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2005 - 2011

CatLeave me a message now...

As a result of this guestbook, over the last couple of years, I have been lucky enough to receive messages from all over the world. 

This has brightened up my life no end! 

When what is often a fairly hard grind at the desk turns into something that gives people pleasure performing and watching, the process doesn’t seem quite as lonely.

There are 401 guestbook entries in 17 pages and you are on page number 3

Comments by Kieran Mortell



Hello David...
I'm nearing the end of 3 years training in performing arts; and have found much joy in performing children's theatre. We are starting to look at plays conisder for our end of year showcase.
I have been reading lots of your books recently and may I say they are quite superb! They capture everything I look for in children's theatre. (So much so that mnay of your peices are cropping up in my dissertation).
I was writing to ask for your advice on which piece you think we should consider doing?
We are a very physical able cast of 6.
I have been looking at "The see-saw tree", "The Gingerbread man", "The ideal gnome expidtion" and "Tickle" they are all great and I just cant quite decide... I think i'm leaning towards "The See-Saw Tree"
Dear Kieran,

Thanks for your message. Very pleased that you are so interested in theatre for children and that my plays are proving useful in your written and practical work. Without knowing what facilities you have, it is hard to know which play might be most practical for you. THE SEESAW-TREE is dramatic and exciting, but you need to represent the tree imaginatively. THE GINGERBREAD MAN needs quite tricky props plus a two-level set. THE IDEAL GNOME EXPEDITION needs giant props too! TICKLE is the simplest to mount, and needs physical skills. You might also look at THE SELFISH SHELLFISH, which is quite topical, being about the problems caused by oil pollution. Two of my Dahl adaptations can be done with 6 actors - JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH and THE TWITS. But to do them simply it needs a bit of imagination! Some of the plays have songs - hopefully you are able to have musical accompaniment? Sorry I cannot make your mind up for you! But I hope you can decide on the basis of casting and practicality as well as on the basis of story appeal. Whatever you decide, I wish you and your fellow students all success with the showcase and in the future.

Best wishes,



United Kingdom


Comments by Sarah Williams



Hello Mr. Wood,
I am a music/drama teacher looking for a suitable production for my children to perform. They are ages 5-12. I also have another group of kids ages 10-14.
I found your site after many days of searching the internet. I have one interior set with wing areas but no curtain. I do have lights and sound. I need a play that is no longer than one hour for ages 5-12 with a cast of 17-24.
The other group is a cast of 10 kids ages 10-14.
Thank you for any help..
Dear Sarah,

Thanks for your message. Have you seen my Roald Dahl adaptations? JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH is done by many youth theatres. Licenced by Samuel French Inc. You might also find useful the three adaptations I have done for Puffin/Penguin Books in the States. THE BFG: A SET OF PLAYS, THE TWITS:A SET OF PLAYS and THE WITCHES:A SET OF PLAYS divide the stories into scenes, each of which makes a complete play. You can do as many as you wish - they vary in complexity. Samuel French publish my full length adaptations on which these simplified versions are based. I did the Puffin/Penguin versions specifically for school and drama groups. For your younger ones, LADY LOLLIPOP is fun. Based on a Dick King-Smith book. Let me know if you cannot find it in the States. BABE, THE SHEEP-PIG would work for you too, based on the book from which the movie BABE was taken. Licenced by Samuel French Inc. There are two musicals you might like - THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S LUNCH and DINOSAURS AND ALL THAT RUBBISH. See details on the website. I can give you more info if you need it.

All good wishes,



United States


Comments by kelly woodhead



I brought my children to see ingerbread man in kingston today, it was great, we spoke breiefly before the show and I wanted to say how much i had enjoyed your work before and it brought back lots of memories of when my parents introduced me to pantomime in Hornchurch and all the work yoiu did there at the queens. We have loved pantomimes ever since! I can still remember the songs from father time now!!!
Dear Kelly,

Thank you for your message.

Delighted you brought your children to the Rose. Thank you. And very glad you enjoyed the STORYTIME show. It has been great fun to do.

Your memories of Hornchurch took me back to those exciting days! I wrote seven, I think, Christmas shows for them. John Hole was the Artistic Director then, and he brought me to Hornchurch from the Swan Theatre, Worcester, where I had done another half a dozen for him. A writer's dream to have a regular annual commission! OLD FATHER TIME was one of my favourites, but it has rarely been seen since! Quite a few amateur companies do it, but no professional ones for some reason. The title song is on my record, THE DAVID WOOD SONGBOOK, which is still available on cassette - I must get round to releasing it on cd!!! The song was also recorded by Keith Harris and Orville! And they featured it in a tv show. At Hornchurch it was a lavish production, I remember. Old Father Time was played by Brian Hewlett, best known today for playing Neil Carter in THE ARCHERS! He was in lots of my plays over the years. He was the very first ever PIG and TURKEY in THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT WENT TO SEE... And he was an excellent Dame in some of the Hornchurch Christmas productions.

