back to All About David Wood

All About David Wood - Biography

1944-
Nationality: English

Place of Birth: Sutton, Surrey, England

Genre(s): Children's fiction; Plays; Screenplays


Award(s):

  • Sidney The MonsterNottinghamshire Children's Book of the Year Award, 1990, for Sidney the Monster.
  • Writer of Tom's Midnight Garden (based on the book by Philippa Pearce) the Unicorn Theatre production of which won the Equity Award for Best Show for Children and Young People, 2001.
  • Writer of Tom’s Midnight Garden (based on the book by Philippa Pearce) the Library Theatre production of which won the Equity Award for Best show for Children and Young People, 2003.
  • Winner of Distinguished Playwriting Award, 2003 for SPOT'S BIRTHDAY PARTY (based on the books by Eric Hill). Presented by the American Alliance of Theatre and Education.
  • In 2004 he was awarded an OBE for services to literature and drama in the Queen's birthday honours.
  • Winner of Distinguished Playwriting Award, 2007 for DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD (based on the book by Roald Dahl). Presented by the American Alliance of Theatre and Education.

Personal Information: Family: Born February 21, 1944, in Sutton, Surrey, England; son of Richard Edwin and Audrey Adele (Fincham) Wood; married Sheila Ruskin, 1966 (marriage dissolved, 1970); married Jacqueline Stanbury (an actress), January 17, 1975; children: Katherine, Rebecca. Education: Worcester College, Oxford, (B.A. with honors), 1966. Avocational Interests: Writing, conjuring, collecting old books. Memberships: British Actors Equity Association, Society of Authors and the Inner Magic Circle (with Gold Star). Addresses: Agent: (for plays) Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Ltd., Waverley House, 7-12 Noel Street, London, W1F 8GQ, England; (for children's books) Eunice McMullen, Low Ibbotsholme Cottage, Off Bridge Lane, Troutbeck Bridge, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 1HU, England.

Career: Actor, composer, producer, director, and playwright. W.S.G. Productions Ltd., director, 1966--; Whirligig Theatre (touring children's theatre company), cofounder and director, 1979--; Verronmead Limited (television production company), cofounder and director, 1983--; Westwood Theatre Productions, cofounder and director, 1986-1994. W2 Productions, cofounder and director, 1995 -- Member of drama advisory panel of Arts Council of Great Britain, 1978-1980. Chair, Action for Children's Arts, 1997 --, Board Member, Polka Children's Theatre, 1979 --, Trustee, Wimbledon Theatre, 1996 – 2003.  Trustee, The Story Museum, 2006 --.

WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:

CHILDREN'S PLAYS

The Tinder Box
(two-act; adaptation of a story by Hans Christian Andersen), produced in Worcester, England, at Swan Theatre, 1967.
Lyrics for Cinderella
(book by Sid Colin, music by John Gould), produced in Glasgow, Scotland, 1968. (With Sheila Ruskin)
Gingerbread Man The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See. . . (two-act musical;
adaptation of works by Edward Lear; produced in Worcester at Swan Theatre, 1968, and in London at Jeannetta Cochrane Theatre, 1969), Samuel French (London), 1970. (With Ruskin)
Gingerbread Man Larry the Lamb in Toytown
(two-act musical; adaptation of stories by S. G. Hulme Beaman; produced in Worcester at Swan Theatre, 1969, and in London at Shaw Theatre, 1973), Samuel French, 1977.
Gingerbread Man The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner
(two-act musical; produced in Worcester at Swan Theatre, 1970, and in London at Shaw Theatre, 1971, and 1972, plus tour including London 1979), Samuel French, 1972.
Gingerbread Man Flibberty and the Penguin
(two-act musical; produced in Worcester at Swan Theatre, 1971, and on tour 1978), Samuel French, 1974.
Gingerbread Man Tickle (produced on tour in England, 1972, and in London at Arts Theatre, 1977), Samuel French, 1978.
Gingerbread Man The Papertown Paperchase (two-act musical; produced in Worcester at Swan Theatre, 1972, and in London at Greenwich Theatre, 1973 and tour including London 1984), Samuel French, 1976.
Gingerbread Man Hijack over Hygenia (two-act musical; produced in Worcester at Swan Theatre, 1973), Samuel French, 1974.
Gingerbread Man Old Mother Hubbard
(two-act musical; produced in Hornchurch, Essex, England, at Queen's Theatre, 1975), Samuel French, 1976.
Gingerbread Man Old Father Time
(two-act musical; produced in Hornchurch, Essex, at Queen's Theatre, 1976), Samuel French, 1977.
Gingerbread Man The Gingerbread Man
(two-act musical; produced in Basildon, Essex, England, at Towngate Theatre, 1976, and in London at Old Vic, 1977 and many London seasons and tours since), Samuel French, 1977.
The Gingerbread Man
Gingerbread Man Mother Goose's Golden Christmas
(two-act; produced in Hornchurch, Essex, at Queen's Theatre, 1977), Samuel French, 1978.
Gingerbread Man Nutcracker Sweet
(two-act; produced in Farnham, Surrey, England, at Redgrave Theatre, 1977, and in London, 1980), Samuel French, 1981.
Gingerbread Man Babes in the Magic Wood
(two-act; produced in Hornchurch, Essex, at Queen's Theatre, 1978), Samuel French, 1979.
Gingerbread Man There Was an Old Woman . . .
(two-act; produced in Leicester, England, at Haymarket Theatre, 1979), Samuel French, 1980.
Gingerbread Man Cinderella
(two-act; produced in Hornchurch, Essex, at Queen's Theatre, 1979), Samuel French, 1980.
Gingerbread Man The Ideal Gnome Expedition
(produced as Chish 'n' Fips, Liverpool, England, 1980; produced as The Ideal Gnome Expedition, on tour and in London, 1981), Samuel French, 1982.
Gingerbread Man

