I got to speak to Emma Joy Edwards, the Associate Director of Get Lost and Found, and the writer and director of Mischief and Mystery in Moominvalley. Across March and April, Jacksons Lane in North London will welcome artists from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and The Faroe Islands to share their beautiful, thrilling and often emotional work in Nordic Exposure.
Please tell us about your current project Mischief and Mystery in Moominvalley?
Based on the much-loved Moominland novels by Tove Jansson, this gentle heart-warming show tells the story of a year in Moominvalley. Moomintroll wakes up in the middle of winter with a “something- wrong -feeling”. There’s no sign of his good friend Snufkin, or the note Snufkin left him. As winter turns to Spring Snufkin returns, the days lengthen into a lazy summer and “the sea brings them all the adventures they could wish for”. Autumn barges in and Snufkin leaves once more for the Lonely Mountains. Each section of the story has an interactive element; audience members have a snowball fight, toast marshmallows around a fire and go sea-swimming. The characters of Moomintroll, Snufkin, Little My and Thingummy & Bob are brought to life with 2D rod puppets and life size 3D puppets.
The show is based on the much-loved novels by Tove Jansson, how was the process bringing the Moomin’s from page to stage?
The show was originally commissioned by Moomin characters to run alongside the Moomin exhibition at The Southbank Centre. The show was created in consultation with Sophia Jansson, Tove’s niece, who joined us in rehearsals. We wrote an original story which echoes the books’ themes: the love of nature, the value of friendship, the pain of separation and the acceptance of difference. And of course the iconic illustrations and characters are faithfully recreated in the puppets and pop up book set.
Do you have a particular favourite line in the piece?
I love Thingummy and Bob’s spoonerisms. They have a particular way of speaking. “What’s he got in his packback? Has he got a lacked punch?”
What you do want people to take away when they go see Mischief and Mystery in Moominvalley?
There’s lots of opportunities in the show for kids and their grownups to get involved so we really hope the show inspires audiences to get creative, use their imaginations and maybe make their own puppets and stories.
How exciting Is it to be part of the Nordic Exposure theatre season in the heart of North London?
As a Dane myself, I’m particularly thrilled to be part of a festival that celebrates Scandinavian and Nordic culture, and brings some incredible international shows to North London. The programme looks absolutely incredible!
What production changed your life when you saw it?
I have to say I was completely blown away when I saw War Horse at The National. It totally opened my eyes to the extraordinary power and beauty of puppetry.
What kind of theatre excites you?
I love theatre that makes you see things in a different way. Shows which make you question and open your eyes to see the world through a particular lens. I love work that is playful and fresh, and full of visual surprises and invention.
What do you love about theatre, and what do you want to change about theatre?
I love the communal experience of theatre and the immediacy of sitting in a room full of other people, watching something wonderful. The shared experience. The laughter and connection. I wish it was more affordable for people to go, especially to see West End shows, and I think it’s such a shame that schools are increasingly unable to take theatre trips, or bring companies into school. My love of theatre started as a child and I feel very lucky for that.
Who are your theatrical heroes?
I trained at Ecole Philipe Gaulier and he has to be a hero. He’s the greatest clown teacher and has influenced decades of performers and theatre makers to be ridiculous, bold, and vulnerable but never boring! The first time I saw Theatre de Complicité I was mesmerised. They are the titans. The past few years Manual Cinema from Chicago have been Edinburgh Festival highlights.
Where can people follow you on socials?