It was very kind of you to write.

All good wishes, David.


United Kingdom


Comments by Clemmie Robinson



Dear Mr Wood,
I am a postgraduate student writing a piece about the enduring work of Roald Dahl and why it has continued to be recreated on film and stage.
I understand you have adapted George's Marvellous Medicine for the stage, and I wondered if you had any opinions on why children continue to be fascinated by the work of Roald Dahl?
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
Many thanks,
Dear Clemmie,

Thanks for your message.

I am currently working on my eighth Dahl adaptation. I hugely admire his work and believe his books will endure.

Children love his storytelling skill and his often subversive attitudes towards authority and grown-ups.

They love his humour. And his occasional gruesome use of the taboo - like whizzpoppers.Or the enjoyable unpleasantness of The Twits.

They love his use of magic. Yet his fantasy is always rooted in reality. The situations are plausible in the real world - like in THE WITCHES, where extraordinary things happen in a normal hotel.

His use of language is rich and inventive. His use of scale intrigues - the giant insects in JAMES - and the growing peach. The Giants in THE BFG.

He uses classic ingredients of fairy tale, yet makes them his own - Giants and Witches, Queens ( the fairytale queen becomes the queen of England in The BFG).

He knows that children like animals, and uses them - crocodiles, insects, the Mugglewumps.

He favours a child protagonist, with whom the reader identifies. Often the child is brave enough to conquer adversity and triumph in an adult world. Thus he empowers children.

His themes are big. Sophie and the BFG stop the other Giants eating English children. The Boy and his Grandmother stop the Witches turning all the world's children into mice.

His sense of justice is in tune with children's sense of fairness. And his stories are always moral, in the sense that, satisfyingly, right wins the day. But he never preaches.

He writes brilliant baddies, whom his readers love to hate!

All good wishes with your piece!

Best, David.


United Kingdom


Comments by Francesca



Dear Mr Wood,
Thanks for the answer, he has been very nice.
Before starting the questions I wanted to congratulate for your work and the stories writes for children. I do not know where in Italy his works have been translated and I'd like to read his stories, because I have a cousin of 5 years who like to stay to hear the stories. I hope I'll find something in Italian libraries.
- How did you know that Anderson search the actor for If….?
- Which was your working relationship with Anderson?
- How did Anderson involve with the actors?
- The character of Johnny had in common some points with you?
- What is a scene that Anderson has had problems to realize?
- Which episode does you remember better on the set?
- In your opinion, what Anderson wants communicate to the public with If….?
Thank you for your attention and you continue to dream and entertain the children.
Dear Francesca,

I don't know if there are many Italian editions of my children's books. Some of them are in several languages, but I don't think Italian is one of them!

Here are some answers to your questions ...

1) When I was working in a regional theatre, performing in several plays each season, I used to write several letters each day to producers, casting directors, theatre directors etc., in the hope of attracting work in the future. One such letter went to a film casting director called Miriam Brickman, who happened to be casting IF.... (at that time the working title of the film was CRUSADERS). She invited me to audition for the film, so I came up to London for the day, met Lindsay Anderson, read some of the script with other actors, and eventually was given the role of Johnny.

2) Although I was 24 years old, I was playing a schoolboy. Lindsay Anderson treated us 'boys' with the same courtesy and consideration as he treated the older actors. We were made to feel that we were part of something special. Everybody on the film felt this, I think. There was buzz about it, even though it was a low-budget 'art' film, which was not expected to become a commercial or popular success. In the end, of course, it became something of a cult film, although I don't think it made huge sums of money!

3) Lindsay Anderson asked the three of us playing the 'rebel' boys to collect photographs from magazines and newspapers - things that appealed to us. Then he invited us to help decorate our studies (the small rooms in which the boys sleep and work). This was quite useful, I think, because it brought a little bit of our own personalities into our roles. Lindsay, rather surprisingly, never offered fulsome praise to the actors at the end of a take. He would just let everybody know that we were moving on to the next scene. At first, I was worried that I was not acting the scenes in the way he wanted, simply because he didn't reassuringly tell me this was the case after each scene! He expressed displeasure with the fact that I rarely showed pleasure, and seemed to wear a frown all the time! I explained my doubts. He became rather angry, saying, 'I took 6 months to cast this film!' This proved to be a wonderful confidence-booster! I now knew that if he was NOT happy with something, he would always say so, and that, because he had cast the film so carefully, I was the person he wanted for Johnny, and he was happy with what I was doing.

