Interview: Michael Morpurgo – 'I really didn't think it was adaptable for the stage, but it was magical'

Running Wild: Michael Morpurgo's exciting and moving novel hits the stage

credit: Dan Tsantilis

Morpurgo's exciting and moving novel, Running Wild, hits the stage

There was no shortage of tragic stories after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but one remarkable tale which emerged was of eight-year-old holidaymaker Amber Owen. Riding an elephant along the beach in Phuket, shortly before disaster struck, she found herself heading inland as the animal beneath her instinctively fled to safety. Inspired by her tale, Michael Morpurgo published his exciting, yet deeply poignant, children's novel Running Wild to great acclaim five years later. And now, that book has been adapted for the stage, using a combination of actors and life-sized puppets created by the same team behind War Horse.

'I really didn't think it was adaptable for the stage,' says Morpurgo. 'But I thought I'd let them get on with it, which they did. I was a bit apprehensive about seeing it, but it was enchanting, absolutely magical.' In Morpurgo's novel, the lead character is a young boy, for which the author blames his 'faulty memory' having misremembered the news story. So for the stage production, the character is once again a girl, and Amber herself has given the show the seal of approval.

'I met Amber, who is now in her 20s, when Running Wild was performed at Regent's Park open air theatre,' says Morpurgo. 'Her and her family's experience was incredible and I know they were moved when they saw the show.'

King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 2–Sat 6 May.

Running Wild

  • Directed by: Timothy Sheader, Dale Rooks
  • Written by: Samuel Adamson (adapt), Michael Morpurgo (book)

Samuel Adamson's adaptation of the novel by Michael Morpurgo about a young girl on holiday in in Indonesia when a tsunami hits. Featuring fantastic puppets designed by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié (War Horse).

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