ARCHIVE News for 2009
News Item SFTGB16- November 2009
THE GO-BETWEEN showcases.
Composer Richard Taylor and I were delighted with the reaction to the 5 showcase performances of our musical based on L P Hartley's wonderful novel, THE GO-BETWEEN, which took place in early November at the Trafalgar Studios in London's West End.
This is my first venture into writing for grown-ups for many, many years! I was delighted when Richard kindly invited me to work with him on it, because I have always loved the novel and the splendid Joseph Losey film version. Roger Haines, who directed (twice) memorable productions of my adaptation of TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN at the Library Theatre, Manchester, directed a splendid cast for THE GO-BETWEEN. Huge thanks to all of them - Scarlett Strallen, Andrew C. Wadsworth, Nicola Sloane, Dermot McLaughlin, Hannah Spicer, Thomas Eyre, Christian Edwards, Alistair Natkiel, Stephen Carlile and the two young actors, Ethan Beer and Sam Veck. Roger did a great job, as did our brilliant musical director, Alan Williams, who is currently wielding the baton for SISTER ACT at the London Palladium. A big thankyou, too, to Andy and Wendy Barnes of Perfect Pitch, the excellent organisation that promotes and fosters new musicals, who organised the showcases.
Full details of the organisation are on the PERFECT PITCH website.
News Item TWF16 - November 2009
"THE WORD FESTIVAL" at POLKA THEATRE / J M BARRIE AWARD
On Saturday, October 10th, 2009, on behalf of Action for Children's Arts, I was delighted to present the annual J M Barrie Award ceremony, which took place as part of THE WORD FESTIVAL at Polka Theatre.
This year's recipient of the award, recognising a lifetime's achievement in the field of children's arts, was the one and only Roger McGough.
He was performing at the Festival, which proved to be the perfect place to honour him. The award was presented by nine year old Yusuf Steel, who recently won a prestigious poetry-writing prize.
For the full report,
see the ACA website...
News Item TADO7 - February2010
TALKING ABOUT DAHL IN OXFORD
On February 19th, 2010 at 5.00 pm, I will be giving my talk THE UTTERLY INVENTIVE WORLD OF ROALD DAHL at the Oxford Playhouse.
In this event, aimed at children and adults, I look at the work of Roald Dahl, the ingredients of his wonderful stories, and the challenges faced when adapting his books for the stage. Now that I have been privileged enough to adapt seven of Dahl's classic children's stories, I feel I have enough material for such a talk. Hopefully, I might get invited to repeat it elsewhere.
It was Polka Theatre's 'The Word Festival' that gave me the first opportunity to present this talk. I am very grateful to them for inviting me to try it out there. Happily, we got a good-sized audience of both adults and children, and the reaction was very positive.
News Item MOT7 - February2010
'THE MAGIC OF THEATRE'
This is the title of the new lecture I am preparing to give at The Magic Circle on February 22nd at 7.30 pm. Scott Penrose, the Vice President of The Magic Circle asked me last year if I had any ideas for a new lecture. The fact that I had only recently worked with Scott, who was the Magical Adviser on THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA, made me think that a lecture about the use of magic in my theatre productions might be a suitable topic.
The lecture will include dvd clips from MEG AND MOG SHOW, THE WITCHES, SPOT'S BIRTHDAY PARTY and THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA, featuring the ideas and assistance of the FAB FOUR - the four excellent Magical Advisers with whom I have been lucky enough to work - George Kovari, Paul Kieve, Geoffrey Durham and Scott Penrose.
There will also be clips from some of the television shows with which I have been associated such as JIM'LL FIX IT and TRICKY BUSINESS.
The main thrust of the lecture is to point out that 'story' is all-important in our lives, and in theatre. And creating a magical effect that helps tell the story is often more satisfying than performing a magic trick just for its own sake. The premise is arguable! But I hope to present a convincing case.
News Item TADO7 - February2010
'MAGIC AND MUSIC' RETURNS!!!
It is a while since Peter Pontzen, my long-serving and long-suffering accompanist, and I have performed THE DAVID WOOD MAGIC AND MUSIC SHOW. Hopefully we won't be too rusty when we visit the delightful Watermill Theatre, Newbury on Saturday February 27th. The performance begins at 11.00 am.
We last played the Watermill
many moons ago. I remember it being a very happy experience, in an ideal setting. Hopefully there will be some more dates for the show later this year.
News Item DPFC05- September 2009
DANNY: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN published!
The latest in the Roald Dahl: Plays for Children series was published by Puffin in September 2009.
This is my full-length adaptation of DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD re-adapted into short plays for children to read or perform.