4) I don't know exactly why Lindsay thought I was right for the role of Johnny, but I did feel that he was quite a sensitive character, which I felt reflected myself! Also, I had never been interested in, or any good at, sport, and I felt that Johnny was the same. But I have never been a rebel in real life. Having said that, I do think that there are situations in school life that make individuals feel a huge sense of injustice, which is a very powerful emotion when you are young. When I was 12 years old, I was sent to a boarding school, which I did not enjoy at all. I was never bullied or anything like that, but I missed a lot of the activities I had begun at home, such as doing magic shows at children's birthday parties! I became absolutely determined to leave the school, and was strong enough to make my feelings known to my parents, who were eventually forced into finding another school nearer home, which I could attend without boarding. I feel that Johnny might well have done something similar.

5) The day before we filmed the scene in which the three of us are drinking vodka and rather heartlessly discussing the most horrible way to die, Malcolm McDowell and I agreed that the scene was very strange, heartless, and difficult to play. We told Lindsay, who invited us to come to work early and to improvise around the scene. All three of us worked with him early next morning, playing around with the scene until we felt we could make it work. He then encouraged us to drink quite a lot of whisky before we filmed the scene! What was remarkable to me, was that it was not until I saw the finished film, many months later, that I realised we actually played that scene word for word as it had been written! Lindsay had brilliantly brought us round to doing it exactly as he had wanted in the first place - yet we were unaware of this!

6) I was finding it very difficult understanding how to play the scene in which I emerge, wearing a gas mask, through a trap door from under the stage, lifting out a stuffed alligator and then removing it to a bonfire. I hadn't realised that this was part of the punishment administered by the Headmaster for shooting the chaplain! In rehearsal, I behaved oddly as I emerged through the trap door, looking both ways to check that nobody was looking, as though I was doing something illegal! Lindsay asked me what on earth I was doing. I told him. 'You don't understand' he said. Then he came out with a wonderful piece of advice, one that I have never forgotten, and often made use of ... He said, 'the more exotic the idea, the more matter-of-factly we play it'. Thinking about this, I successfully played the scene in only one take. I emerged from under the stage in my gas mask, dragged the alligator out to the fire, all a very matter-of-fact way, as though I did that sort of thing every day of my life! That, it seems, is what made the scene interesting.

7) Lindsay Anderson has written several times about what he was trying to communicate to the public in IF.... I have nothing to add, except that I believe the public school setting was a metaphor for English society, with all its quirky hierarchical anomalies. He chose a 'public school' as the setting, because it was something he knew about and remembered well from his own childhood, both the positive and the negative aspects. It was a world he understood and could therefore make fun of, as well as criticise. And it is worth noticing that in spite of the anarchical theme, that leads to violence, real or imaginary, Lindsay displays often a sense of notstalgia for the institution - many images of the buildings, both exterior and interior, have a lyrical beauty and calmness, which contrasts cleverly with what goes on inside!

All good wishes.





Comments by Charlie Wood



I've just done fantastic mr fox as a play with Victory Land Thertre School and i want to know what plotter of cabbage patch corner is about because we are doing the play at easter next year. So please contact back Thank You
Dear Charlie,

Thanks for your message.

Good to hear you have been in FANTASTIC MR FOX. Hope you had a good time. It's a really good story.

I wrote THE PLOTTERS OF CABBAGE PATCH CORNER a long time ago! It was the first play I wrote that wasn't adapted from someone else's book or story. You can read about it on the website in the PLAY section. It's about insects who live in a garden. The pretty ones and the ugly ones argue, because The Big Ones (the human beings who own the garden) squirt the uglies with anti-insect spray, which the uglies think is unfair. In the very first production, the Greenfly was played by Alison Steadman, who is now a famous actress. In the second production, the Ladybird was played by Julia McKenzie, who now plays Miss Marple on the television!

Hope you enjoy being in PLOTTERS. And best wishes to everyone in your theatre group.

Good luck, David.


