Show stuff

Sails, swords and synonyms

A chat with Jack about Vinland. A Viking storytelling adventure for ages 8 and up.

Vinland is inspired by the sagas of Erik the Red and his family – what drew you to these Viking tales?

Most of my shows look at where history and mythology meet, and how both contain different kinds of fictions. Nowhere is this more true than with the Viking sagas, which seamlessly and mystically blend historical account with legend and folk tale. The sagas centering on North America contain characters that likely really existed, but also stories of ghostly possessions, doppelgangers and sea monsters. It was this liminal zone between fantasy and fact that drives the story.

Why did you make a show about the Vikings?

There is a presentation of Vikings in a lot of the curriculum and popular culture at the moment as these cuddly, beneficent traders, which I guess is itself a backlash against the “rape and pillage” stereotype. But there’s no escaping the fact that the Vikings’ world, and much of their worldview, was violent, brutal and dark. I wanted to tell a story for younger audiences, in the spirit of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, that embraces this darkness.

Working with animation is a new element to your storytelling, can you tell us a little more about how this came about?

I’ve known Chris for a while, and am a big fan of his webcomics and art that he makes through his nom de plume Haveyoulostme. We spent a lot of time working on how we could make the visual side of the show feel as live as the spoken story, and along with our designer Molly Hawkins and director Ellie Taylor we came up with a complex but brilliant system where the art and animation moves and evolves with the set and props it’s projected onto.

How would you describe the show?

A poetic fantasy horror gig-theatre bloodbath for all the family. I know that sounds bonkers, but trust me, it works.

What can the audience expect from the show?

Epic guitar riffs, drum beats, graphic novel visuals, sails, swords and synonyms flying about. 80 minutes of two performers making gleeful chaos on stage. And a wolf!

Image credit: Ben Borley

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