An evening with David Wood (theatre adaptations of children's literature)

An evening with David Wood (theatre adaptations of children's literature)

Thursday 29th September, 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Venue: Olivier Suite, Theatre Royal Newcastle

Theatre Royal and Seven Stories will welcome Olivier award-winning playwright and author David Wood to Newcastle this September. 

During the run of his theatre adaptation of Judith Kerr's The Tiger Who Came to Tea at Newcastle Theatre Royal (28th Sept - 2nd Oct), David Wood will discuss his creative approach, reveal more about the production of his plays and outline what he feels makes a successful children’s adaptation. The award-winning dramatist will also share highlights from his illustrious career and the talk will be followed by a Q&A with the audience, compered by author and presenter Alfie Joey. 

David Wood donated his archive to Seven Stories in 2008, becoming the largest archive in our Collection. Original material from the David Wood archive will be showcased at the event to explore David’s creative process and complement this fascinating insight into his work. 

Ideal for theatre and literature lovers, students, researchers and enthusiasts of all ages to discover the creative process involved in transforming a modern classic into sell-out theatre for children.


About David Wood OBE

DAVID WOOD OBE, the ‘national children’s dramatist’ (The Times) wrote the first of his 75 plays in 1967. Performed worldwide, they include The Gingerbread Man,The See-Saw Tree (recently produced by the China National Theatre for Children), Save the Human,The Selfish Shellfish and The Ideal Gnome Expedition. For 25 years he directed his plays for his Whirligig Theatre touring company. Among his adaptations are 8 Roald Dahl stories, including The BFG and The Witches (three West End seasons each), Goodnight Mister Tom (Olivier Award 2013), Tom’s Midnight Garden (two UK Theatre Awards), Babe, the Sheep-Pig, and The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Olivier-nominated, now in its 14thyear touring the UK and internationally, including many West End seasons). He is President of Action for Children’s Arts and received the J M Barrie Award 2017. The Story Museum, Oxford recently named its new theatre space after him – The Woodshed.

4 Questions with David Wood...

We wanted to get to know David even better ahead of his event so we asked him some soul-searching questions!

1. What is your favourite word and why?
My favourite word is… ‘suddenly’. When asked by her mother, a Canadian children’s book publisher, why she had so liked a particular book, the child thought, then replied, “Lots of suddenlies!” Hearing this transformed my writing of books and plays. ‘Suddenlies’ in a book give it an exciting page-turning quality, and in a play make the audience eager to know what comes next… My motto is ‘several suddenlies on every page’.

2. Which book character do you think you are most like and why?
Quite a few people have said I’m like Peter Pan, but I think they are being a bit rude, thinking that I have never grown up… Others say, because I’m a magician as well as a writer, and because I wear big glasses, that I’m like Harry Potter. But I don’t really fancy forever being a pupil at Hogwarts. Now I’m getting on a bit in years, I feel very close to two of the characters whose stories I was privileged to adapt for the stage - Roald Dahl’s The BFG and Michelle Magorian’s Mister Tom. But I’m not as big as the first or as brave as the second… but I can dream!

3. What was your favourite book when you were a child?
I don’t think I had a favourite book as a child. But, without question, Mrs Knowles and Enid Blyton taught me to read. Mrs Knowles was a teacher at my first school, and one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books was the first book I ever read cover to cover in one single sitting! I remember being given the first Noddy book in 1949, believe it or not! Many years later I wrote two stage adaptations of the Noddy stories. But as a child I preferred the Wonk books by Muriel Levy, about a koala bear. An illustration I will never forget features Wonk warming his paws over a night-watchman’s brazier.

4. If you could meet one book character in read life, who would it be?
One book character I much admired was Enid Blyton’s Mr Pinkwhistle. If I ever met him, I’d like to thank him for giving me a strong sense of justice and fairness. He always managed to sort out problems of bullying or unfair behaviour. He made me realise what a powerful emotion we all, from a very young age, experience when things are unjust. One of the first things we all learn to say is, “It’s not fair!” As a writer I use this lots. It makes my readers or theatre audiences feel sorry for a character and root for them to succeed against the odds. Think Babe in The Sheep-Pig, Sophie in The BFG, William Beech in Goodnight Mister Tom, or, in the most famous story in the world, Cinderella.