Caro Meets Children's Show Interview Theatre Interview

Peter Machen: Sigurd, The Dragon Slayer

By | Published on Wednesday 16 December 2015


If you are looking for a reasonably priced yet cultural, colourful and entertaining family treat over the Christmas period, Klevamunki’s ‘Sigurd, The Dragon Slayer’ at The Tabard Theatre sounds like the perfect choice.

I certainly want to go, and I might consider letting my daughter accompany me. To find out more about the play, and the brains behind it, I spoke to Klevamunki’s Peter Machen, the talented creator of the show.

CM: Tell us a bit about ‘Sigurd, The Dragon Slayer’ – what’s the story all about?
PM: ‘Sigurd’ is about a young viking prince that wants to go off on adventures like his friends. Unfortunately his mother and stepfather want him to learn a trade, so they apprentice him to the royal blacksmith, Regin. Unbeknown to anyone, Regin wants to get his hands on a large treasure hoard that a fire breathing dragon called Fafnir is guarding. Regin finds out that Sigurd has been chosen by Odin to be a great viking warrior, and sees his chance to get his hands on the treasure. So off they go on their adventure.

CM: What is it based on? Did you use any particular source material to create the show?
PM: It’s based on the Volsunga, a viking saga on which Wagner’s Ring Cycle is based. There are echoes of Greek legends and you can see the tragic, fateful influence that is the thread of these ancient stories. The source material is pretty grim in parts and very sad but our version is much more hopeful, and funny – well, silly, really.

CM: What made you choose this story? Why does it make a good show?
PM: A long time ago I was looking for a children-friendly show to do, and was looking at a lot of old folk stories and legends. I used to love Viking legends when I was younger, so gave them a revisit, and found the story of Sigurd. It was one of the source materials for Tolkien and helped him shape ‘Lord of The Rings’, so if it was good enough for Mr Tolkien, I was pretty sure it would be good enough for me. The different characters help make a physically interesting show and there’s a Dragon. Dragons always make good shows.

CM: What genre would you say this is? What kind of performance styles come into the show?
PM: The show was created using some of the principals of Commedia del’Arte, so there is an element of mask use and very physical characterisation. There’s lots and lots of audience interaction and there is a light, comic line running throughout the show. It’s a little like Pantomime – we have a principal boy – but better, because it has a Dragon.

CM: Are there any challenges inherent in bringing a show featuring a dragon to the stage? How have you chosen to portray the beast?
PM: We contemplated bringing a real one, but the fire assessment at the theatre ruled it out. Health and safety spoils everything. So, instead we have a puppet, although we might still and sneak a real one in.

CM: What sort of age range is the show aimed at?
PM: We aim for a mental age rather than a physical age, because we are all boys and girls at heart that love a good story and to laugh. So, bring your inner and outer 6 year old

CM: Tell us about Klevamunki – how did the company come together, and what are its aims?
PM: I have been making theatre for about twenty years. I co-founded and ran a company in the Midlands called negativequity, it operated for about 9 years and made original work with a physical life. We used a lot of dance and movement to create narrative and character exploration. I always wanted to come back to making shows and the time seemed right to do it in a more official form. Klevamunki is essentially me and the the other actors involved in any one project at a time. I just want to make interesting and diverse work that grabs the imagination.

CM: What’s next for the company?
PM: The Tabard have been brilliant and very supportive and we are looking at doing something based on Grimm’s Fairytales next year. I also want to do quite a large cast based piece with more grown up content next year, which I am ruminating on, and I have been working with a writer and two great actors on something we are looking to do a scratch performance of early next year. It’s all about the funding though, so if there are any angels out there…!

‘Sigurd, The Dragon Slayer’ is on at Tabard Theatre from 19-30 Dec, and is suitable for ages 6 and up. See the venue website here for more info, and to book.