City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

From Planting to Painting Trees: Puppet State Theatre Presents World Premiere of JRR Tolkien’s Leaf by Niggle


By Lindsay Corr - Posted on 06 April 2016

Leaf by Niggle in Rehearsal_Credit Brian Hartley.jpg

Puppet State Theatre, the fantastic company behind the hugely successful stage adaptation of Jean Giono’s The Man Who Planted Trees, which has toured to sold out audiences for nine years, returns with a much anticipated staged version of JRR Tolkien's little known short story about an artist on a curious journey.

This storytelling show for ages 10 and over, created and performed by Richard Medrington, draws on Richard’s personal family history as an introduction to Tolkien’s tale, which Richard has been wanting to bring to life for over twenty years.

In 1993, Richard gave an acclaimed one-off storytelling performance of the piece at the Carberry Festival and has nurtured hopes of performing it to a wider audience ever since. Puppet State Theatre is delighted to have received permission from the Tolkien Trust to bring the story to life this year, as Richard explains:
“Since I first read Leaf by Niggle I have had this urge to share it and over twenty five years that desire has only got stronger. The story seems to offer different things each time I come to it, changing like the weather. Unlike most of Tolkien's stories, there are no wizards or elves, but it's a little bit magical all the same.”

Surrounded by ladders, bicycles and heirlooms, Richard Medrington recounts Tolkien’s miniature masterpiece, which is considered by some to be Tolkien’s most autobiographical work, springing from his fear of not finishing The Lord of the Rings.

Niggle is a struggling artist who is trying to complete his magnum opus, a painting of a curious tree. He isn’t sure when he will need to set out on his journey, but he is worried that he won’t be able to finish the painting before it’s time to leave.

This tale of transformation examines the relationship between an artist, his creation and his community, with a soundtrack composed by Michael John McCarthy and Karine Polwart, who was delighted to be involved, as she explains:
“This is my first ever commission to compose for theatre and it’s a challenge and a joy to collaborate with such an accomplished creative posse. Niggle’s journey, and Richard Medrington’s beautifully personal and familial framing of it, feels quite close to the bone for me, and very relevant to our times.”

The World Premiere takes place at The Studio in Edinburgh on Friday 15th April, with a preview on Thursday 14th and a Matinee & Evening performance on Saturday 16th April before touring to Stirling, Glasgow, Livingston, Cockermouth, Kendal, Tobermory, Dunfermline, Dumfries, New Galloway, Inverness, Banchory, Peebles and Findhorn.

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