Already available in this format, from Puffin Books, are THE BFG, THE WITCHES and THE TWITS.
News Item KSL21- July 2009
KIDS WEEK LAUNCH ON JULY 14th, 2009
I was delighted to be involved with the launch of KIDS WEEK.
This is the Society of London Theatre promotion, whereby children can come free to many West End shows.
The launch involved three shows for small children, and took place at the Duchess Theatre.
I was asked to host the event, linking from the performance of WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT to an excerpt from THE GRUFFALO, and then to an excerpt from TIGER. It was a very happy occasion, and apparently sales on the first day broke all records! Hooray!
News Item BFGITV09- June 2009
WHAT IS YOU FAVOURITE CHILDREN'S STORY?
A rather sad consequence of the current financial crisis is that many local newspapers are cutting back on staff.
First to go (typical) are often the arts reporters. To help promote THE BFG tour, I was asked to answer some representative questions, which could be sent to the newspapers who had nobody suitable to interview me.
The questions are about the enduring magic and appeal of Dahl, the major challenges I faced in translating THE BFG to the stage, the key ingredients needed to keep children entertained and my favourite children's story (a question I rather chickened out of ...).
Please click here if you would like to read my answers.
News Item CRB02- June 2009
ENJOYING THE SUMMER WITH MOLE
Here is delightful evidence that MOLE'S SUMMER STORY, the book I created with Richard Fowler, can still engross its audience! Very reassuring ...
Mole is on holiday at the seaside. He is about to join his friends on a boat trip, when his hat blows away!
Mole can be slid through the slot in each picture: under deck chairs, through ice-cream stalls and even into a Punch and Judy show, to help Mole find his big spotty sun-hat.
This was the second book in the Mole series, following the very successful BEDTIME STORY.
News Item BFG19 - November 2009
THE BFG BACK ON THE ROAD
November 2009 saw the last week of Edward Snape's (for FieryAngel) tour of my adaptation of Dahl's THE BFG. Liverpool Playhouse were kind enough to comment that this production was the best production for children they had seen for many a long year.
My thanks to Edward, in association with the Theatre Royal, Northampton, for presenting this brand new production, directed by Phil Clark. Since April it has been delighting children and adults all over the UK. The production starred, yet again, the actor who has become widely regarded as THE definitive BFG, Anthony Pedley.
He created the role nearly 20 years ago, and has played it in all four UK tours and three West End showings, clocking up nearly 2,000 performances! Thanks to him, and to the bright young cast of actor/musicians, who delivered an exciting production that was widely praised.
Here are some reviews of the production.
Published Wednesday 18 March 2009 at 11:30 by Caroline Morris
This production of The BFG sees the words on the page electrifyingly brought to life on the stage, totally captivating the audience.
The longer, darker, more sinister first act is perhaps a little drawn out but is a couple of steps back from frightening the youngest members of the audience with the giants masks.
There is a wonderful display of bonding and trust between young Sophie, played by Becky John, and the BFG (John Pedley).
Our ensemble of nasty giants played by the remainder of the cast, get on with gory giant business and menacing activities. The BFG is thoroughly entertaining with his jumbly words - how useful they could be in the big world outside.
Without doubt, the second shorter act is much punchier, faster moving and more entertaining.
Here we encounter a charismatic performance of the Queen from Heather Phoenix, complete with corgi, a comic strip Queen of Sweden from Naomi Lee Schulke and the epitome of military men from Darrell Brockis as head of the army and Adam Baxter as head of the air force.
There is no better way to sum up this production than the words of one little boy leaving the theatre who said, “That was wicked.”
From the Blackpool Gazette
Wondrous world of dahl comes alive
Published Date: 01 April 2009
By Robin Duke
The wit, wonder and wickedness of Roald Dahl came magically to life in this hugely imaginative stage version of the classic story of a gentle giant fighting to save children from his evil compatriots.
Funny…enchanting…scary… delightful…are just a few words that spring to mind to describe the Fiery Light company’s utterly enjoyable production of this children’s tale.
The BFG was veteran actor Anthony Pedley, who has played the role more than 1,400 times in various versions – and it showed. He was totally at ease in the giant’s skin and with Dahl’s wondrous wordplay, transporting us seamlessly into his larger-than-life world.
His opposite number, Becky John as Sophie, was also excellent with a real ‘little girl’ persona that kept us captivated, as well as cleverly manipulating the puppet version of herself to give gigantic scale.
The use of puppets, and in Buckingham Place of a giant BFG working model, was just one indication of the imagination that has gone into this production.
