Running Wild Tour

Jan 6 2017 | By More

Morpurgo tale set for King’s

A play based on Running Wild, Michael Morpurgo’s version of the true story of how a child escaped the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami on the back of an elephant, is coming to the King’s Theatre in May.

The novel, by the former children’s laureate and author of War Horse, is adapted by Samuel Adamson with direction by Timothy Sheader and Dale Rooks. It uses life-size puppets to tell its emotional and moving story of love, loss and living for the moment.

Ava Potter as Lilly with Oona in the 2016 production. Photo Johan Persson

Running Wild tells of Lilly who is on holiday with her mother in Indonesia. During a beach-side elephant ride, Oona, the elephant, suddenly becomes anxious and runs deep into the jungle with Lilly on her back. Moments later, a tsunami hits the island.

Miles from civilisation, at first there’s wonder, discovery and tree-top adventures with the orangutans. But, as thoughts turn to her mother left behind on the beach and wild tigers prowl, hunger hits and Lilly must now learn to survive in the rainforest.

Originally produced by Regent’s Park Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre, this epic production is suitable for over six year-olds. It will play the King’s from Tuesday 2 to Saturday 6 May, 2017. The 15 date tour opens in Chichester in February running to Wolverhampton in June.

hope amid the destruction

Morpurgo novel was inspired by the real-life story of Amber Owen, who was on holiday in Phuket with her mother and stepfather in 2004, when she went on an elephant ride. While riding Ning Nong along the beach, the eight-year-old noticed the elephant was attempting to pull away from the receding sea water.

The 2016 production. Photo Johan Persson

“He ran away and, as the water came in, I was safely on his back. He saved my life.” When he read Amber’s story in the newspaper, Michael Morpurgo said it was the one bit of hope amid the destruction of the Boxing Day tsunami which hit South East Asia. The production will work to support the Born Free Foundation’s global elephant conservation projects.

The lead role of Lilly will be shared by three young actresses, Jemima Bennett, India Brown and Annika Whiston. Dad/Red Bandana will be played by Kazeem Toisin Amore, Grandma by Liz Crowther, Mahout/Kaya by Stephen Hoo. Dr Geraldine by Corinna Powlesland, Mr Anthony by Jack Sandle and Mum will be played by Balvinder Sopal.

The puppeteers will be Darcy Collins (Frank, the baby orangutan), Romina Hytten (orangutan Mani Head), Fred Davis (Mani Body), Elisa de Grey (elephant Oona Trunk), James Charlton (Oona Head), Michael Peters (Oona Heart), and Wela Mbusi (Oona Hind), with Gareth Aled and Scarlet Wilderink as alternate puppeteers.

Links and Listings

Running Wild website:
Facebook: RunningWildLive
Twitter: @runningwildlive

Buy the original novel on Amazon:

Running Wild on tour:
Fri 10 – Sat 18 Feb Chichester
Festival Theatre
01243 781312 Book online
Wed 22 – Sat 25 Feb Coventry
Belgrade Theatre
024 7655 3055 Book online
Tue 7 – Sat 11 Mar Sheffield
Lyceum Theatre
0114 249 6000 Book online
Tue 14 – Sat 18 Mar High Wycombe
Wycombe Swan
01494 512 000 Book online
Wed 22 – Sat 25 Mar London
Hackney Empire
020 8985 2424 Book online
Tue 4 – Sat 8 Apr Blackpool
Grand Theatre
02153 290190 Book online
Tue 11 – Sat 15 Apr Leeds
West Yorkshire Playhouse
0113 213 7700 Book online
Tue 18 – Sat 22 Apr Salford
The Lowry
0843 208 6000 Book online
Tue 25 – Sat 29 Apr Norwich
Theatre Royal
01603 630000 Book online
Tue 2 – Sat 6 May Edinburgh
King’s Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
Tue 9 – Sat 13 May Newcastle
Theatre Royal
0844 811 2121 Book online
Tue 16 – Sat 20 May Plymouth
Theatre Royal
01752 267222 Book online
Tue 23 – Sat 27 May Northampton
Royal & Derngate
01604 624811 Book online
Wed 31 May – Sat 3 Jun Canterbury
The Marlowe Theatre
01227 787787 Book online
Tue 6 – Sat 10 Jun Wolverhampton
Grand Theatre
01902 429 212 Book online


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