Why Noggin the Nog?

Noggin the Nog enthrals the average British family

Noggin the Nog enthrals the average British family

The Sagas of Noggin the Nog were first shown on British television in 1959. It was made by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate. They also made Pogle’s Wood, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss, the Clangers and loads of others: the stuff that many childhoods were made of. The films were made in less frenetic times. The stories were beautifully crafted and the characters carefully drawn … but the films were also quite, quite mad! Vikings who appear to come from Surbiton, who are constantly stopping for tea and toast, who will go on any adventure at the drop of a hat. And what adventures! Travelling to the other ends of the earth to meet a possible bride. Travelling to the Hot Water Valley to do battle with an Ice Dragon that is ruining the farmer’s crops. There was a Goon-ish silliness about the tales. It was these qualities that attracted us to the Sagas and made us want to create a piece of theatre that would do justice to the marvellous nonsense of Firmin and Postgate.

Queen Grunhilde the Lazy One and her maid, Ignora!

Queen Grunhilde the Lazy One and her maid, Ignora!

The stories feel utterly modern though laced with the sensibilities of gentler times. When we came to make the play we referenced the Goons, Monty Python and cartoons that adorned our telly screens … Tom and Jerry, Road Runner and even Scooby Doo and Danger Mouse. The resulting piece of theatre is Pythonesque in its clever silliness, Goon-ish in its character driven narrative, cartoonish in its “feel” and Firmin and Postgate-ish in its attitudes.

“The Nogs are a charmingly mild-mannered bunch of Vikings. They sound a bit like Terry Jones, they look a bit like him too. Except for Noggin. Noggin the Nog, their young leader, is handsome in a Viking sort of way. From my seat in the audience I was almost picked to marry him. But Noggin decided on the Princess of the Nooks instead. They bonded over cocoa and hot buttered toast.
Buttered toast is very important to the Nogs. There’s no threat so desperate, be it storm-lashed seas or marauding dragons, that they can’t stop to make toast round the sine qua non of Viking icoNOGraphy: a glowing camp fire.
The first ever stage production of Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate’s much loved television series retains the homespun, low-tech aesthetic of the original without looking in any way amateurish.
While much of the low-key humour derives from the sort of knowledge of the series which belongs to the older members of the audience, there’s still plenty of fun for the younger ones. It’s a close call as to who enjoys it more, the children or their grandparents.
An expertly acted, beautifully realised stage play with the warm charm of a bedtime story.”

Amanda Kriek’s ★★★★ review for The Independent

I have reprinted this because it sort of bears out what I was getting at.

RWD15_Noggin The Nog_Dragon PNG

The Sagas of Noggin the Nog play is a fairly gentle madcap dash with live music, created on an old and charming harmonium, high-tech projection of Peter Firmin’s original drawings, beautiful puppets both small and, in the case of the dragon, blooming big, some clever theatrical tricks and a cast of Vikings that always appear to get through to the end of the play despite much giddy recklessness and a terribly English absurdity en route.

Nostalgia is often levelled at the play and, of course, the play is based on a 1959 stop motion film, so there is a nostalgic feel to the piece but it is also very much a modern play. It does the play a dis-service to think of it as purely nostalgic. The play is truly cross-generational (I hate that phrase, it sort of puts the play into a pigeon hole that is so big you could get a Giant Bustard in it) … it has been performed to people from babes in arms to much more elderly people (87 years old I seem to remember in one audience). And is enjoyed by all … everyone says that, I know but it really is true of Noggin the Nog. The play is sort of “panto-esque” (not my phrase) but only in the sense that it has a baddy, a few songs, is funny and has a sort of Dame in Queen Grunhilde … but it differs in that it does not have one section for children, dirty smutty innuendos for adults and an inapposite modern pop song for the fairy tale character to “get down” to … the stories and the way we portray them are genuinely accessible and can be understood and often laughed at by all.

So … come and see it.

Follow this link to find out where and when.

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Noggin is on the road again …

Oh no, not again ... I get van sick!

Oh no, not again … I get van sick!

So, the intrepid Nogs once again take to the road. It is just a short tour this time but we do pack quite a few shows in. From Wimbledon to Buxton to Hull to Peterborough and then next year (if we aren’t too old by then) we head to who knows where! So if you are anywhere near any of the places mentioned above (or even if you are not, it is well worth travelling for) come and say hello!

It has been a long time since we Nogs got together to perform at the Brighton Festival: which was, by the way, absolutely fabulous fun and with a real festival feel to it.

