War Horse UK Premiere: Leicester Square in London

War Horse made its UK Premiere in the famous Leicester Square in London on 8th January 2012… a very royal and exciting premiere.

The much anticipated premiere of Steven Spielberg’s new film War Horse was held in aid of the princes’ charity, The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry.

Among those who walked the red carpet were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Spielberg, hundreds of military members along with their family, the cast, renowned author Michael Morpurgo, script writer Richard Curtis and even the star of the film – Joey the horse. Spielberg was very excited to be honoured to have a royal premiere, this being the first one for the Duke and Duchess though having previously had royal premieres with the Queen and the Queen Mother.

The film’s talented cast includes Niels Arestrup, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Toby Kebbell, David Kross, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis and Emily Watson.  Newcomer Jeremy Irvine said, “I am a little bit overwhelmed. It feels like a long way from home.” 

The film is an adaptation from Morpurgo’s 1982 novel about a boy named Albert who tries to track down his beloved horse, Joey, who has been shipped to France to serve in the First World War. Morpurgo tells the heartfelt story through Joey’s eyes. It’s a beautiful story that has already been successfully told on stage when it opened at the National Theatre in 2007. Following two understandably sold-out seasons at the NT, War Horse is now playing at the New London Theatre to sold-out crowds. A movie would be the next plausible step taking the realness of this memorable and touching story to the next level.

The play which already transferred to Broadway has won five Tony Awards and the film which was released in North America last month is seen to be a contender for the upcoming Oscars.

Michael Morpurgo was interviewed on the Red Carpet. He asked what took them so long to make the movie and then stated it was just luck really. He mentioned how most books either don’t get published or if they do, they don’t last.  His own book sat on the back of shelves unread for 25 years until the National Theatre decided to make a play of it using puppets! This is seen by Spielberg’s producer and voilà, a couple years later War Horse is made into a spectacular movie.  Morpurgo said the whole thing was ‘wonderfully ridiculous’. While he hopes it’s a beautiful story about the friendship between a boy and a horse, he doesn’t want the rest to be forgotten… how 10 million soldiers worldwide lost their lives in World War I and nearly as many horses. Whilst Morpurgo loves ‘all of this’, he remains sincerely considerate of the feelings of the families who lost loved ones in war.

War Horse will likely march on for many years to come and continue to touch the hearts of many fans.

Michael Morpurgo said:

What took them so long?  It’s lucky, it’s luck.  Most books don’t get published, when they get published, they don’t last the course, my book sat on the back of the shelf, not read for 25 years.  Then National Theatre thinks they’ll make a play of it with puppets and it’s just this wonderfully iconic production that Spielberg’s producer sees and thinks it’d be a good movie and here we are.  The whole thing is ridiculous but wonderfully ridiculous. 

Not impressed with the budget. In a sense, it’s terrible that this book could ever be written.  That war killed 10 million soldiers worldwide and nearly as many horses killed.  In a way all this is lovely but at the end of the day, this is what has to be remembered.  As a result there are young men who never became fathers and young men who never became grandfathers.  He hopes it’s a beautiful story about a friendship between a boy and a horse but the background is really, really important.

Whilst he loves all of this and all this is great (show & film), he treads softly on the memories of the families who lost people in the war.

Book tickets for War Horse at New London Theatre!

WICKED Young Writers’ Award

The smash hit West End musical WICKED launches a new educational award today (Monday 22 February 2010) to recognise excellence in writing, encourage creativity and help develop writing talent in young people nationwide. Spearheaded by bestselling author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, the WICKED Young Writers’ Award is the first of its kind to seek entries from young writers between 5 and 25 years old across all backgrounds and areas of the UK.

Michael Morpurgo will be joined on the judging panel by Gregory Maguire, author of the acclaimed novel that inspired the musical that re-imagines the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. Michael Morpurgo said: ‘I hope the award will bring the passion and energy of WICKED’s amazing theatrical show and its ability to reach across age-ranges and backgrounds, to young people and their writing. With the encouragement of their teachers and families and the excitement of this kind of challenge, we will see original and creative writing coming through from children of all backgrounds and abilities. Let’s hope that many, many young people will be encouraged to begin their own storytelling journeys’.

Entries for the WICKED Young Writers’ Award will be sought from children across the UK and Northern Ireland who will then be separated into four categories in between the ages of 5-16: 5-7, 8-10, 11-13 and 14-16. An individual Gregory Maguire Award for 17-25 year-olds will encourage writing that, in the same style as Gregory Maguire’s WICKED novels, takes a well-known story and examines it from a different perspective.

Young people can enter pieces either written at home or at school on a theme or subject of their choice. Schools will be encouraged to enter writing on behalf of their pupils through an online Teachers’ Resource and schools’ entry form. Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of WICKED, said in a statement: ‘Through sponsorship of a Young Writers’ Award, I am extremely keen to be able to link the production’s important messages of tolerance and unprejudiced thinking with a competition designed to stir the imaginations of young people across the country’

Twenty winners will be chosen from every category, with one overall winner then selected from each. All of the winners will be invited to a special autumn ceremony held at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, where WICKED is currently being performed. Each of the winning entries will then be published in an anthology celebrating the 2010 WICKED Young Writers’ Award. An overall winner from each of the categories will win tickets to see WICKED with their family and a writing master-class from one of the esteemed judges. The two schools that encourage the most entries will win books for their respective libraries. The final date for entries is Saturday 31 July 2010.

Schools and individuals can download entry forms and find tips on entering the WICKED Young Writers’ Award at www.wickedyoungwriters.com