Born in 1943 Michael Morpurgo describes himself as ‘oldish’. Married to Clare, father to three children and grandfather to six he has written over 100 titles for children over the course of his career.
After studying English and French at London University he took a job teaching primary school children and realized that the books on offer to them were sadly lacking in any real spark so he began to make up his own; something the children enjoyed so much so that this was what he decided he really wanted to do.
Morpurgo is noted for his magical storytelling, for recurring themes such as the triumph of an outsider, survival, and characters’ relationships with nature, and for vivid settings such as the Cornish coast or World War I.
His most popular books include Why the Whales Came (1985), which was made into a film starring Helen Mirren; King of the Cloud Forests (1988), which wonthe Cercle D’Or Prix Sorciere (France); My Friend Walter (1988) and Out of the Ashes (2001), which were both adapted for television. The Wreck of the Zanzibarwon the 1995 Whitbread Children’s Book Award.
The Buttery Liondraws on the author’s own unhappy experiences at boarding school, and is the story of a young boy who rescues an orphaned lion club from the African bush. It won the 1996 Nestle Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award). Kensuke’s Kingdom(1999) tells the tale of a boy who survives on an island after falling from his parents’ yacht and learns how to survive with the help of the mysterious Kensuke. This book won the Children’s Book Award in 2000. Private Peaceful (2003) is set during the first world war and telling the story of two brothers, Charlie and Tommo. It won the 2005 Red House Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the 2004 Whitbread Children’s Book Award.
In 2003 Michael Morpurgo became the third Children’s Laureate, a scheme he had originally helped to set up with poet Ted Hughes. The Laureateship rewards a lifetime contribution to children’s literature and highlights the importance of the role of children’s books. Morpurgo firmly believes that “literature comes before literacy” and wants all children “to discover and rediscover the secret pleasure that is reading, and to begin to find their voice in their own writing”.
Honored with an MBE in 1999 then Children’s Laureate from 2003-2005 and recipientof an OBE in 2006, Morpurgo is also a patron of countless charities, and in 1976 began, with his wife, the Farms for City Children charity which aims to relieve the experience of poverty in inner cities and urban areas by giving children the opportunity to live and work on a real farm for a week.
He has received critical acclaim for many of his books, nationally and internationally and counts Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson as his favorite authors.
2012 saw the release of the film adaptation of Morpurgo’s War Horse, an exceptionally poignant story of one horse’s experience in the First World War which was directed by Steven Spielberg.
Adaptor & Director
Simon has previously adapted and directed Michael Morpurgo’s An Elephant In The Garden(Poonamallee Productions), and dramatized Twist Of Gold(Polka Theatre), Toro! Toro!(Salisbury Playhouse) and The Mozart Question(Bristol Old Vic) as well as The Morpurgo Concert Seriesincluding On Angel Wings. He wrote the screenplay for the feature film of Private Peaceful(directed by Pat O’Connor, fluidityfilms.com), the BBC Radio 4 dramatization, and the large-cast play popular with schools and youth theatres (published by Samuel French).
Other plays include: A Room with a View (ACT Productions); Pride & Prejudice(Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre/Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis); Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland(Bristol Old Vic/Polka); Jill Tomlinson’s The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Darkand Philip Pullman’s Aladdin & The Enchanted Lamp(Bristol Old Vic); Ted Hughes’s Tales From Ovidand Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Childrenfor the Royal Shakespeare Company where Simon was Dramaturg.
He has also adapted and directed Philip Pullman’s The Scarecrow & His Servant(Southwark Playhouse) and Geraldine McCaughrean’s Not The End Of The World(Bristol Old Vic).
While Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic Simon directed Cyrano De Bergerac, The Birthday Partyand The Dumb Waiter, The Turn Of The Screw, and Lee Hall’s Two’s Company + Child Of The Snow. In 2016 he directed a ground-breaking Iraqi tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dreamwith Kurdish and Arabic students; and the musical Bliss, for which he wrote the book, is currently in repertoire in Istanbul after opening in London and touring Germany.
He directed Filter Theatre’s debut feature film What You Will(Soda Pictures, whatyouwill.co.uk) and he wrote the screenplay for Journey’s End(2017) (BFI/Metro International). His screenplay of Jane Austen’s Sanditonhas recently been completed (directed by Jim O’Hanlon, IFB/Goldcrest/Ripple).
His books include Dear Mr Shakespeare: Letters to a Jobbing Playwright, published by Oberon Books who also publish his plays.
Shane trained at the Gaiety School of Acting, where in 2013, he received the Gaiety Theatre Bursary.
Shane’s Theatre Credits include: All That We Found Here Home(New Theatre) (Smock Alley), The Spinning Heart(Tour), Jack and the Beanstalk(Mill Productions), Hamlet(Mill Productions), The Spinning Heart(Articulate Anatomy) Hamlet(AC Productions), The Wise Wound(Smock Alley), The Boys(Smock Alley), Tales from the Woods(Gumption T.C.), King Lear(Mill Productions), Spring Awakening(Ill-Advised T.C.), Trainspotting(Smock Alley), Howie The Rookie(Samuel Beckett Theatre) Off-Key(Ill-Advised Theatre Company), Slender(Reality: Check Productions), Line of Decent(New Theatre), Romeo & Juliet (Tour), Othello (Tour), Borstal Boy(Gaiety Theatre),Smock!(Smock Alley), Dirty Laundry(Chris Edmund), The Critic(Rough Magic), Macbeth(Smock Alley), Hamlet(Greystones Theatre), A Midsummers Night’s Dream(Pavilion Theatre), The Bee-Loud Glade(RTE Arena).
