War Horse’s offspring on Grand stage

Michael Morpurgo
Michael Morpurgo
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Award winning author Michael
Morpurgo admits he is surprised his works have moved from the page to the stage.

But now Farm Boy, the sequel to the sensational War Horse, is coming to Blackpool Grand Theatre on September 23 and 24.

New Perspectives Theatre presents the moving account of the changing face of the English countryside and a beautifully-crafted reminder that stories really can reach out across the generations.

Following critically-acclaimed runs at both the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the 2011 Brits Off Broadway Festival in New York, plus a hugely successful UK tour, this magical tale of the bonds linking grandfather to grandson and ultimately both to the land has again been brought to life by New Perspectives.

“I never imagined that any of my stories would be adapted for stage and screen,” said Michael. “I hoped for it of course but neither War Horse nor its sequel Farm Boy seemed likely to be adapted – I simply didn’t see how they could be made into successful plays.

“The play brings new life to the story, and that is because the story is live on stage. I hope people will love the play as much as I do and that they will also read the book afterwards.”

But what is it like watching his stories come to life on stage?

“I’m always amazed to see a story of mine on stage and fascinated to discover how my stories have been altered. How directors, designers, musicians create a new vision and a new version of the stories.

“When it works well I love to feel the concentration of the audience. Writers of books rarely have the pleasure of seeing the effect of their stories on their readers as they read. Reading is a private, solitary affair.

“I live on a farm, I’ve worked on a farm for 20 years and more. In the farms all around where I live it wasn’t long ago that horses were replaced by tractors for ploughing, reaping, mowing. It has changed the culture of the countryside for ever.

“I wrote Farm Boy because so many readers wanted to know what happened to Joey (the main character – Albert Narracott’s beloved horse) in War Horse after he came home from World War 1.”

But although the play is coming the resort, Michael won’t be.

“Sadly I’ve never been to Blackpool,” he said. “But I was given a stick of Blackpool rock when I was little!”

Michael was born in 1943 and attended schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury. He went on to London University to study English and French, followed by a step into the teaching profession and a job in a primary school in Kent. It was there he discovered what he wanted to do. He would read to the children and found that they become bored of the same stories, so he decided to make up his own.

Michael wrote the children’s novel War Horse in 1982, and the stage adaptation was first premiered in 2007 which featured incredible life-size horse puppets. The adaptation won numerous awards including Best Play in the Tony Awards in 2011, Best Theatre Choreographer (Toby Sedgwick) in the Lawrence Olivier Awards and Best Design in the Evening Standard awards. In 2011 Steven Spielberg directed a film of the novel which became a box office success and was met with positive critical consensus. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, two Golden Globe Awards and five BAFTAs.

Farm Boy is at The Grand on Sunday and Monday, September 23 and 24.

Get tickets from £12 from blackpoolgrand.co.uk where you can now select your own seat. Or call the box office on (01253) 290190.