York Theatre Royal’s getting well known for putting on great stage adaptations of children’s classics. Last year it was The Secret Garden, and now it’s Swallows & Amazons.
The story tells of a group of children as they set sail for adventure in the Lake District. Children’s minds are often adventurous and full of stories, so it should be a beautiful show. The book has been adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson, an unusual choice given her more adult literary adaptations such as Anna Karenina.
The show is being co-directed by Damian Cruden, his final production after 22 years as York Theatre Royal’s Artistic Director. It must be an incredibly stressful time for Damian, who has brought numerous stunning plays to life including the almighty success The Railway Children.
Damian says: “I’m looking forward to working on this script with a talented group of artists, that my last show for YTR is for families seems appropriate.”
Not least because a former member of YTH Youth Theatre, who has starred in productions directed by Damian Cruden, is coming back home to York Theatre Royal marking her professional debut. Laura will also appear in the YTR Youth Theatre production of Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather and has already started learning aerial skills for the circus-themed story!
Laura says: “Being in Swallows & Amazons feels really special – it’s my first professional role at the theatre. The book is one of my absolute favourites which is one reason I am so excited to being doing it. I just love everything about it. We go to the Lake District every year on holiday with my family so I just feel so connected to the story.
“I really like how it doesn’t patronise children. It gives them the time and space to tell their story and I love how Arthur Ransome takes it so seriously. For them it’s a big deal, a proper adventure however childish and silly it may seem from an adult point of view.”
Also returning to York in Swallows & Amazons are Ed Thorpe and Clara Darcy. Completing the cast are William Pennington, Alex Wingfield, Hannah Khogali, Ellen Chivers and Anne-Marie Piazza.
The production is being supported by a couple of extra-curricular events including a Swallows vs Amazons Challenge for kids every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 1 to 2pm in the Studio from 31th July. There’s also a 65+ workshop on Wednesday 31st July, as John R Wilkinson explains what a theatre director really does in his Director’s Masterclass.
I adore things like that, getting the community genuinely involved and excited about a production. Seeing a theatre show is more than enough creativity for some, but to go that extra mile and engage all age ranges is a truly special thing. The show looks particularly fab, too!
Visit yorktheatreroyal.co.uk for further information and to book your tickets.