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By the time you read this, SHAUN’S BIG SHOW, my adaptation of the delightful Aardman Animations’ SHAUN THE SHEEP series, will have opened at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage and then set off on its long UK tour.

It has been a fascinating adventure trying to faithfully represent the animal characters on stage, helped hugely by top designer Susie Caulcutt and brilliant choreographer Bill Deamer. It is a dance show, featuring every style from Riverdance to Disco, from Ballet to Greek, and was the brainchild of Ed O’Driscoll (Calibre Productions). Hopefully the show will appeal, just like the tv series, to all ages. It is certainly not aimed at very young children, though I am sure they will enjoy it. Our rehearsal days are filled with leaping sheep and tap-dancing pigs, a sheepdog who ticks his sheep in and out on a clipboard, and a farmer who never sees what his animals get up to behind his back. They are played by a knockout team of eleven versatile young dancers. Music has been specially arranged and recorded by Simon Townley, the musical director/pianist of the fabulous Pasadena Roof Orchestra. In this difficult financial climate, I’m hoping that a real family show such as this will keep box offices busy.

Staying on the subject of sheep, sheepdog and pigs, the same creatures feature in my adaptation of Dick King-Smith’s classic book THE SHEEP-PIG, which became the hugely successful film, BABE. I called my stage version BABE, THE SHEEP-PIG, to hopefully attract the fans of both the book and the film! The play toured a decade ago, and I had a ball directing it at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park a few summers ago. By the time you read this, I hope to have visited a production of the play at the Children’s Theatre, Minneapolis – as long as the weather is kind. Sadly, Dick King-Smith, who was keen to hear how this American production went, passed away in January. I attended his moving memorial service, held immediately after the private family funeral, in a Gloucestershire church packed to the rafters with friends, family and fans. He was a really lovely man. We were once sitting together in the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, waiting for a performance of BABE, THE SHEEP-PIG to begin, when we realised we couldn’t hear each other talking. We discovered we both had one rather deaf ear (mine was caused by firing a sten gun in the film IF....). So we swapped seats and the problem was solved. From that day on, when writing me his wonderfully witty letters, he would address me as ‘Dear DIRE’ and sign, ‘From DILE’. It took me a while to translate. I was ‘Deaf In Right Ear’. He was ‘Deaf In Left Ear’. Rest in Peace, dear DILE. With fond memories, DIRE.


David Wood 2011

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