United Kingdom


Comments by Helen Goodman



Dear Mr Wood,
We are an international school based in Shanghai, China and are currently rehearsing a version of your piece, Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish with our Primary school students. The production will encompass 198 pupils (from nursery to Year 6) and will be the first performance to take place in our new theatre!
I understand that there is a literary festival in Shanghai around this time and as such wondered if you might be in Asia? I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to our show which will be taking place on Monday 13th December at 6pm.
We would be delighted to welcome you to our school if it is at all convenient. Here is the link to our website, where you can find information about our performing arts department and recent theatrical projects: http://www.srisrego.com/web2/index.php
Best wishes,
Helen Goodman
(Drama Teacher)

Dear Helen,

Many thanks for your message. DINOSAURS AND ALL THAT RUBBISH is a favourite of mine, so I am really pleased to hear you are presenting it at the school. And it's great that you have such a large cast! That is exactly how it was envisaged when it was commissioned by Howells School in Denbigh.

How I would like to be there on December 13th, but it's impossible, alas. I am presenting my DAVID WOOD'S STORYTIME performance at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, for fifteen performances, opening on December 7th.

Please let me know how the performance goes. Send me some photos, please! Maybe we could post them on the website. I would love to encourage other schools to present DINOSAURS.

And maybe I could visit your school one day - I much enjoy my school visits - see the info on the website! I have worked in the British schools in Brussels and Paris, as well as in schools in the United States, but never so far away as Shanghai!

Please give my best wishes and send lots of luck to everybody involved in DINOSAURS. And the same, of course, to you!





Comments by John Potter



Dear Mr Wood,
I had a look on Samuel French's website about show rights for 'George's Marvellous Medicine' but had no luck! Would you be able to tell me if this production is being put on in the summer months (summer holidays) next year 2011? If not where can I look about getting the rights to put the production on?
Many Thanks
John Potter
Dear John,

Thanks for your message.

GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE will be published by Samuel French next month. Amateur rights are controlled by them, but they won't release them for a while - the Birmingham Stage Company production is touring till next June, I think.

The professional rights are handled by Tom Erhardt at Casarotto Ramsay Ltd. tom@casarotto.co.uk

Paul Taylor will look after the amateur rights. paul@samuelfrench-london.co.uk

Depending what kind of production you are thinking of, it is worth contacting them.

All good wishes,



United Kingdom


Comments by Francesca



Dear Mr. Wood,
I wanted to congratulate for his work and for his performance in If....
I am a student of Rome which I preparing the thesis on Lindsay Anderson for University.
I wanted to ask if I have some questions for my thesis about the film and Andrson.
I hope you can devote a few minutes.
Thank you for your attention.
Dear Francesca,

Thank you for your message.

Delighted to hear that you are interested in IF.... Although we made the film more than 40 years ago, there seems to be a great amount of interest in it and, of course, in the work of Lindsay Anderson. Last year I represented the film at a Film Festival on the island of Jersey. And several students have asked me questions about the filming.

I would be happy to answer your questions. Please send them to me via the website.

All good wishes.





Comments by iris ray



Hi David,
We are in the middle of our season of Fantastic Mr. Fox in Mullumbimby in N.S.W Australia.
We are having a ball! I will send you some photos when the whirlwind dies down.
Thank-you for creating this awesome play.
Byron Bay Theatre Co Producer/Assist Director

Dear Iris,

Thank you for your message.

Delighted to hear that FANTASTIC MR FOX is going down well down under!

When I directed the play myself, for the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, it was a real pleasure. The audiences seemed to love 'hating' the Farmers, and supporting the brilliantly functional Fox family!

Please send my very best wishes to everybody involved in your production.

All good wishes.



United Kingdom


Comments by Sharon Ryal



Hi David, I worked for you a long time ago on both tours of Save the Human and wondered what happened to Whirligig (a fabulous company with a great bunch of people working together) and if you have any new childrens shows going out next year as there must be lots of new adaptations and ideas about at the moment. Also if you do and you need a Wardrobe Mistress, give me a call!!
Dear Sharon,

Thank you for your message.

Good to hear from you! SAVE THE HUMAN has many happy memories for me, even though the show didn't go on to become popular amongst amateur companies and youth groups, as I had hoped. But the play is still very alive - the Deaf Theatre in New York are doing a production any minute now!

Yes, Whirligig was a lovely company for 25 years, and many splendid people worked for us, including your good self!

There are two new shows going out next year, but I haven't announced them on the website yet! One of them is GOODNIGHT MISTER TOM, which opens its tour at Chichester in February. The other is a dance adaptation of SHAUN THE SHEEP, which will be touring through most of 2011.

I will certainly bear you in mind if we need a Wardrobe Mistress!

All good wishes.



