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Children's dramatist David Wood whose adaptations of Michelle Magorian's Goodnight Mister Tom, Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine and Aardman Animations’ Shaun the Sheep are currently on national tour, will visit the Arts Theatre, with six performances of David Wood's Storytime over the Easter holidays from 19th to 23rd April.

The show will combine "magic, music and audience participation" with Wood re-enacting his world-famous book, play and TV series The Gingerbread Man and other books including Funny Bunny Magic Show.

David Wood began writing as a student at Oxford University in the sixties.

He wrote his first play for children in 1967 and has since written over sixty more.
They are performed all over the world and include THE GINGERBREAD MAN (nine London seasons), THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT WENT TO SEE... (six London seasons, co-written with Sheila Ruskin), THE SELFISH SHELLFISH, THE SEE-SAW TREE, SAVE THE HUMAN (from the story he wrote with cartoonist Tony Husband), THE IDEAL GNOME EXPEDITION and THE PLOTTERS OF CABBAGE PATCH CORNER.

His stage adaptations of well-known books include Dick King-Smith's BABE THE SHEEP-PIG, Roald Dahl's THE BFG and THE WITCHES (both of which played long tours and two West End seasons), THE TWITS, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH and FANTASTIC MR FOX, DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD and GEORGE’S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE, HRH The Prince of Wales' THE OLD MAN OF LOCHNAGAR, Michael Foreman's DINOSAURS AND ALL THAT RUBBISH, Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski's MEG AND MOG SHOW (five London seasons for Unicorn Theatre), Philippa Pearce's TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN  (which Unicorn Theatre played on tour, in the West End and on Broadway) and Judith Kerr’s THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA.

He was dubbed 'the national children's dramatist' by Irving Wardle in The Times and published, to rave reviews, THEATRE FOR CHILDREN: GUIDE TO WRITING, ADAPTING, DIRECTING AND ACTING (Faber), co-written with Janet Grant, which has become required reading on the subject in the UK and the US,and is now published in China.

He directed many of his plays for his own company, Whirligig Theatre (founded with John Gould in 1979), which for 25 years toured to major theatres nationwide include Sadler's Wells in London.

Film screenplays include SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS and BACK HOME, which won a gold award at the New York Film and TV Festival 1991. Writing for television includes the series CHIPS' COMIC, CHISH 'N' FIPS and THE GINGERBREAD MAN; and TIDE RACE, his filmed drama for Central Television and the European Broadcasting Union, has won several international awards.

For BBC Radio 4 he adapted Arthur Ransome's SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS.

He also writes children's books; with Richard Fowler he has co-created novelty books including BEDTIME STORY, MOLE'S SUMMER STORY, MOLE'S WINTER STORY, SILLY SPIDER, THE MAGIC SHOW, FUNNY BUNNY'S MAGIC SHOW and THE TOY CUPBOARD. He wrote THE PHANTOM CAT OF THE OPERA (illustrated by Peters Day).

David Wood has followed a parallel career as an actor, best remembered as Johnny in Lindsay Anderson's cult film IF...

In 2004 he was awarded an OBE for services to literature and drama in the Queen's birthday honours.

In 2006 he wrote THE QUEEN’S HANDBAG, a play to celebrate the Queen’s 80th birthday.  It was performed by an all-star cast in Buckingham Palace Gardens at the Children’s Party at the Palace, and seen live on BBC 1 by 8,000,000 television viewers.

Since its first production, at the Towngate Theatre, Basildon in 1976, The Gingerbread Man has become an internationally successful musical play for children, as well as something of a classic in Great Britain.

The first London season was presented by Cameron Mackintosh and David Wood in 1977 at the Old Vic. Well known actors who have appeared in the play include Bernard Cribbins, Peter Duncan, Imelda Staunton, Clive Dunn, Ronnie Stevens, Kevin Whateley and Ken Stott.

The play has been performed by most British repertory companies. Abroad, productions have been mounted in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Finland, Sweden (at the National Theatre – the Dramaten) and Switzerland.

The 25th anniversary production took place at the Norden Farm Arts Centre, Maidenhead for Christmas 2001/2.

There have been two storybook versions of The Gingerbread Man, as well as a cassette version, narrated by Bernard Cribbins.  Thirteen episodes of a model animation series based on the play have been seen on television and home video.

David Wood writes: Of all my plays, this has proved the most popular. For nearly thirty years it has played in theatres large and small all over the world, and never seems to date.

The play takes place on an antique kitchen dresser. The Gingerbread Man, newly baked by the Big Ones, meets Salt, Pepper and Herr Von Cuckoo, who lives in the cuckoo-clock.

He has a sore throat which is ruining his “cuckoos”, thus threatening to land him in the dreaded dustbin.

The Gingerbread Man’s efforts to help Cuckoo’s sore throat are hampered by the villainous scavenger Sleek the Mouse and by The Old Bag – an old tea-bag who lives in the tea pot on the top shelf.

There is lots of constructive audience participation, humour, action and songs.

“…splendid … the company succeed in stirring the loudest audience participation I have ever heard and, much more remarkable, commanding the most absolute breath holding silences.”
The Times

Book Storytime tickets online now

[posted by Louise, 31/03/2011]

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