Saturday, 9 August 2014

Orchestra! Lights! Cue the Wolf Pack!'

The wolf pack

      Children twisting and bending like trees in the wind, their arms forming low-hanging branches, a living forest to be lost in.
          Other children, wearing wolf-masks, climb through a leafy terrac, and slink and prowl.
          A peasant's chorus sing, beautifully, about the turning of the seasons, and the hunger that comes with winter.
          A troop of pompous, self-satisfied courtiers strut and cluck.
          And all the children quite obviously having a wonderful time as they sing and dance and act out their part.
          As their headmistress, Resham Mirza said, it was wonderful to see their courage and freedom on the stage.
          I saw all this at Tiverton School last week - a wonderful primary school in Tottenham.
Kate Stilitz

          I was there because I was contacted, through my website, by Kate Stilitz, Tiverton's music teacher. She had come across my book, The Wolf's Footprint, had loved it, and had turned it into a play, writing the script, songs and music herself. She wondered if I would like to come and see it performed?
          Well, what a silly question. It is true that I detest traveling to London. I don't like London much. It always seems to be roasting hot when I'm there, and gritty and dirty, noisy and crowded - normally I'd much, much rather spend 15 hours traveling to the Outer Hebrides than two hours traveling to London.
          But how many chances do you get to see a story that you wrote interpreted and reinvented by another artist because they loved it? With all the work, and thought, and revision that entails?
          Not many... So there was never any question but that I would go.
The villagers sing a rousing chorus
             It was a roasting hot day. London was as noisy, crowded, dirty and gritty as ever. But the play, and the children's performance - was worth it and more. There wasn't a moment when my attention wandered - I sat there throughout with a big grin on my face. You might say I was biased - but the rest of the audience, made up of parents and children from other classes in the school, were equally absorbed, despite the heat.
          Called on to say a few words after, I said that, although a bit late - my birthday had been the week before - it was the best birthday present I'd ever had.
          I mentioned that I'd written a book called The Ghost Drum, which had been awarded the Carnegie Medal for best book of its year - and that this was better. And I mean it.
          I'm not decrying the Carnegie Medal in any way. It was awarded by librarians who work with children, and who are informed, and often passionate, about children's books and their importance. And they gave me their medal. I'm proud of that.
          But it doesn't quite compare with discovering that another artist has so enjoyed and 'got' something that you've written, that they've been willing to pour their own energy into creating something new from it.
          Thank you, Kate. And thank you, the wonderful cast.
          The wolf-masks were made by Ramona Barsalona,

Daw becomes a wolf.
      Thank you to Kate for the photos - which will find their way to my website eventually.
The King and his court.
         The book of the musical is available as an e-reader from:

          It's available from Amazon as a paperback


Sue Bursztynski said...

How wonderful! You just have been sooo excited! A friend of mine was invited to a school play based on one of his novels, but a musical?

Recently, I was aced with having to teach plays to Year 8 and nothing worth teaching in our few shabby class sets, so I wrote a very short play based on a short story by another friend. It's working so far and we have some very difficult students. So looks like I'm not the only one doing this.

Joan Lennon said...

Absolutely fabulous!

Susan Price said...

Thanks Joan - and Sue B, what a great way to solve the problem! I bet your play is really good - but beyond that, I think children respond wonderfully - as why would they not? - to seeing that something is being made especially for them.

madwippitt said...

Fabulous! What a truly wonderful compliment ...
And such talent you have unleashed in the cast and transformer-into-song-and-music as well! Those wolf mask are brilliant too ... :-)
Will there now be an accompanying film, Tshirt and behind-the-scenes-fly-on-the-wall-making-of documentary too?