A little bit of stage magic from Philip Pullman’s fiery tale
After successful adaptations of best-selling children’s authors such as Michael Morpurgo, Terry Deary and David Almond, Birmingham Stage Company this Christmas turn its attention to Philip Pullman, writes Diane Parkes.
The company is adapting the writer’s story The Firework-Maker’s Daughter which is due to open at Birmingham’s Old Rep Theatre on November 9.
BSC actor manager Neal Foster says the tale just lends itself to the stage.
“It is a very theatrical story,” he says. “You have this girl Lila who wants to become a firework-maker but she is told she can’t do it because she is a girl. But she won’t accept this and she goes off on a really exciting adventure to discover the secret of fire-making and to see the fire demon.
“It is so colourful and so imaginative and she has a whole series of adventures that no-one could imagine in their whole lifetime.
“I have always believed that the theatre should be able to carry you away to worlds that you could never actually live in. I am never going to climb Mount Merapi or meet pirates or chase through the jungle – but theatre allows you to do it.”
Neal and his team have been working closely with the Pullman estate on the production, which is being adapted by Stephen Russell.
The BSC production will be the second stage version of the children’s tale by Pullman who is best-known for the His Dark Materials trilogy.
“I have spoken to Philip Pullman on the phone and hopefully he will come along to see some of the rehearsals and the final production,” adds Neal.
“When I think about it I realise how amazing it is that we have been able to work with so many of the top contemporary British writers for children. We worked with David Almond on Skellig, Michael Morpurgo on Kensuke’s Kingdom and Why The Whales Came, Terry Deary for six Horrible History plays and now Philip Pullman.”
BSC has enjoyed a successful run of Christmas shows in recent years which has also included Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine and Danny The Champion of the World as well as Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. In between the company has also produced Shakespeare’s Othello and Twelfth Night and David Almond’s Skellig.
Neal is confident that The Firework-Maker’s Daughter will continue the trend.
“This is a large cast for us and they are taking on a very ambitious project as they are playing 29 different characters. The sets are huge, the costumes are fantastic and we have some incredible effects. We couldn’t do a show called The Firework-Maker’s Daughter without some really special firework effects.