United Kingdom


Comments by Annie Wood



Aloha David from Hawaii!
How are you? Of course I am working with kids over here and they are soooo talented... what show would you recommend for 60 fabulous singers aged 10 - 16yrs..
love Annie
Dear Annie,

Lovely to hear from you! I meant to send you an e-mail after having seen your happy face on the screen at Polka, when they brilliantly managed to organise the link up between Wimbledon and Hawaii!

Delighted that you are doing things! Having said that, I always knew you would start working for and with young people as soon as you possibly could!

Now, to recommendations!

You probably know HONK! By my friends Styles and Drewe. This version of THE UGLY DUCKLING has become popular all over the place, particularly in the United States. It might be ideal for you. I quite like their other show JUST SO, based on Kipling, but that may not have as much appeal to your young performers.

Of my own shows, there are two which might be appropriate. First, THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S LUNCH, which I wrote for the Oxford Playhouse. We had two professional actors, along with about 100 children, who acted, sang in a choir, narrated, did puppetry etc. etc. The show is published by Weinbergers, and comes complete with a CD on which the music is both sung, to give people the idea, and also written as accompaniment.

The second idea is DINOSAURS AND ALL THAT RUBBISH, which I wrote for a school in Wales. They used the whole school - quite young ones up to the age of 17 or 18. It is based on Michael Foreman's lovely book, which is a kind of fable about a man who sees the moon and wants it. The theme, I suppose, is conservation of the planet, done in a delightful way. The music for my adaptation was written by my long-term associate, Peter Pontzen, and the main theme tune THE EARTH BELONGS TO EVERYONE, was taken up as an anthem for several years by Friends of the Earth. DINOSAURS is published by Samuel French Ltd. I think, in fact, the New York office of Samuel French Inc. will have copies. You could contact Kenneth Dingledine there at kdingledine@samuelfrench.com.

Let me know if you want any more information, or if you would like me to organise copies to be sent. Both these shows run under an hour, which is more practical, I feel, than trying to do an epic with an interval!

Things are still very busy here, as you may have seen from the website. And I have two new shows coming up next year, details of which will appear soon.

Meanwhile, it was lovely to hear from you.

All good wishes to you and the family.

With love,



United States


Comments by Christopher Howell



Hello David,
I stumbled across you online just now and thought I'd drop a quick 'thanks' for your book "Theatre for Children". Paul Kieve suggested it to me, and it played a big part in increasing my own understanding about what works in my own children's act (and more importantly, why!), as well as looking at the act in new ways so to always be able to improve it. Really enjoyed it! Thank you!
Best regards,
Christopher Howell

Dear Christopher,
Thank you for your message. So pleased that my THEATRE FOR CHILDREN book proved helpful. Paul has mentioned it to lots of people, I'm happy to say!
Do hope we meet one day. Meanwhile, all good wishes and good luck for the future of your children's act.


United Kingdom


Comments by David Lambert



Dear David, We met very briefly a few years ago at teh Theatre Royal Norwich (I was introduced by Roger Richardson who was working here then). I direct the Youth Theatre here, and we put on a large-scale summer musical every year, with a huge cast and choruses. I have written the last ten, but I am at my wits' end as to what to write for 2011. I remembered your brilliant play put on at Buckingham Palace "The Queen's Handbag" and wondered whether it might adapt to a (slightly simpler) stage version. Is there a script, and would you be interested in such a project? Very best wishes, David Lambert
Dear David,

Thanks for your message. Indeed I do remember meeting you and hearing about your mammoth productions!

THE QUEEN'S HANDBAG is a non-starter, I'm afraid. The premise was that I could use all the iconic British children's literature characters and bring them together as a one-off celebration for the Queen's 80th. Many of the characters were, and are, in copyright. There were many battles to get permission to use them, in spite of the uniqueness of the occasion. The difficulties continued - a dvd in aid of charity couldn't be produced, and a book version was eventually vetoed! There can be no further exploitation.

Have you looked at my adaptation of THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S LUNCH? Published by Weinbergers, it was originally performed by 150 children and two professional actors at the Oxford Playhouse. Big choir, narrators, puppeteers, dancers etc etc. Ask Weinbergers for a copy.

Or DINOSAURS AND ALL THAT RUBBISH, published by Samuel French - this was commissioned by a school, who performed it with ALL the pupils taking part!

Both are proper musicals, not too long, and reasonably straightforward to stage.

Chichester Festival Theatre's Youth Theatre did a great version of my JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH adaptation, with a huge cast and music by Jason Carr. I'm sure Dale Rooks would tell you more if you gave her a ring.

