This week Clive Holland of Mischievous Theatre recalls the chilly day in February 2013 warmed by the cross-generational audience at Lighthouse and their reaction to the company’s touring production of The Sagas of Noggin the Nog.
“My memories are of a cold day, we unloaded our van, got the floorcloth down and the set up. The technical people then played with lights and we set up our two projectors. The performance was huge fun, the audience really got behind us and into the story and the style of the production. At the end of the show we had the usual line of families wanting photos, autographs and to talk to Noggin and Nogbad the Bad.
At the very end of the line was a group of eight people, all clutching a programme and wanting to talk to the Nogs. We discovered that they were four generations of the same family; great grandma and grandpa, grandma and grandpa, mum and dad and two children. They told us that the great grandparents had watched it and loved it with their children on the TV, presumably in 1960, those children grew up and bought the books and the VHS for their children, who then bought the new-fangled DVDs for their children. When they saw that there was a stage version and that it was at Lighthouse, they felt that they had to come.
I know that they enjoyed the show and that they enjoyed being together as a very extended family. For us, this was what it was all about, bringing people together and having fun: an experience that will be remembered for years to come.
We did five national tours – Lighthouse was part of the first tour in February 2013 – but we haven't toured The Sagas of Noggin the Nog since 2017 and I suspect we won't be touring the show again, sadly. What’s intriguing is that although I haven't put anything on the Noggin Facebook page it seems to get likes and new followers every week, so Noggin is still important to many.
Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate created The Sagas of Noggin the Nog back in 1960. They made six ten-minute films for the BBC. The first film series told the story of how Noggin became king and, as the BBC asked for more, the second series was a story about an Ice Dragon, there were a number of other series after that. Tony Gleave and myself asked Peter Firmin (the artist) and Dan Postgate (Oliver Postgate, the writer, had sadly passed away and his son Dan had taken over the trust) if we could make a theatrical version of those first two stories.
Peter, then in his early eighties said yes, as long as we brought something new to it. And so Third Party and Mischievous Theatre, embarked on a long journey to co-produce and create a play of those first two series. Peter and Dan were amazingly kind and allowed us to use sections of the original broadcast material to project onto a backcloth which gave us context for each scene.
Over the years the play changed and costumes were improved and the dragon grew and we continued to enjoy performing it. The interesting and really important thing for us was that the play was for families and we soon discovered that many performances had large numbers of grandparents with their grandchildren ... and quite a smattering of grandparents without their grandchildren. I remember performing it to a large audience and one row was all elderly people who had made themselves Viking hats, swords and shields out of cardboard and were the first to shout and wave at Noggin; so it really was a cross generational show.
We, the cast, always made ourselves available at the end of the performance; we would come and sit on the stage, Sharpies for autographs in our hands, and would happily chat about the stories, have photographs with families and children in our heavy Viking hats; this was for us very much a part of the experience.
• All photos by Richard Davenprt Photography.