Fiercely frightening masks and eye-catching backdrops helped to create moods which were enhanced by a superb musical accompaniment from cast members, who used a variety of instruments to add menace one moment, enchantment the next and even plaintive emotion in the BFG’s touching farewell.
The giants, of course, were splendid, managing to sound genuinely monstrous, as was Heather Phoenix who shone as a witty Queen of England with just the right imperious edge in her voice.
A memorable production – just a shame the theatre wasn’t just that bit fuller.
It runs until Saturday.
From the Edinburgh Evening News
The BFG, King's Theatre
Published Date: 09 April 2009
By Annabel Cooper
The BFG ****
SCHOOL'S out (again) and the little ones are nagging that they are bored.
For what better way to keep them happy (and alive) than letting Roald Dahl, the grand master of storytelling, loose on their imaginations for an afternoon.
Dahl's tale of tiddler-gobbling giants and Snozcumber-scented whiz-pops (you better learn fast what these are) has been brilliantly transformed for theatre goers. What is most impressive about this adaptation, playing at the King's until Friday, is that it does what eludes many stage and screen renditions, and truly captures the imagination of the reader.
By placing Dahl's book within the play, his tongue-twisting tall tale remains central to the on-stage adaptation and ensures the author's magic is not lost.
You could pray that they are gobbled up by flesh-eating giants with a penchant for "tasty little tiddlers". Or you could place them in the capable and somewhat more benign hands of the Big Friendly Giant.
Narrator Sophie, against the backdrop of a magically murky stage, reads beautifully from the original BFG so that, settling back into their stalls, the audience almost feels like they themselves are sneakily reading the book under the covers by torchlight.
The magic of a child's imagination is what epitomised Dahl's stories and this is dished out in giant-sized portions here. The audience is enveloped in a dreamy, all-sensory experience as the gloomy lighting and eerily undulating score trick and tickle them on to the pages of the classic tale.
This is back-to-basics entertainment, where puppetry, atmosphere and tricks of perspective make a welcome diversion from the spoon-fed, often patronising nature of modern kid's entertainment – and one can't help thinking that Dahl himself would have deplored a production filled by special effects and computer- generated imagery.
As with all of Dahl's stories, there are the important moral lessons to be learned, but they are not forced. The bullies get their comeuppance, the outcasts find their place in the world, but in the end it's all about the queen getting a face full of farts. Lyrical and physical silliness, naughty jokes and faux pas are lapped up by the audience – children and grown-ups alike.
The BFG, aka RADA-trained Anthony Pedley, has played the title role nearly 1500 times, and somehow you couldn't imagine anyone else doing it.
A gangly, greying gentle giant in his own right, Pedley has mastered the upside-down, front-to-back giant language impressively and the only thing he seems to be lacking is the over-sized, flapping ears of the original book creation.
This magical play captures the essence of the story fantastically and everyone's favourite giant is sure to engage the imagination of even the most weary little one, perhaps making kids entertainment this Easter a little less of a gargantuan undertaking.
News Item TTCTOR - May 2009
HERE ARE ANOTHER COUPLE OF NICE REVIEWS FOR
THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA
The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Darlington Theatre
By Julia Breen
21st November 2008
JUDITH Kerr, the author of the Meg and Mog books, published The Tiger Who Came to Tea 40 years ago – and it is still a much-loved book for young children.
Adapting such a classic for the stage is a tall order, but David Wood remains true to the original while transforming what is actually a very flat plot – a tiger turning up unannounced for tea and devouring everything scrap of food in the house – into a lively stage show. Songs, dances and audience participation kept youngsters enthralled for the 55-minute production.
An audience of toddlers and young schoolchildren are probably the harshest critics, but they lapped up the story and the excitement reached fever pitch when the huge furry tiger made his first appearance at teatime.
The show is aimed at children three years and upwards, but my little girl, just under two, was captivated.
Apparently Wood, who also directed, is a member of the Magic Circle, which explains the illusions in the show which allow the tiger miraculously to empty the plates, the fridge and the cupboards of any food.
THE NORTHERN ECHO
The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Theatre Royal
by James Marley, Evening Chronicle
On April 16, 2009
SO how does this much-loved children’s book translate to the stage? In short, very well indeed.
This is Judith Kerr’s magical and improbable tale of a Tiger who turns up at little Sophie’s home for tea and munches his way through almost everything in the house.
Not only that but he drinks a pot of tea, all the water in the tap and even daddy’s beer. If that Tiger wasn’t so charming he would be due an Asbo.
And it is not just Sophie and her mum who the Tiger wins over. As good as the actors are, it is the 7ft Tiger who inevitably steals the show. There is almost a sense of anticlimax when the Tiger takes his leave shortly before the end.
