Our Prologue Ambassadors took a trip up to London last week to drop in on rehearsals for the UK tour of A Monster Calls! We got to hear from Director Sally Cookson, who told us about her personal journey with the story. A friend recommended Patrick Ness’s book to her and she devoured it over a weekend.
“I instantly knew that I wanted to turn it into a piece theatre. It packs such an emotional punch. It’s a story that celebrates stories, but it also gets under the skin of what we do as a society when it comes to talking about important stuff – which is close up. And it’s also such a beautiful, fantastical, magical story as well, it’s got all the elements I love.”Sally Cookson
She was heartbroken to discover that the theatre rights were not available – but continued to carry her copy of Ness’s book around with her. About a year and a half later, Matthew Warchus – Artistic Director of the Old Vic – invited her in to discuss making a show. He showed her a list of potential books to adapt – and top was A Monster Calls. Sally said she reached into her bag, and pulled out her battered copy, and the decision was made.
This tour is being done by an entirely new cast and they’ve been hard at work rehearsing the incredibly physical show. We were lucky enough to watch them perform a couple of scenes from Act Two and were blown away by the ensemble work.
We also got to chat to them afterwards and hear about how they’ve been getting on with the play. They talked about how they’ve all got a background in physical theatre or dance and that the Movement Director Dan Canham encourages them to let the movements come organically from the emotion, rather than forcing their body to do anything that feels unnatural. And that their knee pads are an important part of their rehearsal wardrobe!
It was really interesting to hear about the work they’ve been doing as a company to look after their mental health as the play deals with some difficult themes, such as grief and bullying. They’ve got a mental health first aider who’s travelling with them, and for audiences there are resources and workshops available alongside the show. Why not check out our Mental Health and Wellbeing Workshop with Wanda Canton?
It was fantastic to get some sneak peeks of what to expect and another successful Prologue on Tour day for the Ambassador team!
“It was such a good experience and it gave me a lot of valuable insight into the industry and what it takes to be a performer.”Rebecca, Prologue Social Media Ambassador