A way-out idea is OLD FATHER TIME, a musical I wrote years ago for the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. This could be done with a very large cast. I'd love to see it done by young people! Published by Samuel French.

I do hope you solve your problem soon!

All good wishes,

Dear David,
Thank you so much for your speedy reply. Such a shame about THE QUEENS HANDBAG - I did enjoy it so much. But of course I can imagine what a nightmare permissions must have been.
I will look at the other shows you mention, and thank you again for your time and advice.
Very best wishes,


United Kingdom


Comments by shahab shamshirsaz



Dear David,
This is Shahab shamshirsaz, illustrator of your Cinderella! very happy to find your website and see your works. Just wanted to say hello and that I am very honored to have a part in one your book!
Thank you very much
Very best wishes
Dear Shahab,

Delighted to receive your message. I have been meaning to track you down for some time! It is strange working on a book with a collaborator one has never met! I must admit I had thought that the publishers would bring us together at some point. But maybe, because you live and work abroad, this has never been a practical proposition!

Your illustrations for CINDERELLA are splendidly quirky, stylish and 'different'. They are also, of course, great fun, and compliment the text extremely cleverly.

Maybe we will meet one day!

In the meantime, let's hope that our book proves popular!

All good wishes.





Comments by Jenna Stevenson



Hi david
I am going to direct The Gingerbread Man in the new year and I’m so excited about this. What a fantastic play as well as the set and costumes. It is already causing such a buzz. I was just wanting to query if we have to use the songs that are included. I bought the musical score and although I really liked the songs I was wondering if we’d be able to write our own.

Dear Jenna,

Thanks for your message.

Very pleased to hear that you are directing THE GINGERBREAD MAN next year. This play is very nearly 35 years old, but The Gingerbread Man always seems to come up fresh and bouncy, no matter how old he gets!

Sorry, but you cannot write your own songs. Your licence to present the play should make it clear that you cannot make changes to the published script and score.

All good wishes for a successful production.

If you want to hear the songs sung, there is a commercial recording, on which Bernard Cribbins tells the story and the original Old Vic cast sing the songs. At the moment this is only available on cassette. However, you might be able to hear the songs on my website.

All good wishes.



United Kingdom


Comments by Tim



hi david
i am a big fan of your work,particularly if....
i was just wondering if you were supposed to be involved in o lucky man,you and david warrick.and if not how come?
all good wishes.
Dear Tim,

Thanks for your message. I don't know why Richard Warwick wasn't featured in O LUCKY MAN. But I can tell you that my agent received an availability check for me to be in the film. I said that I would make sure I was available, even if it meant buying myself out of another contract. Working with Lindsay Anderson was so special that nothing would have made me miss a second opportunity.

Sadly, they never came back with a positive offer and consequently I wasn't in the film!

That's show biz....

Best wishes,



United Kingdom


Comments by Christopher Barlow



Dear David,
I just wanted to write and tell you how much I have enjoyed the last few months. I have been playing Earthworm in the Illyria tour of James and the Giant Peach and I have had such fun playing him in your adaption.
I just thought You might like to know from one whose been on the road with the show that it was an astounding success, the audiences (especially the children) were remarkable. They were so active and responsive...completely joyous. At times the kids would get so involved they came close to flooding the stage, just to be near the characters. The outdoors setting of this production worked so well and really gave the audience freedom to stand up and dance and chase a giant peach around the field.
It’s been terrific, the children were invited to sign a book at the end of each show and leave comments, which they did in droves. Their comments are both kind and hilarious.
It’s been a wonderful experience.
Thank you.
Chris Barlow

Dear Chris,

Thank you so much for your lovely message. I was absolutely delighted when Olly said he wanted to tour JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH with his splendid company, Illyria. Olly appeared, quite a few years ago now, in my production of THE BFG, and we have kept in touch ever since.

Your descriptions of the enjoyment engendered by the production, for both audience and cast, are very rewarding.

I think this production is the first open air JAMES, which makes it even more special. My great regret is that I didn't manage to see it. I was in Cornwall when you were performing in Penzance, but the touring production of another of my Dahl adaptations, GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE, was at the Hall for Cornwall on the same day, and I had promised the producers that I would see it!

Never mind, it is enough to know that you had, in your words, 'a wonderful experience'.

Olly is hoping to tour another of my Dahl adaptations next year or the year after. I will certainly make sure I see that one!

All good wishes.