Aladdin
(produced in Hornchurch, Essex, 1980), Samuel French, 1981.

Gingerbread Man Robin Hood
(With Dave and Toni Arthur) (produced in Nottingham, England, 1981, and in London, 1982), Samuel French, 1985.
Gingerbread Man Meg and Mog Show
(adaptation of stories by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski; produced in London, 1981), Samuel French, 1984.
Gingerbread Man Meg and Mog: Four Plays for Children,
(adaptation of the full length play) Puffin, 1994.
Gingerbread Man Dick Whittington and Wondercat
(produced in Hornchurch, Essex, 1981), Samuel French, 1982.
Gingerbread Man Jack and the Giant
(produced in Hornchurch, Essex, 1982), Samuel French, 1987.
Gingerbread Man

The David Wood Magic and Music Show
(produced in London and on tour, 1982.
)

 

Gingerbread Man The Selfish Shellfish
(produced in Farnham, Surrey, England, and London, 1983), Amber Lane Press (Summertown, Oxford), 1983, Samuel French, 1983.
Gingerbread Man Jack the Lad (With Dave and Toni Arthur) produced in Manchester, England, 1984, Samuel French 1991.
Gingerbread Man The Old Man of Lochnagar
(adaptation of the story by Prince Charles; produced in Aberdeen and London, 1986), Amber Lane Press, 1986.
The Old Man of Lochnagar
Gingerbread Man Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish
(music by Peter Pontzen; adaptation of the story by Michael Foreman; produced in Denbigh, Wales, 1986, and in London, 1988), Samuel French, 1986 and Amber Lane Press, 1986.
Gingerbread Man The See-Saw Tree
(produced in Farnham, Surrey, 1986, and in London, 1987), Amber Lane Press, 1987, and Samuel French, 1987.
Gingerbread Man Play Theatre
(includes The Nativity Play and Jack and the Beanstalk), two volumes, illustrated by Richard Fowler, Pavilion (London) and Holt (New York City), 1987.
Gingerbread Man The Pied Piper
(With Dave and Toni Arthur) (based on the poem by Robert Browning) (Exeter and tour) 1988, Samuel French, 1991.
Gingerbread Man Save The Human
(based on the story by Tony Husband and David Wood) Cambridge, London and tour 1990, Samuel French 1990.
Gingerbread Man (Adaptor) The BFG
(Big Friendly Giant) (adapted for the stage from the book by Roald Dahl) London and tour, 1991, Samuel French, 1991.
Gingerbread Man The BFG: Plays for Children,
(adaptation of the full-length play) illustrated by Jane Walmsley, Puffin, 1993.
Gingerbread Man (Adaptor) The Witches
(adapted for the stage from the book by Dahl) London and tour 1992, Samuel French, 1994.
The Witches
Gingerbread Man (Book, Music, Lyrics) Rupert and the Green Dragon: A Musical Play, (based on the Rupert stories and characters by Mary Tourtel and Alfred Bestall, (Leatherhead, England, and tour) 1993, Samuel French (London, England, New York, NY), 1997.
Gingerbread Man (Adaptor) Noddy,
(adapted for the stage) (from the book by Enid Blyton) London and tour 1993, Samuel French, 1995.
Gingerbread Man The Christmas Story,
(a nativity play) A and C Black 1996.
Gingerbread Man (Adaptor) Babe, the Sheep-Pig,
(adapted from the book The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith, (London and tour, 1996) Samuel French (London, England, New York, NY) , 1997.
Gingerbread Man The Forest Child
(opera, adapted from the book by Richard Edwards) Music by Derek Clark.  Welsh National Opera tour 1998.
Gingerbread Man More Adventures of Noddy
(based on the stories of Enid Blyton) London and tour 1998, Samuel French 1998.
