NEWS: The Savage @ Live Theatre | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Award-winning author David Almond brings a reimagining of his short story, The Savage, to Newcastle’s Live Theatre from Thursday 30th June until Saturday 23rd July. Focusing on creativity and renewal, he considers the production to be “richer in some ways than the novel”. Directed by Max Roberts, the production is sure to charm and enlighten viewers to the importance of creativity and its place in society, be it young adults or old.

After Blue’s father’s sudden death, his school counsellor encourages him to express his feelings through writing; he draws a comic of a boy, or Savage, who protects Blue by beating up his bully, Hopper. Things take a darker turn, as Savage then comes to life, killing those who get too close to him. The priority of the story is to represent the safety creativity can bring to children; Blue cheers up his mourning family by presenting his comic to them, turning their tears to laughter. Almond skilfully magnifies the family dynamic amid their overwhelming grief, as David explains. “One of the central themes is the power of language, and the power of storytelling to recreate the world.”

Almond and Roberts undoubtedly grasp the viewer’s imagination, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality in the adaption of this distinguished short story. The play is part of Live Theatre’s new Children’s Writing Centre’s Live Tales, which offers creative writing sessions to pupils aged 7-12 from September onwards.

Sherilyn caught up with author David Almond to discover more about the play’s themes.

Did you consider how the story would adapt into a play whilst you were writing the novel?
Not really. I guess because I wrote it as an illustrated book it had a sense of drama because I was thinking about the space around the words and the images that I would use, so it became sort of natural that it should then become a stage piece.

 What would you say the focal theme of the play is? Does it carry the theme of grief or does it focus on creativity and imagination? 
I think one of the central themes is the power of language, and the power of storytelling to recreate the world and to make it civilised.

So would you say the play will be quite true to the novel?
It is, I’ve made some changes because you have to when you put something on stage. There’s a couple of new characters, I think it’s richer in some ways than the novel is, particularly because of one extra character called Elaine. It’s a different form, I mean I really like the novel and I love the way it turned out but then when you take it and expand and adapt it, it takes on different dimensions.

It seems that the Savage character is a metaphor for the way children shutdown to deal with grief, and cannot communicate their feelings. Is this something you intended before writing the novel?
Not really, I suppose one of things about Blue is explaining that children can communicate, and that they can create things from language that do embody their emotions.

Where did the idea of the Savage character come from?
It’s something that I’m really interested in, the whole notion that civilisation has to contain grief in the wilderness. As human beings we are civilised but also have elements of wildness; civilisation is about bringing together those civilised and wild sides.

Something I find really interesting about your novels is the focus on the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, will this theme be made prominent in the play, also?
I suppose the most fantastical element is the Savage himself. He’s a creature and a being written by a boy who writes a story about a savage and the Savage itself comes out into the world, so it’s the perfect kind of idea that the things you create can come true.

The play is focused towards families, would you consider it to be interpreted similarly by adults and children?
I think the central parts of it will be quite similar. I’m used to writing for people for all ages so it’s great to do something that involves adults and children together. I also think in the process adults will learn a lot about children and their intelligence and creativity.

The Savage is at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Thursday 30th June until Saturday 23rd July.


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