Once upon a time—the year 1983, in fact—the Ontario Ministry of Energy wanted to educate youngsters on energy conservation. Karen Waterman wrote a play called The Conserving Kingdom. In it, King Kilojoule of Saver City doesn’t want his daughter, Princess Penny Wise, to marry Prince Wantnot of Wasterville. Why? Wasterville is polluted and cluttered with garbage. And Prince Wantnot squanders his kingdom’s energy resources, much to the detriment of their sole energy supplier, a bumbling dragon named Dudley. Wantnot needed energy education!
The play was performed in grade schools from 1984 to 1987, in three provincial tours, in both English and French. The kids got the message, and they were entertained. They especially liked Dudley, the funniest character in the cast. The play’s popularity led to a broadcast version for TV Ontario in December 1986. Its producers, Ira Levy and Peter Williamson of Breakthrough Entertainment, saw Dudley’s appeal extending beyond just a TV special.
Dudley the Dragon’s career was just beginning.
Sources: Judy Nyman, Toronto Star, October 21, 1984, “Play on Energy Conservation a Big Hit,” p. E19; Rita Zekas, Toronto Star, December 20, 1986, “Hothead Dudley Fuelling Career with Energy Film,” p. F4.