David Wood's Plays
WOOD CELEBRATES OVER 50 YEARS OF WRITING FOR CHILDREN
the future, and it is a privilege and challenge to write plays which
may well be their very first introduction to the world of theatre; a
world that can trigger their imaginations as well as entertain them,
make them think as well as make them laugh, and open their minds to new
ideas and the power of storytelling through theatre.
Since John Hole
commissioned me to write THE TINDERBOX
(unpublished, unsurprisingly, to be honest!) for the Swan Theatre,
Worcester in 1967, I have written seventy plus plays. They
fall into three main categories
- original plays,
- and what I call
PLAYS including THE GINGERBREAD MAN,
THE PAPERTOWN PAPERCHASE,
HIJACK OVER HYGENIA and NUTCRACKER
SWEET, are often fantasy-based. THE
GINGERBREAD MAN features characters like Salt, Pepper
and The Old Teabag, who live on a kitchen dresser. THE
PAPERTOWN PAPERCHASE uses a Beauty and the Beast theme
to tell the story of a fight between the inhabitants of Papertown and
the Land of Fire. HIJACK OVER HYGENIA
depicts the cleanest kingdom in the world when attacked by Measlygerms.
NUTCRACKER SWEET is set
in a world “peopled” by nuts. The lives of Kernel Walnut, Old Ma
Coconut, Hazel and William the Conker are threatened by the arrival of
the Chocolate Squirter, in search of nuts for his high-class
Some of the
original plays are environmental. In THE PLOTTERS OF
CABBAGE PATCH CORNER,
garden insects face uncertainty when the human Big Ones use anti-insect
spray. THE SELFISH SHELLFISH depicts the
dilemma of rock pool creatures facing pollution from an oil slick. THE
SEE-SAW TREE looks at conservation from the point of
view of the creatures living on an ancient oak tree endangered by a
Most of the
original plays feature creative audience participation. Some of them
Roald Dahl, Philippa Pearce, Dick King-Smith and Michelle Magorian are some of the distinguished children’s authors I have been lucky enough to adapt. The classic titles include THE BFG, THE WITCHES, DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, THE TWITS, FANTASTIC MR FOX, GEORGE’S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE, THE MAGIC FINGER, BABE, THE SHEEP-PIG and TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN.
For younger children there are adaptations of NODDY (Enid Blyton), SPOT (Eric Hill), MEG AND MOG (Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski), THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA (Judith Kerr), and GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU (Sam McBratney). All these stories I have tried to translate from page to stage faithfully and with theatrical flair.
SUBSTITUTES” have been mainly created for the annual pantomime slot.
Some are original versions of classic stories, some are new stories
featuring well-known characters. All of them have in common an
action-packed plot, tuneful music, humour and a creative use of
audience participation. Animals feature strongly, as children (and
adults) relate strongly to animal characters. Sometimes they are
constructed to include an optional chorus of adults or children.
The plays are produced professionally all over the world. In the UK there are many amateur productions too. Schools use them in their ‘Literacy Hour’ as well as perform them as school plays. I have recently written adaptations especially for schools, such as (for Puffin Books), THE BFG: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN, THE WITCHES: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN, THE TWITS: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN and DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN. And I have adapted Michael Foreman’s DINOSAURS AND ALL THAT RUBBISH and Ronda and David Armitage’s THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S LUNCH for large numbers of children working with two adult actors.
In all my plays
there is a determination not to patronise children, rather to
emotionally involve them in a strong and fast-moving storyline. They
offer opportunities for imaginative set, costume and lighting design,
for special effects and, sometimes, puppetry.
They all have
“lots of suddenlies…”. A Canadian children’s book publisher, with whom
I was once interviewed on television, when trying to explain what works
for children, told how her own daughter, aged 8, put down a book,
saying how much she had enjoyed it. “Why?” asked her mother, mainly out
of professional interest. “Lots of suddenlies” came her daughter’s
reply. It’s been my motto ever since.
of the plays, in alphabetical order, can be found below. A brief
history, synopsis and cast requirements are given, plus press reviews
and publishing and performing rights information.
For Children : Guide To Writing, Adapting, Directing And Acting
Writen with Janet Grant
theatre for children as a separate art form, David Wood draws upon his
experiences as a magician, actor, director, producer, composer and
playwright, and analyses the skills involved in entertaining and
involving audiences of children everywhere.
He reveals his
special techniques for catching and holding a child's attention,
provides a practical step-by-step guide illustrated with excerpts from
his plays, and gives a behind-the scenes look at the work that goes
into them. He also examines the business side, showing exactly how a
good synopsis will help to sell an idea. This book has become a set
text in the UK and also in the USA.
book is available to buy for £10.00
of David Wood's plays are published by Samuel French Limited, and can
be bought from the Samuel French shop or by mail order.
Here is a
PLAYS AND MUSICALS BY DAVID WOOD
General : List of plays and
musicals - David Wood