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Richard Medrington, who is performing Leaf by Niggle at the Scottish Storytelling Centre as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was joined by Karine Polwart on Friday 12 August to celebrate the publication of one of JRR Tolkien's lesser-known short stories.
To coincide with Puppet State Theatre's stage production, HarperCollins have published Leaf by Niggle for the first time in a standalone edition. Karine Polwart, who is also performing in Wind Resistance, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, co-composed the music score with Michael John McCarthy.
HarperCollins' recent release, which features cover artwork commissioned for Puppet State Theatre's production, enables readers to savour one of Tolkien’s most elegant and haunting short stories. Written in 1939, Leaf by Niggle was first published in the January 1945 edition of the Dublin Review. It has since been published alongside other material in Tree and Leaf (1964), The Tolkien Reader (1966), Poems and Stories (1980), Tales from the Perilous Realm (1997), and A Tolkien Miscellany (2002).
Leaf by Niggle is often seen as an allegory of Tolkien's own creative process, and, to an extent, of his life. It is a tale of transformation, which examines the relationship between an artist, his creation and his community.
Richard Medrington is the artistic director of Puppet State Theatre Company and when speaking for an invited audience at The Saltire Society on Thursday 11 August, he mentioned the intrigue of bringing this little tale to the fore through a live retelling:
“Discovering this story was like dropping a stone into a well and waiting for the splash to know how deep it is. After more than 20 years I'm still waiting for the splash! There are echoes of Tolkien's own life and creative journey, but also aspects of art, community, life and death that anyone can relate to.”
Puppet State Theatre's production of Leaf by Niggle is produced by Red Bridge Arts and part of the Made in Scotland 2016 showcase. It is on at the Scottish Storytelling Centre at 5pm until Sun 28 Aug (not 15, 22, 23). Book tickets
With thanks to the Tolkien Trust | Supported by Creative Scotland