This year’s Christmas play at the Guildhall Theatre in Derby is a co-production by Derby LIVE and Buxton-based theatre company, Babbling Vagabonds. Naughty Meg and the Christmas Elves will tell the story of the naughtiest girl in the world, Meg Barnileg.
She has reduced Mum and Dad to gibbering wrecks, neighbours hide their children from her cruel clutches and even the wasps give this tornado of trouble a wide berth. On one fateful day she upsets the Christmas Elves – and war is declared.
Told by the Elves, the audience will follow Meg on a journey to Elf-land as she comes face to face with her bad behaviour.
The Babbling Vagabonds are made up of Phil Coggins, Mark Hornsey and Tara Hornsey-Saunders. They started making theatre shows together in 2000 after meeting at drama school.
Mark said: “The winding path to this year’s production has been full of adventure and mischief. We’ve gathered tales together and re-told them until we’ve got it just right. We’ve made wonders out of old sofa cushions and turned feather dusters into exotic birds – every turn has had its moments of delight and head scratching, but we’re very pleased with the result….and are sure the audience will be too.”
Mark designs the shows, as well as turning his hand to making props and costumes and sometimes performing. He starred as Emilio, in The Christmas Chocolate Shop.
This year it is Phil’s turn in the spotlight, as he performs not one, but three characters in Naughty Meg and the Christmas Elves. He will be taking on the roles of Baxter the Elf, Mr Barnileg (Meg’s long suffering dad) and Miss Fenneywhistle. Phil’s role with Babbling Vagabonds is creating original theatre productions for theatres, arts centres, rural touring venues and schools.
He also regularly teaches and runs workshops with schools, youth colleges and community groups. He is really looking forward to taking to the stage for this year’s production.
“It’s such fun to tell this story that both children and adults can enjoy together, and the Guildhall Theatre is the perfect place for a magical Christmas treat. We are all very excited to bring this mischievous story to life this December,” said Phil.
Tara has been busy designing and making for Naughty Meg. From chickens to little critters, plates of eggs to quirky costumes and an awful lot of crochet, she has enjoyed every minute and is looking forward to seeing how it all works on stage.
Joining Phil on stage are Kitty Randle and Emma Bright, who have both worked with the Babbling Vagabonds before.
Kitty is returning to the Guildhall Theatre for a second Christmas, after starring in The Christmas Chocolate Shop last year. She will also take on three roles in this year’s show – Chiefie the Elf, Mrs Barnileg and the Vicar. Her previous adventures with them include playing Princess Mitzy in their production of The Devil and the Three Golden Hairs, Mother and Dragon in The Dragon and the Pearl and Sheryl in The Russian Soldier Who.
Her other theatre credits include: Vanessa Bell in Vanessa and Virginia, Mrs. Usher/Annie Besant in Sweet Comradeship, Electra in Orestes: Re-Examined at the Southwark Playhouse, Bernarda Alba in The House of Bernarda Alba (Rondo Theatre, Bath), Violet in Heresies (Bristol Old Vic Studio), Ophelia in Hamlet (Bath Shakespeare Festival and the Minack Theatre), Susanna Walcott in The Crucible (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield) Praying Girl in Iphigenia (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield).
Emma takes on the title role of Naughty Meg, as well as playing Elsie the Elf and Mrs Ginnywig in Naughty Meg and the Christmas Elves and has been drawing on her childhood memories in rehearsals. She used to hide peppercorns in with chocolate chips and put them on her younger sister’s ice cream without her knowing!
Emma has previously worked with The Babblers on their outdoor production of The Devil and The Three Golden Hairs and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at Buxton Opera House. Emma is Company manager of Middle Child, a Theatre Company based in Hull and associate company of Hull Truck Theatre. With Middle Child she has performed in 25, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Cinderella and Modern Life is Rubbish. She recently toured with Badapple Theatre Company playing Edie in The Thankful Village.
Naughty Meg and the Christmas Elves promises to be a wickedly comic Christmas tale for anyone who has ever been the slightest bit naughty – with plenty of funny moments for both adults and children. The production runs at the Guildhall Theatre from December 11-28, with tickets priced from £10.25 – £12.25, and concessions, family tickets, group and school rates are also available.
Bookings can be made through the Derby LIVE box office on 01332 255800 or on http://www.derbylive.co.uk