David Wood OBE has adapted many much-loved children’s books for the stage over the years, including The Tiger Who Came To Tea, James and the Giant Peach and Babe The Sheep-Pig, as well as writing a number of his own plays. In 2006, The Queens Handbag, written to celebrate the Queen’s 80th birthday, was performed in Buckingham Palace Gardens by an all-star cast at the Children’s Party at the Palace.
His latest creation Spot’s Birthday Party comes to Town Hall next week, and everyone is invited to come along and join in the fun! David talks about the show below…
When I was first asked to adapt Spot’s Birthday Party for the stage I looked at all the Spot books. They’re very minimal, and are hardly stories at all, so it was a big challenge. But what was reassuring was the fact that the four main characters are really just children.
Reading Spot’s Birthday Party, it suddenly struck me that the structure is very like a birthday party. That’s something that children know about from a young age. They know there will be certain things like cake and games. I decided it would be useful to have an entertainer, an extrovert character who could use magic and juggle and create balloon animals, so I came up with a rabbit called Marco.
I also came up with the idea of Spot’s friends giving him presents. The audience gets involved trying to guess what the presents are from their shape. Children feel empowered by the fact that they know the answer, even if 500 other children are shouting out at the same time. They’re pleased to help – they enjoy being part of the show.
A lot come dressed for a party. They are also encouraged to make their own birthday cards for Spot. When they arrive in the foyer, there is a large dog basket where they can put their cards. A lot of cards are then stuck on the side of the stage. Spot thanks everyone. All this helps make the audience part of the entertainment.
My responsibility is to make children engaged and emotionally involved in a play. They want to know what happens next, and enjoy the experience of having the story told them in that way. I have to come up with something that will keep the interest of children and stop them wanting to go to the loo. If they’re bored, children will start talking or asking to go to the loo. Rather vulgarly, I’ve always said that my mission for the last 45 years has been to stop children going to the lavatory!’
Spot’s Birthday Party is at Town Hall on Wednesday 29 May (1.30pm) and Thursday 30 May (10.30am & 1.30pm). For more information, or to buy tickets, visit the event page.