United Kingdom


Comments by Gwyneth Savage



Hi David, Good luck with Storytime, I'm sure you will enjoy yourself and all the little faces will shine back at you.
Some years ago we "talked" about your adaptation of "Goodnight Mr. Tom" which you had completed but were gazumped by the musical version. I have been watching the press and have seen no mention of it's production. Here, in Cumbria, The Playgoers in Workington still try to present a varied selection of non-musical plays every season. For a long time I have wanted to present "Goodnight Mr. Tom" and am wondering what the current situation is. I appreciate that it hasn't been published, but if it is no longer in conflict with the musical version is there even the slightest chance that the manuscript could be made available for us to include it in our next season. Last time we were in contact you suggested it may be possible in the future. It is the future! I am as keen as I ever was. You never know, we may find ourselves with a L.T.G. first and a sellout success!
Dear Gwyneth,

Many thanks for your message. It was good to hear from you again. I certainly remember our previous correspondence, and, indeed, only a year or so ago, I visited your Playgoers website! I think it was by doing this, interested to find out more about your company, that I discovered you had been unwell. I do hope you are now back to full strength. You certainly appear to be as determined as ever!

Just for the record, can I explain that when we last corresponded, I had not actually written an adaptation of GOODNIGHT MISTER TOM. For many years I had indeed wanted to create a play version, but the musical version proved an obstacle. It was written by Michelle Magorian herself. Michelle is, as you know, the author of GOODNIGHT MISTER TOM. I have known her for many years. I did the first television adaptation of one of her other books, BACK HOME, which featured Hayley Mills, 20 years ago. Michelle asked if I would act as a kind of mentor on the musical version, which I did with pleasure. It was quite clear that another non-musical version was not something that she or her agents were interested in at that time. The musical, as you probably know, was subsequently published by Weinbergers, and has received a number of professional and amateur productions.

However, I think it is fair to say that the musical never took off in the way Michelle and Weinbergers had hoped. As the years went by, I regularly contacted her agent to see if I could be given permission to create a play version. I pointed out that there was a difference between the stage play rights and the stage musical rights! Eventually, after a good many years, Michelle's agent approached me, to see if I was still interested in writing a play version. It had been decided that Michelle and her agents would like me to have a go, and to try to achieve a professional production.

Now to the exciting news! I have indeed completed the play, and it is now in pre-production. It will open at the Chichester Festival Theatre in February, and then tour to about 12 regional theatres. The Arts Council are supporting the production.

I have not yet mentioned it on my website, because I want to be able to give full details of the production, rather than just make a simple announcement. But if you look on the Chichester Festival Theatre website, you will find some basic details.

The company promoting the tour is called Fiery Angel. Edward Snape is the producer. He currently has THE 39 STEPS running in the West End.

Samuel French have already expressed interest in publishing the play and taking the amateur rights.

I would be delighted if your Playgoers were to present the play, maybe the amateur premiere, but, as I am sure you will realise, it is very unlikely that permission would be granted until after the tour finishes in the middle of next year. But it might well be worth your while contacting Samuel French at this early stage. Having said that, I am well aware of the fact that it is not 'early' for you! You have - like me - wanted to do this story on stage for a very long time!

Paul Taylor is the man at Samuel French who might help you. I will forward him a copy of this message.

Meanwhile, my very best wishes to you and all your Playgoers colleagues, and thank you so much for your patience and continued interest in GOODNIGHT MISTER TOM.

All the best.



United Kingdom


Comments by James Rushman



Hello David,
I was wondering if there was anyway i can obtain a Cd of Rock Nativity nowhere seems to have a copy so i would be grateful if you have one that i can buy from you, look forward to hearing from you
James Rushman
Dear James,

Thank you very much for your enquiry.

ROCK NATIVITY has never been released commercially as a CD. This has always been a source of disappointment for Tony Hatch and myself, because the show is still popular, particularly amongst colleges and schools, both here and in the United States.

I can't tell from your message whether you are connected to a group that might want to perform the musical, but you might be interested to know that some years ago Weinbergers, who publish ROCK NATIVITY, decided to commission a CD recording, produced by Tony Hatch. This recording was made as a demo, which companies interested to produce the show could be sent, to get an idea of the songs. The National Youth Music Theatre provided an excellent young cast, many of whom have turned professional in the years since, and have featured in first class productions of other shows. They include Michael Jibson, Sheridan Smith and Akiya Henry.

Weinbergers still have copies of this CD, and if you were to contact them, they might well be willing to send you a copy. Might I suggest you check out the Weinbergers website, www.josef-weinberger.com, and contact them by e-mail or by telephone. I'm sure they will be helpful.

All good wishes.