Gingerbread Man (With Janet Grant) Theatre for Children: Guide to Writing, Adapting, Directing, and Acting,
Faber and Faber, 1997 and Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1999.
Gingerbread Man The Twits
(adapted from the book by Roald Dahl) Coventry, tour, London, 1999 published Samuel French.
Gingerbread Man Spot's Birthday Party
(based on the books by Eric Hill) London and tour 2000, Samuel French 2002.
Gingerbread Man The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch
(one-act play with music) (based on the book by David and Rhonda Armitage), Oxford Playhouse, 2000.
Gingerbread Man Fantastic Mr Fox
(adapted for the stage from the book by Roald Dahl), Belgrade Theatre, Coventry 2000.
Gingerbread Man James and the Giant Peach
(adapted for the stage from the book by Roald Dahl), Cardiff and Birmingham and tour 2001.
Gingerbread Man Tom's Midnight Garden
(based on the book by Philippa Pearce) London and tour, 2001, Samuel French 2001.
Tom's Midnight Garden
Gingerbread Man The Twits: Plays for Children
(adaptation of the full-length play.  Published by Puffin (2003).
Gingerbread Man Lady Lollipop
Adaptation of Dick King-Smith’s book, published by Walker Books. (2005)
Gingerbread Man FimbleFimbles Live. 
Adaptation of children’s tv programme (BBC/Novel), London and tour, produced by Fiery Angel Ltd (2005)
Gingerbread Man The Queen’s Handbag. 
Play written for Children’s Party at the Palace to celebrate the Queen’s 80th birthday.  Performed live in Buckingham Palace Gardens and broadcast by BBC tv. (2006).
Gingerbread Man Danny the Champion of the World
(adapted for the stage from Roald Dahl’s book) Cardiff (2004), London, tour.  Published by Samuel French (2006)
Gingerbread Man The Tiger Who Came To Tea.
(adapted from the book by Judith Kerr) London and tour 2008.
Gingerbread Man

George’s Marvellous Medicine
(adapted from Roald Dahl’s book) London and tour.  2009.

 

Gingerbread Man Danny the Champion of the World: Plays for Children
(adaptation of the full-length play) Puffin 2009.

Contributor of plays to books, including Robin Hood and Friar Tuck and Marian and the Witches' Charm, in Playstages, edited by John Alcock, Methuen, 1987. David Wood : Plays 1 and 2 (Anthologies, four plays in each) Methuen, 1999.

CHILDREN'S FICTION

Gingerbread Man

The Operats of Rodent Garden,
illustrated by Geoffrey Beitz, Methuen (London and New York City), 1984.
Gingerbread Man The Gingerbread Man
(from Wood's own play), illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert, Pavilion, (London) Salem House, 1985 and Puffin, (London) 1987.
The Gingerbread Man
Gingerbread Man The Discorats,
illustrated by Beitz, Methuen, (London) 1985.
Gingerbread Man Poems in the Kingfisher Book of Comic Verse
Anthology edited by Roger McGough, Kingfisher, (London) 1986.
Gingerbread Man (With Don Seed) Chish 'n' Fips,
Boxtree, (London) 1987.
Gingerbread Man Sidney the Monster,
illustrated by Clive Scruton, (hardback) Walker, (London) 1988, (paperback) Walker (London) 1990.
Gingerbread Man (With Richard Fowler) Happy Birthday, Mouse!: A First Counting Book, Grosset, 1990, Hodder & Stoughton, (London) 1991.
Gingerbread Man Save the Human!
(from Wood's own play), illustrated by Tony Husband, Hamish Hamilton (London), 1991.
Gingerbread Man

Poems in the Much Better Story Book Anthology,
Red Fox, (London) 1992.

