Edinburgh … Part 1

We’re on our way to Edinburgh … by way of Theatre Royal Margate! 

In the lands of the North, where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the Men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale … and the tale they tell is of Noggin the Nog, strong and fair and brave as the men of the Northlands are. So begins the tales of Noggin the Nog.

Our tale is about a group of performers, musicians, directors, puppet makers, designers and a team of dedicated people who all want The Sagas of Noggin the Nog to go beyond the one successful tour of 2013. To this end we are starting again.

Monday 30th June 2014 …

After three or four days of putting together a project for Kickstarter (of which more later) and checking costumes, props, set and sending e mails by the score, Monday arrives! We have almost two weeks to re-write and re-rehearse the play. Why? Well, we are taking The Sagas of Noggin the Nog to Edinburgh and we have to shorten the show to fit in with the festival schedule; currently the play lasts seventy-five minutes and we have to cut it so that it fits into an hour slot. We also have to lose some of our equipment because there is nowhere to store it at the venue. We also want to rework the second half of the play which has a slightly different feel to the first half and we would like to make it more consistent. So, Monday … thanks to an association with the Theatre Royal Margate, we have a rehearsal space at The Winter Gardens … up lots of stairs, I might add … still it keeps us fit. And then on Friday 11th July 2014 we are previewing our new slimline version of the show at the Theatre Royal Margate (there is a link at the end of this post).

 

Caroline titivates the Hot Water Valley Ambassador, Ronf

Caroline titivates the Hot Water Valley Ambassador, Ronf

Why?

During the tour of “Noggin” last year we made an important discovery … this play is genuinely a piece of family theatre. Yes, it works for children, yes, it works for adults but it works particularly well for family audiences. Why is that important? I have noticed over many years of touring theatre that there are fewer and fewer family shows being produced. There are lots of “kids” or worse “kidz” shows and many shows for adults but few that attempt to entertain, intrigue and engage the whole family. In Britain we have the Pantomime but the majority of those have long since stopped trying to engage all of the audience. It is rare that as a family we sit in a large room filled with other families and share an event, an experience, and it is this shared experience that makes it special. We get home and talk about what we experienced collectively; something that happens less frequently in this “solo world”. We see parents sitting with their mobile phones or tablets whilst their children sit on their mobile phones or tablets and no matter how brilliant and engaging they are, they are not sharing an event. The Sagas of Noggin the Nog is an event, an experience to be shared. Last year at the Lighthouse, Poole whilst talking to the audience afterwards, we met four generations of one family who had watched the show together: there was something quite magical about that … four generations talking about a shared experience.

So?

So, we want to take the play to more venues, to be seen by more people. For this, we are taking the show to Edinburgh. The festival is the biggest showcase for performance in the world. If we are going to take The Sagas of Noggin the Nog to a wider audience, move it onto another level, we have to be there. There will be thousands of theatre professionals, venue bookers, producers and so on at the festival; we have to let them see our show, meet them, talk to them; we have to create an interest in the play in order for it to go further.

Sunday 6th July

As I sit here on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon I am aware of all of the thousands of things we have to achieve in the next few weeks. Most imminently is the next week of rehearsal and the preview at Theatre Royal Margate; we are doing two performances, one in the afternoon for schools (which is free) and one in the evening for the general public. Follow the link for more information.

We then have to prepare everything for the Edinburgh Festival. Not least of which is raising a little more money to make it viable. We have set up a Kickstarter project to this end … if you can help us by backing the show we would be most appreciative. Again, follow the link.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1884588791/the-sagas-of-noggin-the-nog-goes-to-edinburgh-and

http://www.assemblyfestival.com/event.php?id=153 

http://theatreroyalmargate.com/event/the-sagas-of-noggin-the-nog-edinburgh-preview/