Caro Meets Children's Show Interview

Matt Borgatti: The Ballad Of Rudy

By | Published on Friday 18 December 2020

When I heard that Goblin was bringing its children’s show ‘The Ballad Of Rudy’ to London’s The Crazy Coqs at Brassiere Zedel, I immediately thought that would be a great experience for families – a lovely show in a fabulous venue. But, of course, the introduction of tier three – and then tier four – COVID restrictions in London stopped that.

However, the good news is that the show is still going ahead for online viewing. You can either tune in for a livestream of the show on 27 Dec or watch it on demand for a short period following the broadcast.

Which means it will be available for online consumption during that ‘in between period’ after Christmas but before New Year, when interesting distractions are often welcome.

I spoke to Goblin’s Matt Borgatti to find out more about the show, and the company, and staging a show during the pandemic.

CM: Can you start by telling us what ‘The Ballad Of Rudy’ is all about? What story does it tell?
MB: ‘The Ballad Of Rudy’ tells the story of a reindeer – called Rudy – who is a little bit different. He doesn’t fit in with the other reindeer, so goes on an adventure meeting a variety of different musical animals, including a jazz penguin, a polar bear, an arctic fox and a walrus.

Through his journey he hears and plays new and exciting music and learns life isn’t about following the herd.

CM: How would you describe it, style or genre wise…? What kind of performance is it? 
MB: It’s an arctic jazz musical with storytelling, puppetry and live music. It’s funny and the story has a big heart. Performing it at The Crazy Coqs at Brassiere Zedel will be really magical – it’s a beautiful art deco cabaret venue. We did a show there last year – the first time they had ever hosted a performance for children – and there’s such a special atmosphere.

CM: Obviously COVID restrictions mean that this will now be a livestreamed performance. But are there any up sides to having the livestream element?
MB: Yes, totally, it’s so exciting that this show can be seen at home all around the world.

One thing that has come out of the COVID situation is that it has encouraged us to think about new and innovative ways of reaching audiences – and livestreaming seems to be a great way to do this.

We’ve also started a podcast and are planning a digital series for next year – something that wasn’t really on our radar when we were making shows before.

CM: Who is this performance aimed at? Who is it suitable for? 
MB: It’s aimed at children ages three and up, but we hope it will be able to be enjoyed by the whole family together. We’ve often had adults saying how much they’ve enjoyed the live music and the characters.

CM: Can you tell us about the creative team behind it? Who is involved?
MB: The original show was created by composers Will Dollard, Mary Erskine and David Lydon, written by myself, directed by Andy Barry and designed by Katie Scott.

Since first creating ‘Rudy’ in 2013, as Goblin we’ve gone on to make lots more shows, including numerous UK tours and productions at Southbank Centre, National Theatre and The Royal Albert Hall.

We’ve got some brilliant performers for this version – Rob Gathercole, who starred in the UK tour of ‘Dreamboats And Petticoats’; Mia Jerome, who has previously worked with Goblin and Punchdrunk Theatre; and Matthew Burns, who starred in ‘The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button’ at Southwark Playhouse, which won Best Performance Ensemble at the Off-West End Awards 2020.

CM: Why did you decide to do a version of the show for Christmas 2020?
MB: We’ve been performing versions of the show since 2013 and it’s been on all around the UK, including The Royal Exchange in Manchester in 2015 and New Wolsey in Ipswich in 2018. It’s the first show Goblin made so it holds a very special place in our hearts! It’s an original story with a positive message about the importance of creativity and self identity, which we think is relevant to young people today.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about Goblin Theatre? What are its aims and what hopes do you have for the future? 
MB: We’re a small company that has been growing and growing – and we hope to be able to keep going. We’re interested in creating new musical shows with contemporary themes that children of all backgrounds can relate to and enjoy.

We want to continue with our Goblin In Schools programme – where we tour our shows to schools for free – we’ve reached so many audiences who have never seen live theatre before and who face barriers to engaging.

We also hope to start touring further afield. Last year Goblin’s producer was part of a UK/US exchange funded by Stage One – who are brilliant and so supportive. This year, due to the pandemic, we sadly had to cancel our first international tour, to China, but hopefully we can pursue more projects like that once COVID is over.

CM: Other that impacting on the ‘Rudy’ performance, how else has COVID impacted on the company?
MB: It is a challenging time for everyone in theatre at the moment – and the hardest thing is not being able to plan ahead with all the uncertainty. We’ve been lucky to receive Arts Council and Culture Recovery Fund grants to keep us going, but we’ve had all our planned productions cancelled this year – including a bigger-scale version of ‘Rudy’ in London.

CM: What’s coming up next for you, what’s in the pipeline? 
MB: As well as Rudy on 27 Dec, we’re working on new episodes of our podcast. Our musical adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ will be released on 19 Dec on our website, and ‘Pinocchio’ is coming early next year.

We will hopefully be back to touring soon and will also be creating a new digital project based on updating nursery rhymes. See our website or @goblintheatre to keep up to date!

As aforementioned, because of COVID restrictions, you will no longer be able to see ‘The Ballad Of Rudy in person. You can, however, tune in to the live stream, which will be broadcast on 27 December at 3.00pm, and will be available to view on demand for 48 hours after the event has ended. See this page here to book.

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Photo: Annika Morley