We will be starting this new excursion into the vast interior of the United Kingdom in the wonderful Polka Theatre (For dates and times follow the link at the bottom of the page)and then we travel North, then norther and then a tad southerly, all to bring the wonderful stories of Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate (They of The Clangers, Bagpuss and Ivor the Engine fame to name but a few) to a wider audience of families, children, adults who haven’t yet grown up, nostalgia groupies and those interested and excited by a “pythonesque” play about a bunch of Vikings! In other words; more or less everybody. Even if you weren’t raised on the slightly bizarre stories and the wonderfully hypnotic voice of Oliver Postgate I promise you will enjoy the show.

We had huge audiences, a number of 5 and 4 ★ reviews from the National press and some wonderful conversations with whole generations of families last year at the Edinburgh Festival. The Sagas of Noggin the Nog is a genuine family show, so bring the children, bring grandma and grandpa and great grandma and grandpa and great, great grandma and grandpa and … you get the idea.

The play is based on the first two stories that were first shown on the BBC in 1959 and 1960; How Noggin became King of the Nogs and The Ice Dragon. We use live action, live music, puppets, video projection and a great deal of humour to tell these wonderful tales and although Oliver Postgate is not still with us, Peter Firmin, the artist who created the visuals is, and he and Daniel Postgate (Oliver’s son) are great supporters of the show and both laughed “like drains” at the performances at the Theatre Royal Brighton.

So, see you there!

Follow this link to take you to the Nog Log.

 

 

 

Post Edinburgh Debrief … number 1.

We’ve been debriefing …

Debriefing 1

… following our truly successful and incredibly tiring trip to the Edinburgh Festival we, the intrepid band of Nogs, have been debriefing to discover what we did, what we failed to do, whether we achieved what we wanted to achieve and, most importantly, where we go next!

For all those of you who helped us financially on our Kickstarter campaign, all those who came to see the show, those who sent messages of support, those who helped in various other ways, we have decided … we have enough possible/probable and improbable venues who want to book the show, that we’re touring next year! Huzzah! So thank you all!

Dragon in Van

Groliffe, the charming and slightly scary Ice Dragon will once again have to be coaxed into the van, as will the aged (well, three aged and one still young enough to be moist from the womb) performers, who, with aching limbs, loose skin and morals to match will moan and grumble about the price of service station coffee, the price of diesel, the price of … well, just about everything but … into the van they will get.

There is, of course, a huge amount of work to do before then. Putting together a tour is not an easy thing; for a start, everyone seems to want the same dates, and those who don’t, want dates next to another venue that is the other end of the country. We have to try and avoid the alphabetical tour: Monday Aberdeen, Tuesday Brighton, Wednesday Carlisle, Thursday Devizes … you get the picture. And then there are some venues that really, really, really want us but because they have a small seating capacity, they can’t afford us. We also have to make sure that the prime times, which with a family show, seem to be half term and weekends … that we are in the bigger venues where more people can get to see it; apart from anything else it makes financial sense for us.

Lighthouse Stage 1

Places like the Lighthouse Theatre, Poole, for instance has hundreds of seats, and when we were there last year, we filled quite a lot of them; this meant a good income for the theatre and for us too. It is so ridiculously expensive to tour these days. I don’t want to bore you but … five people on the road equals five wages, five sets of per deums, five hotel rooms … and then there’s the aforementioned diesel, the print runs of posters, flyers, programmes, and the insurance, the photographer, the venue booker, the PR, the … the … the … it goes on and on. So, in order to put together a tour, we have to be clever (not normally our strong suit), we have to be able to drive a hard bargain (again, we’re too nice), we have to be able to turn bookings down (really, really not easy when you’ve spent your whole life trying to get the ruddy things), we have to be grown-up and businesslike …

ThorNogson and Noggin

ThorNogson and Noggin

… do they appear to be grown-up businesslike to you?

Well, actually we are … though we do have a tendency to fall back to our default setting which is … “you can’t afford it? Never mind … we’ll see what we can do …” which usually ends up that we take a bit of a financial hit but the show is so important to us, that we want everyone who wants to see it, see it! And money is only money!

Money

For those of you who are artists; this is what money looks like.

So, watch this space over the coming months and we’ll keep you up to date with how the preliminary work (sounds exciting, doesn’t it) is coming along and as soon as we have definite dates and venues all booked in we’ll put that up too!