11 Jun 2019

A Monster Calls Announces UK Tour

By Patrick Ness

From the novel, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd

An Old Vic production in association with Bristol Old Vic

Global Creatures and Jonathan Church Productions today announce the UK tour of A Monster Calls, an Old Vic production, in association with Bristol Old Vic, will be touring to 16 venues across the UK commencing in February 2020. Patrick Ness’s piercing novel is brought vividly to life in the Olivier Award-winning production by visionary director Sally Cookson. Further UK tour dates are to be announced andthe production will also play at the Kennedy Center, Washington, in Summer 2020.

‘Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?’

“A monster hit”
***** The Times

Thirteen-year-old Conor and his mum have managed just fine since his dad moved away. But now his mum is sick and not getting any better. His grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye. Then, one night, Conor is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking. It’s come to tell Conor tales from when it walked before. And when it’s finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears.

From the critically acclaimed bestseller, A Monster Calls offers a dazzling insight into love, life and healing. The book has sold over a million copies and garnered huge critical acclaim, including an unprecedented double win of the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals for outstanding children’s literature and illustration.

The UK tour of A Monster Calls will be providing an extensive outreach and engagement programme across the tour. This will include discussions, workshops, an education pack and participatory activities and events for local community groups and audiences addressing the widespread themes within the production. A Monster Calls will also be working in community partnership with CDI, a 41-year established youth information and advice counselling charity (croydondropin.org.uk), and Kooth (kooth.com), a free and anonymous online counselling and emotional wellbeing support service for children and young people available in many areas throughout the country. 

A Monster Calls was winner of the 2019 Best Entertainment and Family Olivier Award.  

Access performances including BSL, Audio Described, Captioned performances and Touch Tours will also be available across the tour.

Sally Cookson, Director, said“Being given the opportunity to adapt Patrick Ness’ beautiful book was a career highlight and I am thrilled to be able to bring it to life once more in a new touring production that will see it reach a wider audience. The story of thirteen-year-old Conor lost in a mire of anxiety and fear strikes a chord with anyone who’s been threatened with losing someone they love. The combination of gritty realism and magic make it perfect material for theatre. Despite packing an emotional punch, it is ultimately a show that brings together audience and actors to explore some of the harder aspects of being human, and find comfort collectively as the story unfolds.”

Patrick Ness, Writer, said “The stage production of A Monster Calls has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Not just the amazing way the show was created and performed, not that we won an Olivier (but that was pretty cool), but the audience reactions night after night.  The way people talk to me about the show is like nothing I’ve ever experienced: how moved they were, how blown away they were by the whole production. I am so thrilled that other parts of the country can have a chance to see it. The experience goes on; not just for me, but in memory of the amazing Siobhan Dowd.”

This adaptation is suitable for ages 10+.

The UK Tour of A Monster Calls is supported by Arts Council England through a National Lottery Project Grant award and The Touring Partnership.

Sally Cookson trained at LAMDA and worked as an actor for ten years before embarking on a freelance directing career. Her theatre credits include The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Leeds Playhouse); Jane Eyre and Peter Pan (Bristol Old Vic/National Theatre). She is an associate artist at Bristol Old Vic, where other productions include Sleeping Beauty, Treasure Island, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Papa Please Get the Moon for Me, Clown, Strange Case, Pericles, Pains of Youth and The Visit. Her numerous collaborations with Travelling Light theatre include Strictly Balti, The Ugly Duckling, Boing!, How Cold My Toes, Shadowplay, Cloudland, Lenny and Bob the Man on the Moon. Other theatre includes One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Cinderella – A Fairytale (Tobacco Factory Theatre, Olivier Award nomination); La Strada, Hetty Feather (Olivier Award nomination); We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (Kenny Wax Productions); Romeo and Juliet (The Rose Theatre); Stick Man and Tiddler (Scamp Theatre).

Siobhan Dowd was born in 1960 to Irish parents. Brought up in London, she started her career working in New York City for International PEN, where she lead the Rushdie Defence Committee and was named one of the ‘top 100 Irish-Americans’. On her return to the UK, Siobhan co-founded English PEN’s readers and writers program and went on to serve as Deputy Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Oxfordshire. Siobhan only started to write herself when she was invited to contribute a story to an anthology for children about racism. She went on to write four award-winning novels, celebrating the publication of A Swift Pure Cry and The London Eye Mystery but Bog Child and Solace of the Road were published posthumously. Waterstones had only just named her one of the top ‘25 Authors of the Future’. She died in April 2007 aged just 47.  In her final days Siobhan set up The Siobhan Dowd Trust to use the proceeds of her work to fund reading projects for children.

Patrick Ness is the multi-award-winning author of ten books for adults, young adults and children. A Monster Calls, inspired by an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd and which Patrick also adapted for the screen (2016, starring Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones), is published in forty-three languages. The first in his Chaos Walking trilogy is currently in post-production with director Doug Liman (Bourne Identity) and starring Tom Holland (Spiderman) and Daisy Ridley (Star Wars). Patrick has received numerous accolades for his writing, including the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and the Red House Book Award, and was the second ever author to win the Carnegie Medal twice and the first to win two years in succession. He created and wrote the 8-part BBC Doctor Who spinoff Class and as a screenwriter has written for Fox, Lionsgate, Heyday, Warner Brothers and Entertainment One. His latest book, And the Ocean Was Our Sky, was published to critical acclaim last year.

Director                            Sally Cookson

Writer in the Room           Adam Peck

Set Designer                    Michael Vale

Costume Designer           Katie Sykes     

Composer                        Benji Bower

Lighting                            Aideen Malone

Sound                              Mike Beer

Projection                        Dick Straker

Casting                            Jessica Ronane CDG

Movement                       Dan Canham