The newly created Children's Touring Partnership presents its inaugural show next spring: the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Michelle Magorian's stunning novel Goodnight Mister Tom in a brand new adaptation for the stage by David Wood, the UK's "National Children's Dramatist" (The Times). Oliver Ford Davies plays the title role. This UK tour will visit 14 venues across the country from 2 February to 14 May with many of the theatres staging extra matinee performances for school parties. This new production marks the 30th anniversary of the novel and is its first non-musical stage adaptation.
Set during the dark and dangerous build-up to the Second World War, Goodnight Mister Tom follows the sad William Beech, who is evacuated to the idyllic English countryside and builds a remarkable and moving friendship with the elderly recluse Tom Oakley. All seems perfect until William is devastatingly summoned by his mother back to London. A tale of two broken souls at very different ends of the age scale, Goodnight Mister Tom celebrates the value of love and proves that friendship knows no barriers.
Goodnight Mister Tom, first published in the UK in 1981, is an enduring classic for both children and adults alike and has sold in excess of 1.2 million copies in the UK alone. As well as being a world-wide favourite, the BAFTA award-winning TV film of the book starring John Thaw attracted 14 million viewers making it one of the best loved stories of its generation. The book has won many awards including The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 1981, was commended for the Carnegie Medal and in 2005 was voted amongst the top 100 books in the BBC's Big Read.
The Children's Touring Partnership is a new producing partnership led by independent producer Fiery Angel, the Chichester Festival Theatre and a consortium of major regional theatres. The Partnership seeks to tour imaginative and bold theatre of the highest quality, with a particular emphasis on producing work nationwide for children aged eight years and above. The Partnership will be linking theatre to education through a variety of events, workshops and talks. With support from Arts Council England, Goodnight Mister Tom is the Partnership's first production.
Fiery Angel's Edward Snape commented on behalf of the Children's Touring Partnership: "It is exciting to see so much support for this unique venture. Whilst there has been an enormous amount of younger work available for children on stage especially for the pre-school audiences, this is the first national tour where the Arts Council, regional theatres and producers have all come together to work as a consortium in filling a much needed gap for older audiences. This is a challenging piece of drama and especially when one considers that our two leading actors will be separated in age by at least sixty years. "
Chichester Festival Theatre's Artistic Director, Jonathan Church, said: "We welcome the opportunity to be part of this great new initiative offering high quality theatre for young people. We are delighted to commission this new production directed by Chichester Associate Angus Jackson, and look forward to opening Goodnight Mister Tom at Chichester before it embarks on a national tour."
Goodnight Mister Tom is directed by Angus Jackson with design by Robert Innes Hopkins and lighting design by Tim Mitchell.
Writer Michelle Magorian was born in Hampshire. As a child she spent as much time as possible in the King's Theatre in Portsmouth and her ambition was always to go on the stage. Michelle studied drama, including some time studying mime in Paris. From there she launched into a professional acting career and spent a few years touring all over the country. Besides acting, Michelle had always enjoyed writing and she wrote Goodnight Mister Tom inspired by her mother's tales about her time as a nurse in the Second World War. Michelle's latest novel, Just Henry, won the Costa Award for children's fiction in 2008.