ED2019 Caro Meets ED2019 Children's Shows ED2019 Interviews ED2019 Review Edition

Colin Granger: Ogg ‘n’ Ugg ‘n’ Dogg

By | Published on Friday 26 July 2019

I’m always on the lookout for children’s shows doing something truly different. Many productions for younger festival-goers repeat similar stories and themes, even if they do them brilliantly. But as soon as I heard about this play it stood out, because it’s about a subject I have literally never seen tackled by a theatre company before. And, as you might imagine, I have seen a lot of companies tackling a lot of themes!

‘Ogg ‘n’ Ugg ‘n’ Dogg’ is about how people in ancient times domesticated animals – specifically, in this case, dogs – and it looks brilliant. To find out more about the show and the company behind it, I spoke to Colin Granger, writer and director.

CM: I am really intrigued by the subject of this show. Can you tell our readers what it’s all about?
CG: ‘Ogg ‘n’ Ugg ‘n’ Dogg’ is set in the fresh, sparkling new world just after the last Ice Age, and tells the tale of two young hunter-gatherers who pal up with a pair of wolves called Tooth ‘n’ Nail and choose a wolf pup to be their pet – and the world’s first dog. The play begins in pristine woodland in a place we now call Yorkshire, and ends in exactly the spot in the present with two dog walkers who bear a remarkable resemblance to Ogg ‘n’ Ugg.

CM: What themes does the show explore?
CG: The remarkable relationship humans have with the animal they chose to be their companion and friend.

CM: What styles of performance are used in the play?
CG:I always use a rich theatrical mix in my plays: physical comedy, music, mime, song, story-telling, puppetry – whatever it takes to tell a story.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the central characters? Do they speak a language we would understand?
CG: With their bows, arrows and spears, Ogg ‘n’ Ugg rule supreme and that sometimes goes a bit to their heads. Tooth ‘n’ Nail are more down to earth and are far more savvy. Lucky for us they all speak English: Ogg ‘n’ Ugg with a Yorkshire accent, and the wolves, gangster rap.

CM: I think it’s a really interesting subject to explore, especially for a younger audience. What inspired you to focus on the evolution and domestication of dogs?
CG: Because the story of how humans created an animal companion for themselves is such an inspiring and positive one. I felt a play about this would interest everyone, no matter how young or old you were or what walk of life you come from.

CM: Are you a fan of dogs yourself? Do you have a favourite breed?
CG:Yes, I’m very much a fan but I don’t have a favourite breed. My favourite dog is a mongrel as I believe you get more dog for your money and much more character. My first dog as a child was a mix of collie, labrador, and retriever – perfect!

CM: What made you decide to bring the show to Edinburgh? Why do you think it’s a good fit for the Fringe?
CG: Because of the opportunity of showing it at the best performing arts showcase in the world. Yes, I think ‘Ogg ‘n’ Ugg ‘n’ Dogg’ is a perfect fit because it’s new and original and that’s what the Fringe should be all about.

CM: Have you done shows in Edinburgh before? What are you expecting from this year’s festival?
CG: I’ve been coming to the Edinburgh Fringe for over thirty years as a promoter, producer, playwright, programmer, venue manager, and even at the beginning, as a performer until I decided I was no actor, and I’ve come this year. Always optimistic, we are hoping for great audiences.

CM: Can we talk a bit about the company? How did Theatre Fideri Fidera come into being, and what are its aims?
CG: Theatre Fideri Fidera came out of a decision to concentrate on things we loved doing the most. So, in 2017 my partner Marina Kobler (stage manager and designer), and our daughter Natasha (performer and tour manager), set up a company of travelling players. We’ve taken our first two plays to all parts of the UK and Ireland and are looking forward to doing the same with Ogg ‘n’ Ugg ‘n’ Dogg. Our aim was to establish ourselves as a leading touring theatre company producing new work and I think we have achieved that aim.

CM: Do you have any grand ambitions for the future?
CG: Not really, I’m happy to just carry on doing what I love.

CM: What happens next for this show? Are there plans for further festival visits or tour dates?
CG: We already have been booked for a rural tour in the autumn and a run at Komedia Brighton in December and are looking forward to a national tour in 2020.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this show? Any new projects in the pipeline?
CG: Yes, a new play is already on the way!

‘Ogg ‘n’ Ugg ‘n’ Dogg’ was performed at Gilded Balloon Teviot at Edinburgh Festival 2019.

Photo: Paul Mansfield