Studio Theatre West Coast Tour: Saga of Ernest

Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Prism Arts Studio Theatre West Coast worked in residence at Distington Community School to create their own Viking Saga – “The Saga of Ernest”.

The production followed the journey of a young boy called Ernest while he attempts to find his family after they disappeared following a Viking raid in their village. It sees Ernest meet an intriguing host of characters including an ice giant and a riddling troll while journeying to save his family before the rise of the full moon.
The production was a combination of live action, puppetry and shadow theatre.

The production premiered to a captive audience at The Beggars Theatre in Millom on the 15th February. The theatre group then ventured to the Isle of Man to perform the production at the House of Manannan on the 2nd of March and at the Manx Museum on 3rd March. Both venues are rich with Viking influence making them perfect platforms to perform the production.
The theatre group returned to the west coast of Cumbria where the ‘Saga of Ernest’ was performed at Distington Community School on the 8th March and Westfield Primary School on the 15th March.

Large Curling Dragon by John Lake, Studio Theatre West.

To inform the production the theatre company researched their Viking heritage by visiting local Viking sites at St. Bees and Gosforth and Manx National Heritage.

The Vikings first appeared in Cumbria’s Eden valley in 876 AD. Danish leader, Halfdan, and his troops destroyed much of Carlisle. The Norwegian Vikings continued to invade Cumbria, setting out from bases in Ireland and the Isle of Man and then settling along the west coast of Cumbria.

Crosses, carvings, place names, words and traditions date back to these Norse times. The Vikings introduced the practice of Haaf fishing and Herdwick sheep, which are now such a feature of Cumbria today.

Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West, said: “Viking heritage is scattered across the towns and landscapes of West Cumbria and, from place names to the local dialect, their legacy is still evident today. This National Lottery grant will enable these young people to embark on a real journey of discovery to uncover and capture this fascinating heritage and share it with the rest of the community.”

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A Viking ready to attack, Prism Arts Studio Theatre West at the Isle of Man

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Making Viking cloth at Distington Community School

The project has been made possible by the support of Mayfield SEN School, Whitehaven, Distington Community School, Workington and Holme St Cuthbert’s Primary School, Solway, who will contribute their time and resources to the project.

Studio Theatre West and the Children of Distington and Holme St Cuthbert Primary Schools learn about Viking warfare.

Studio Theatre West and the Pupils of Distington and Holme St Cuthbert Primary Schools discover how the Vikings made and dyed cloth.

Studio Theatre discover their Viking Heritage on the Isle of Man with Heritage Partners Manx Heritage.  Visiting Peel Castle, the Manx Museum, the House of Manannan and Balladoole.

A Viking Invasion took over Distington Community School grounds on the 11th June from 10am – 2pm, with Herlid Vikings engaging in battle, weapon demonstrations and artworks on display.

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