WAR HORSE Author Michael Morpurgo Talks Links with The Marlowe Theatre

WAR HORSE Author Michael Morpurgo Talks Links with The Marlowe Theatre

As rehearsals start in Canterbury for the National Theatre's War Horse, author Michael Morpurgo has been speaking about his links with the city.

It was announced last year that The Marlowe Theatre had been chosen as the launch venue for a major new tour of the show, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in October.

Based on Michael's book, War Horse is a remarkable story of courage, loyalty, and friendship about a young boy called Albert and his horse Joey. Set against the backdrop of the First World War, and featuring ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, it is the most successful play in the National Theatre's history.

War Horse received its world premiere on 9 October 2007 at the National Theatre, London, where it played for two seasons before opening at the New London Theatre in March 2009. Since then, it has been seen by more than seven million people worldwide (including a Chinese language production), and won 25 awards (including the Tony Award for Best Play on Broadway).

Michael said: "On 15 September, War Horse begins an extensive UK Tour, at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. And thereby hangs a tale or two.

"My mother and father were acting in rep at The Marlowe in 1938. I believe it was where they fell in love and decided to get married. They were young, and no doubt full of hope for the future. The Second World War was to blight their lives and their marriage. I grew up in a family scarred by war. This was, I am sure, why I came to write War Horse all those years ago, why peace and war have been at the heart of so many stories I have written before and since.

"My mother was the first to give me my love of stories. She read to me every night - Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories was her favourite and mine. She read them with a passion, bringing the characters to life, playing with the language as she read. She acted out those stories to me, made bedtime a joy. I cannot read the Just So Stories without hearing her voice in my head.

"Whatever we become or whatever we achieve in this life, we only do it with the help and inspiration of others, our benefactors. My mother gave me my love of stories, a teacher or two at my school - also in Canterbury by the way, the same school where Kit Marlowe went a few years before me.

"Then there was my friend TEd Hughes who kept me writing when things were not going well; and I owe much to my own children and the children I taught in school, who became my first readers and listeners. And my wife Clare is always my first reader and editor, and who always thought War Horse was my best book. She was right, it seems. She must be, because Joey has trotted on all these years, in one guise or another, as a book, a play, in concert form, as a film. Now when I write another book, I am 'the author of War Horse.' That I owe to the play, to the National Theatre, and to yet another of my benefactors, Tom Morris, who had the crazy notion of adapting the book to the stage in the first place."

Photo credit: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

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