United Kingdom


Comments by Laura



Hi David,
I've just come across your website and was over the moon to see a bit of the old man of lochnagar musical! My sisters and I loved this when we were younger - we used to have a cassette tape that we listened to in the car all the time! Unfortunately, it has long since disappeared and all we have is bad singing of the songs to remember it by! I just wondered if it was available to buy any where?
Many thanks,
Dear Laura,

Many thanks for your message. I was delighted to hear that you and your sisters enjoyed THE OLD MAN OF LOCHNAGAR musical. We had a lot of fun working on this production, which I adapted and directed nearly 25 years ago! The show got wonderful reviews. Iain Lauchlan, who played The Old Man, later created the very popular TWEENIES, and still works mainly in television. After the tour, presented by Whirligig Theatre, we played a West End season at the Albery Theatre, and then the production was filmed for Channel 4. My greatest regret was that Prince Charles never saw the show - unless he was crouching in a box, having been smuggled in by security!

Unfortunately the cassette recording you listened to in the car is no longer available, but I am told that First Night Records are to make it available as a download from iTunes, via the website www.firstnightrecords.com. It should have been available before, but due to an oversight - and now your message - moves are afoot ...!

All good wishes.



United Kingdom


Comments by Nick Atkinson



Dear David,
I’ve just started a new job working for a Children’s theatre company in Hong Kong and I’m delighted to tell you that Samuel French has just approved the rights for my first production to be your wonderful adaptation of The BFG. I was wondering if you knew where we have to apply to get the Quentin Blake image from the cover of your play? It would really excite the children if we could use the image on our poster and make them feel that they were involved in something really special.
Kind Regards,

Dear Nick,

Delighted to hear that you are working in Hong Kong, and even more delighted that you will be doing THE BFG. Good luck with it! Having directed it myself three times, I am still extremely fond of it!

To use the Quentin Blake image, you need to contact Emma at apw@apwatt.co.uk. She is part of the AP Watt agency. It might be an idea to copy your e-mail to Christine Glover. She is at cglover@apwatt.co.uk.

Hopefully they will give you the necessary permission, but it is only fair to tell you that you will have to pay something for the privilege!

All good wishes.




Hong Kong


Comments by Samantha



Hey! =D
I was walking homee from last night and I vaugly remembered this song from when I was younger. Took me ages to work it it was from Rock Nativity! If course googled left me here. We did a verson in primary school when I was younger, we are talking about twelve years ago now...aaah I feel old thinking about that!
Anyway, yes twelve years later those songs are still in my head XD must be catchy then! ITs the only play in school I ever got a part in so thank you very much =D
Hope you're having a good day!

Dear Sammie,

Really pleased you remember the songs from ROCK NATIVITY. The very catchy tunes are by Tony Hatch, who wrote hugely popular songs like DOWNTOWN. I wrote the words. The musical was first performed in the seventies. The bass guitar was played by a young teacher called Gordon Sumner, who later changed his name to.......Sting! ROCK NATIVITY is still popular in the UK and the US, often performed by schools and musical groups.

You can hear the songs on my website in SIGHTS AND SOUNDS.

All good wishes,


United Kingdom


Comments by Clare Doane



Dear David, I recently took my 7 & 5 year old boys to see "Guess how much I love you" at Hastings White Rock theatre, on a rainy day whilst here on holiday. We all loved it. We actually live in Spain, near Barcelona ...and the English theatre for children, is severely lacking-and level of English teaching on the whole dreadful. Anyway, I am no longer teaching English but as a mother of two english boys, I am keen to develop their acting/musical skills (whilst helping to teach other children some great vocabulary). My eldest son is without doubt meant to be on the stage, and loves singing & dance. I think with the small cast, it could be a perfect production for him (and some carefully selected friends)& willing participants from the art/music departments of the school to pull off. Please let me know how I might be able to get hold of a copy of the wonderful script, and music. A CD of the songs, would be a fantastic starting point too (not on sale at the theatre...I asked).
I hope you can help me with this, and ofcourse I would be delighted for you to come & see the production when it happens! Kind regards Clare
Dear Clare,

Many thanks for your message.

I was delighted to hear that your sons enjoyed GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, which has been a real pleasure to adapt and direct.

The play has not been published, and as yet there is no commercial recording of the songs available, as you discovered at the theatre. However, we hope to record the songs soon.

In the circumstances, I would be happy to let you see the script of the play, on the understanding, of course, that if you were to present a performance, you would need permission. Such permission is only partly mine to give. Sam McBratney, who wrote the book, and his representatives would have to be consulted.

When, hopefully, we have a CD of the songs, I will let you know.

All good wishes.





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