 

Gingerbread Man

(With Richard Fowler) Baby Bear's Buggy Ride (To The Shops) and (To The Park),
Hazar, (London) 1993.

Gingerbread Man Bedtime Story: A Slip-in-the-Slot Book,
Ingram, 1994, Transworld (London) 1995 Western Pub. Co (New York City), 1995.
Republished as Mole's Bedtime Story, Doubleday 2007
Gingerbread Man Kingfisher Pop-up Theatre: Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, illustrated by Fowler, Kingfisher (London), 1994.
Gingerbread Man Pop-Up Theater Proudly Presents Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Kingfisher (New York City), 1994.
Gingerbread Man (With Richard Fowler) The Magic Show,
Hazar, (London) 1995.
Gingerbread Man The Christmas Story,
a nativity play, A & C Black, (London) 1996.
Gingerbread Man (With Richard Fowler) Mole's Summer Story, Transworld, (London) 1997. Mole's Winter Story
Gingerbread Man (With Richard Fowler) Mole's Winter Story, Transworld, (London) 1998.
Gingerbread Man (With Richard Fowler) Silly Spider!,
Transworld, (London) 1998, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Gingerbread Man The Phantom Cat of the Opera,
illustrated by Peters Day, Pavilion (London), 2000, Watson-Gutpill (New York, NY), 2000.
Gingerbread Man (With Richard Fowler) Funny Bunny's Magic Show,
Transworld, (London) 2000
Gingerbread Man (With Richard Fowler) The Toy Cupboard,
Pavilion, (London) 2000, Watson-Gutpill (New York, NY), 2001.
Gingerbread Man (With Richard Fowler) Under the Bed,
Tony Potter Publishing (2005), Barron (US) 2006.
Gingerbread Man A Present for Father Christmas
(illustrated by Dana Kubik) Walker Books (London) Candlewick Press (US) 2008.

PLAYS

Gingerbread Man

(With David Wright) Hang Down Your Head and Die
(two-act), produced in Oxford, England, at Oxford Playhouse, in London at Comedy Theatre, and in New York City at Mayfair Theatre, 1964.
Gingerbread Man Co-wrote The Oxford Line
(two-act) produced on tour and at the Edinburgh Festival, 1965.
Gingerbread Man (With John Gould) Four Degrees Over
(two-act), produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, and in London at Mermaid Theatre and Fortune Theatre, 1966.
Gingerbread Man (With Mick Sadler and Gould) And Was Jerusalem,
produced in Oxford, 1966; produced as A Present from the Corporation in Worcester, England, at Swan Theatre, and in London, 1967.
Gingerbread Man (With David Wright) A Life in Bedrooms
(two-act), produced in Edinburgh at Traverse Theatre, 1967; produced as The Stiffkey Scandals of 1932 in London at Queen's Theatre, 1968.
Gingerbread Man (With Gould) Three to One On
(two-act), produced in Edinburgh at Edinburgh Festival on tour and BBC2 tv, 1968.
Gingerbread Man (With Gould) Postscripts
(two-act), produced in London at Hampstead Theatre Club, 1969.
Gingerbread Man (With Gould) Down Upper Street
(two-act), produced in London at King's Head Theatre Club, 1971.
Gingerbread Man (With Gould) Just the Ticket
(two-act), produced in Leatherhead, Surrey, England, at Thorndike Theatre, 1973.
Gingerbread Man Rock Nativity
(two-act musical; music by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent; produced in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, at University Theatre, 1974; produced as A New Tomorrow in Wimbledon, England, at Wimbledon Theatre, 1976), Weinberger, 1977.
Gingerbread Man (With Iwan Williams) Maudie
(two-act), produced in Leatherhead, Surrey, at Thorndike Theatre, 1974.
Gingerbread Man (With Bernard Price and Julian Sluggett) Chi-Chestnuts
(two-act), produced in Chichester, England, at Assembly Rooms, 1975.
Gingerbread Man (With Gould) Think of a Number
(two-act), produced in Peterborough, England, at Key Theatre, 1975.
Gingerbread Man (Coauthor) More Chi-Chestnuts
(two-act), produced in Chichester at Assembly Rooms, 1976.
Gingerbread Man (With Gould) Bars of Gould
(two-act revue), produced in Exeter, England, at Northcott Theatre, 1977.
Gingerbread Man

(With Gould) The Luck of the Bodkins
(two-act; adaptation of a work by P.G. Wodehouse), produced in Windsor at Theatre Royal, 1978.