Shane’s Film credits include: Summon Her Children(Brick By Stone), The Abandoned House(Edmund Buckley), Tinder(Blueprint Pictures), Do It Now(Viko Nicki), MMA(Viko Nicki) Cura Crises Pregnancy(Kairos)
Shane is the Artistic Director of Reality: Check Productions.
Lighting and Set
Anshu's designs for Opera, Theater and Dance have been seen at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Soho Rep, The Public, Atlantic Theater Company, Arena Stage in Washington D.C., The Juilliard School, HERE Arts Center, LoftOpera, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Pacific Symphony, BardMusic Festival, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Infinity Theater Company, The University of Denver, and The New School for Drama. His associate designs have been seen at the New York Philharmonic, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Central City Opera in Colorado, Gotham Chamber Opera Washington Ballet, Roundabout Theater & the Barbican Center. M.F.A. NYU. www.bhatiadesign.com
ason Barnes has been involved in theatre soundfor over 15 years, designing sound for productions throughout the UK. Jason was also Head of Sound and Resident Sound Designer for Bristol Old Vic from 1999 to 2007.
West End sound designs include Mrs. Warren’s Profession (Comedy Theatre and UK tour), Private Lives (Vaudeville Theatre), Enjoy (Gielgud Theatre and UK tour), We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Duchess Theatre and UK tour).
Other Theatre includes Swallows and Amazons (Bristol Old Vic), Canary (Liverpool Playhouse, Hampstead and UK tour), Low Pay? Don’t Pay! (Salisbury Playhouse), Juliet and Her Romeo ( Bristol Old Vic), Hansel and Gretel ( Bristol Old Vic, Kneehigh Theatre UK tour), Quadrophenia (Plymouth Theatre Royal and UK tour), Once Upon A Time At The Adelphi, Noises Off, Dr Faustus (Liverpool Playhouse), Home ( Bristol Old Vic Studio), What the Butler Saw, Alphabetical Order (Salisbury Playhouse), A Small Family Business, We That Are Left (Watford Palace Theatre), Ma Vie En Rose (Young Vic), Unprotected(Liverpool Everyman), Arms and The Man (National Tour).
As resident Sound Designer at Bristol Old Vic, shows included Aesop’s Fables (Bristol, Edinburgh Festivaland International Tour), The Three Musketeers, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Barber of Seville, Tamburlaine (Bristol and Barbican), Odyssey (Bristol, Liverpool and West Yorkshire Playhouse), Arcadia and Private Peaceful (Bristol and Tour), Beasts and Beauties, Paradise Lost, Up the Feeder Down the Mouth and Back Again, One Love (Bristol and Lyric Hammersmith), A Streetcar Named Desire, Blues Brother Soul Sisters.
Other sound: Sound Engineer Rapunzel for Kneehigh Theatre (UK tour and adaptation for the Off-Broadway venue, New Victory Theatre, NYC)
Producer and General Manager
Pemberley Productions is a company founded and run by Andrew D. Hamingson and Tim Smith. They are a producing company dedicated to bringing European drama to North America and North American drama to Europe. Next season, as well as co-producing the US tour of The Woman in Black, Pemberley is producing US tours of PW Productions tour of the National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of An Inspector Calls directed by Stephen Daldryand the first US tour of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, adapted and directed by Simon Reade. Previous projects include a US national tour of the RSC / Filter Theatre production of Twelfth Night, A European Tour of The Public Theater’s Apple Family Plays and an Irish Tour of the American Players Theatre’s production of James DeVita’s In Acting Shakespeare. Pemberley also co-produced the US tour of Ensemble Basiani from the Republic of Georgia in 2016 and general managed the US tour of Druid Theatre’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane. This season Pemberley Productions is producing the second US national tour of Sanchoby and with Paterson Joseph, and have general managed the national tour of Theatre De La Ville’s State of Siege and the NY premiere of Some Old Black Man at 59E59 Theatres.
Verdant Productions was founded by Donal Shiels in 2011. The company produces and promotes theatre, music and outdoor events in Ireland and abroad.
Recent productions: The Weir by Conor McPherson directed by Andrew Flynn (The Gaiety Theatre), The Kings of The Kilburn High Road by Jimmy Murphy directed by Padraic McIntyre (The Gaiety Theatre); Signatories at Kilmainham Gaol & The Olympia Theatre, directed by Patrick Mason (co-production with UCD), Hamlet & King Lear directed by Paul Meade, Hooked by Gillian Grattan (Dublin Theatre Festival), The Field by John B Keane (The Gaiety Theatre: Lane Productions) and Agrippinaby Handel for Irish Youth Opera (Dublin Fringe Festival at O’Reilly Theatre), the world premiere of The Unlucky Cabin Boy by Mike Finn Directed by Paul Meade (Gúna Nua); Foxy by Noelle Brown directed by Oonagh Murphy (Project Arts Centre);
Previous productions include, Brendan Behan’sBorstal Boy, directed by Conall Morrison with The Gaiety Theatre and Mollby John B Keane Directed by David Horan; The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down by Padraic McIntyre (Olympia Theatre), the World premiere of Anglo The Musical by Paul Howard at The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. My Brilliant Divorce by Geraldine Aron (Irish Tour); Solpadeine Is My Boyfriend by Stefanie Preissner at Brisbane Powerhouse (Australia), Dreamland by Jim Nolan (Garter Lane Waterford). 47 Roses by Peter Sheridan (Bewleys Café Theatre, Irish Tour & Waterloo East, London), Alone It Stands by John Breen (Olympia Theatre & Irish & UK Tour); Guerilla Days in Ireland (Olympia Theatre & Irish Tour)