That said this is a wonderful and engaging play sure to captivate your children. At under an hour there is no chance their attention will wander.
David Wood’s adaptation of what is rightly known as a modern classic works beautifully. A picture story is fleshed out with song and dance. And it gives you the chance to revisit a wonderful book.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea is at the Theatre Royal daytime until Saturday 18th April
Check out where you can see The Tiger Who Came To Tea
News Item TGBMOD - April 2009
THE GINGERBREAD MAN - A PINCH OF SALT
Newly baked this morning, take a look at my tan, Hey, hey I'm the Gingerbread Man!
The characters in this delightful series live on the the shelves of a kitchen dresser. Late at night, while the "Big Ones" are sleeping. The Gingerbread Man and his friends come alive and create musical mischief!
So many people have asked where they can get The Gingerbread Man on DVD after wearing out their copies on video. Below are links to an online shop which now has the newly re-released Gingerbread Man series for sale.
News Item GBM01 - April 2009
VIA THE GUESTBOOK
Via the Guestbook, Elaine Cox recently ordered THE DAVID WOOD SONGBOOK cassette. Now she has sent a very kind message, which has very much brightened my day! Here it is:
"Dear Mr Wood
Further to the correspondence below, I have only just realised that you had replied directly to me, for which I am most grateful !
One reason for purchasing the cassette was to remind me of your Magic and Music Show last year at Chipping Norton, which I had the privilege of attending.
I had a musical and artistic upbringing and have become concerned over recent years at the trend towards large-scale 'cultural' events and the associated 'celebrity culture.'
Your show was one of the most refreshing events I have been to. I was first impressed by your support for such a lovely little theatre, and then by the sensitivity of your interaction with the children in the audience, never losing their attention for a moment but always approaching your task with a view to educating, enlightening and unlocking imagination.
The most memorable part (aside from the washing line trick, which is incredible !) was your successful encouragement of the very shy young girl eventually to enter into the idea of imagining the clown to appear in the book.
Your show affirmed by belief in integrity in my own limited dealings with children's education and arts. I now have a copy of your book 'Theatre for Children', which has provided a fascinating account of the background to your approach.
I know you hold a position of responsibility as chair of 'Action for Children's Arts' and I wish to encourage you in your endeavours, as such an influence is needed today more than ever before. Very best wishes for the future.
ps I can post this on your web site if you like!
News Item SSCFC01 - April 2009
SEVEN STORIES - A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION
In December 2008 I was very pleased to perform at Seven Stories, the unique centre for the children's book, in Newcastle. Staff and audiences made me very welcome as I gave my GINGERBREAD MAN storytelling (based on my play, book and tv series), with magic, music and audience participation, as well as several BOOKS ARE FUN! sessions.
These events were 'public' versions of what I do when visiting schools and libraries, and gave me the opportunity to try to enthuse children towards enjoying books, as well as allowing me to indulge the performer that still lurks within me!
It was a particular pleasure to see Seven Stories for the first time, and see its splendid exhibition spaces, activity areas, performing attic and shop, not to mention its cafe with delicious homemade fare. It was even more exciting because, not long before my visit, I became part of the Seven Stories 'family'. Let me explain.
Nearly a decade ago, as Chair of Action for Children's Arts, the organisation dedicated to improve the profile and status of arts for children, I was privileged to introduce at our conference, Elizabeth Hammill and Mary Briggs, who announced their ambition to open a centre for the children's book. Because of their very obvious commitment, determination and confidence, I think everybody listening knew that this project would get off the ground! And it did, thanks to Elizabeth and Mary valiantly brushing aside all the obstacles thrown in their path.
It has been fascinating and rewarding following the progress and the eventual realisation of Elizabeth and Mary's dream. Everything about the enterprise is exciting and novel. It seems extraordinary that, until Seven Stories came along, very few children's writers and illustrators were offered homes for their archives. Adult writers often get offered large sums of money from universities at home and abroad in exchange for their manuscripts and papers. But those of us working for children have always been relegated to the second or maybe even the third division! Many of my colleagues were concerned that their life's work might have nowhere safe to live once they had passed on. And I felt the same.
So I was thrilled when Seven Stories asked if I would donate my archive. The first batch of box files left in September last year, and has already been catalogued. There is a lot more! Hopefully, in time, that will make its way to Newcastle too.
I'm sure that all the exciting archives gathered together at Seven Stories will prove invaluable to students and academics researching the development of writing for children. It happens to be something that the UK does rather well! It needs to be celebrated. And Seven Stories certainly does that, and should be treasured locally and nationally, and, indeed, internationally.