Gingerbread Man Abbacadabra
(music by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, lyrics by Don Black, Mike Batt, and Ulvaeus), produced in London at Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, 1983.

Also writer for television, including the series Playaway, 1973-77, Emu's Christmas Adventure, 1977, Writer's Workshops, Schools' tv, Thames, 1978, Chish 'n' Fips, 1984, Chips' Comic, 1984, Seeing and Doing, 1986, The Gingerbread Man, adapted from David Wood's play, 1986, The Old Man of Lochnagar (adapted for TV from David's Wood's play based on the book by HRH The Prince of Wales), Channel 4, 1987, Back Home (adaptation of the story by Michelle Magorian), 1989 Watch, schools' TV series, Spelthorne/BBC, 1992, The Gingerbread Man (animation children's tv series) FilmFair/Central, 1992.

Author of the screenplay Swallows and Amazons, released by Anglo EMI Ltd., 1974, and Tide Race, 1990. Contributor of articles to Drama and London Drama.

Media Adaptations:

Wood's stage adaptation of Enid Blyton's books was adapted into the video production Noddy, BBC Video, 1994.

Lyrics and Song Writing:

Have you seen Manchester?, 69 Theatre Company, Manchester, 1969.

Dead Centre of the Midlands, revue, (music by John Gould), Swan Theatre, Worcester, 1970.

Turn Your Own Sod, revue, (music by John Gould), Swan Theatre, Worcester, 1972.

The Forest Child (a children's opera based on the book by Richard Edwards, libretto by David Wood, music by Derek Clark), commissioned by Welsh National Opera, touring to primary schools, 1998.

"Sidelights"
Since 1967 I have written approximately 60 plays for children. It is still a passion and a real challenge. It never gets easier! My plays are usually written for professional adult actors to perform in theatres for audiences of children in family and school parties; but an increasing number of schools put on productions of their own. I write original plays and adaptations of popular books. For musical plays I often write the music and lyrics of the songs.

My aims haven't changed. I am trying to give children an exciting, memorable theatre experience by triggering their imaginations, making them laugh and sometimes cry, emotionally involving them in a really good story. I want to use the magic of theatre - the lighting, the sound, the scenery, the costumes, the music, the movement, to provide a unique, special event; this is why I prefer to work in theatres rather than schools - in theatres I have more control! I produce and direct many of my plays for my own company, Whirligig Theatre (founded with John Gould in 1979), and for other companies, both commercial and subsidised.

Over the years, children's theatre in the UK has achieved a somewhat higher status and profile than in the days when I started. There are more companies and more dedicated practitioners. But the attitude shown towards children's theatre by everyone - the public, the theatrical profession, critics and funding bodies, still relegates it to the second division rather than hailing it as the exciting and groundbreaking art form it can be. Children's theatre is not just a means to an end, a way of building up an audience for adult theatre of the future. It is an important branch of theatre which should be celebrated and supported now. It should not be an optional extra, nourished when funds allow, but the first to be dropped when money is tight. One of the problems is always money, because children's theatre is often costly to mount, yet the rightly low seat price yields far less at the box office than an equivalent adult show.

But, in fairness, over the 35 years I have specialised in this area, the quantity and quality of theatre for children in the UK has undoubtedly gone up considerably.

I am fortunate in that many of my plays are performed all over the world; my work is becoming more popular now in the United States. And, since writing my book, THEATRE FOR CHILDREN : GUIDE TO WRITING, ADAPTING, DIRECTING AND ACTING, published by Faber and Faber in the UK and Ivan R. Dee Inc. in the United States, I have been asked to lecture and do workshops in Chicago, San Diego, Shreveport and New York.

Since the late 1980s I have also written children's books, many in collaboration with Richard Fowler, illustrator and paper engineer. School visits give me great pleasure. I try to enthuse children with the message, "Books are Fun", using my own books and stories. For the last 20 years I have also toured THE DAVID WOOD MAGIC AND MUSIC SHOW to theatres all over the UK. This takes me back to my roots- entertaining at children's parties was how I started my career in my teens. In 2002 I was delighted to be promoted by the Magic Circle to become Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star, for my services to children's magic.

David Wood

DAVID WOOD
July 2009

 

 

Back to All About David Wood