Find out more about Seven Stories at www.sevenstories.org.uk...
News Item PJ19 - February 2009
In January 2009 I went to Philadelphia and much enjoyed the Arden Theatre's production of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. Directed with great skill and style by Whit MacLaughlin, the production featured stunning graphics, projected on to three screens, helping to transfer the action from scene to scene. JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH became the third most successful show in the Arden's 20 year history. THE most successful was, I am delighted to say, my adaptation of Roald Dahl's THE BFG, two years ago.
To see some photos of the production, please check out the Arden's website ....
News Item TOTRFEB19 - February 2009
TIGER ON THE ROAD
August 27th saw the opening of my adaptation of Judith Kerr's classic picture book, THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA.
So far the reaction has been very positive. We opened to full houses at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London on August 27th, and now the show begins a long tour. Dates are confirmed up until Christmas 2008.
I was really delighted to be offered the opportunity of adapting THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA, which was my daughters' favourite book when they were small. My wife and I never got tired of reading it to them.
The production comes from the same company that has been touring THE GRUFFALO for several years.
'Photo by Bob Workman'
My thanks to Nick Brooke and Kenny Wax for giving me this lovely job. I have directed the production as well, with several of my usual team on board. Susie Caulcutt as designer, Peter Pontzen as musical arranger and supervisor, Emma Clayton as choreographer/assistant director and Neil Hillyer as company manager.
The cast, none of whom I have worked with before, are all delightful. Abbey Norman, Alan Atkins and Devon Black play the perfect family! And Alan plays the Tiger too!
Here is the first, thankfully favourable, review!
THE STAGE 10th September 2008
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Published Wednesday 10 September 2008 at 13:10 by Lisa Martland
It is a tall order adapting a bestselling children’s picture book for the stage. Even before the characters begin to tell the story, the production has to visually fit the bill and youngsters are harsh critics.
Lucky then that this adaptation of Judith Kerr’s delightful tale - a tiger visits little Sophie and her mother and stays for a rather large spot of tea - is in the safe and experienced hands of writer/director David Wood. While most of the audience is familiar with the book, he still has the knack of surprising them with imaginative touches as well as always encouraging audience participation.
This is achieved often by the introduction of ditties with actions for both the children and adults to join in with. There are one too many of these for my taste, but that was not the opinion of the very young kids seated around, who loved every minute.
Abbey Norman is charming as young Sophie. As her parents, Devon Black and Alan Atkins also never lose enthusiasm for their story, the latter doubling as a very convincing and well-mannered tiger.
Indeed special credit goes to set and costume designer Susie Caulcutt for not only interpreting the book’s gentle mood so well, but also creating a quite gorgeous feline costume. The simple but clever use of trickery when the tiger is gobbling up food around Sophie’s house is inspired.
For many years I have regularly received the magic magazine ABRACADABRA. Chris Wardle, magician and school teacher, has kindly written a review of TIGER for the magazine. Here it is ......
‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ as seen by Chris Wardle
‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by Judith Kerr is a classic children’s picture book. David Wood has lovingly adapted it for the stage to bring the fun and the excitement of the story to life. Scott Penrose created the magical effects for the production and the young audience at Cambridge’s Arts Theatre gasped and applauded as the table of food literally vanished as the tiger ate it – from plates of sandwiches and buns to a large cake on a pedestal – even a large jug of milkshake visibly vanished.
Other effects during the 55 minute production included the appearance of a bunch of feather flowers, cupboards and a fridge emptying and later refilling and a shopping basket visibly filling up as it was pushed around the stage.
This is a lovely production, with a superb tiger costume and an enthusiastic cast, who really know how to engage the audience. Abbey Norman plays Sophie, Devon Black Mummy and Alan Atkins Daddy and a variety of other roles.
David Wood has written some lively and catchy songs to enthral all ages. The young family sitting next to me giggled and laughed throughout, but it was a shame that the mother turned to her two four year old twins and said ‘The father is dressed up as the tiger’. (As indeed he was!). Who needs the Masked Magician when children as young as four are having the magic removed from their eyes so early?
However, at the end it was another actor, presumably a stage hand, who came on in the tiger costume to take a bow with the rest of the cast. The four year olds looked at their mother and said ‘You see Mummy, the tiger was real after all!’ Magic restored!
With both my Deputy Head Teacher’s hat on and my Magician’s hat on I can firmly recommend this as a fun piece of theatre and a chance to see David Wood work his very special brand of theatrical magic yet again! Do go and see it if it comes to a theatre near you!
To see a trailer of the show,
why not visit the Tiger's very own website!