Michael Morpurgo – A Charismatic Gentleman

Books are probably one of the greatest forms of art we have on our planet. Yes, they may have black and white text, may not even have pictures and may actually look quite dull from the outside. The fact is though, books are a feat only a handful can accomplish successfully. The process of thinking, the process of developing a story that hits on an emotional level and process of creating a book that takes the reader into a magical world full of imagery is something that takes true skill.

We know of such writers. J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Margaret Atwood to name a few. However, this post is about a writer who truly redefines what writing is all about. His name is Michael Morpurgo. Until recent years, he has been a mystery to much of the world. Another writer, with significant works, lost in the gigantic realm of writers. That was until 2007 when playwright Nick Stafford along with directors Tom Morris & Marianne Elliott brought the story of War Horse back to life on stage first in South Bank and then on the West End Theatre front. After 25 years, since the books first publication in 1982, the story of War Horse had been mastered into a Theatre production that no one had ever experienced. With the use of puppets, sound & story, War Horse redefined what Theatre was all about.

However, everything that is adapted has a source and that source is quite magical. As first said, the story of War Horse was published in 1982 and is a childrens book. The creation of the book itself is an interesting story. Mr. Morpurgo spent over a year talking with people who were a part of the war, traveling to different parts of Europe to understand the war & even connect with personal stories. The level of research is evident in the writing when you can truly picture yourself in the times of war and understand the different mixes of story and imagery. War Horse is not just a book, its an experience from a perspective. It will move you in a way that is indescribable. Knowing that the tale you are reading actually happened, where bonds of friendship were created and truly lived by is something you can personally connect to.

Why, though, is this piece entitled “a charismatic gentleman”. Its because of the writer he truly is. He connects with his writing, rather than simply putting pen to paper. He was in Toronto for a conversation with his friend and War Horse colleague John Tams at the Panasonic Theatre and he shared with us personal stories including one of his father, acclaimed stage actor Tony Van Bridge. He shared how he wasn’t really a Morpurgo but was a “Bridge” and he had alot of respect for his father and wished he was here today to see the play.

The one thing though that stands out of all things from the conversation was the power in his words. The one thing he said that can never be forgotten; he shared a piece of advice that acclaimed writer Ted Hughes shared with him in regards to writing; Speak it, not just write it. This showcases what writing should always be: One from the heart, one that you want to share. Genuine. Honest. Powerful.

Michael Morpurgo is an Englishman with a true desire to share stories that we can connect with. The thing that hits us personally is a powerful story, one that we can share and talk about. Without a powerful story, nothing is really worth talking about. War Horse will move you no matter what your age is and I urge individuals to definitely revisit the books before you see the movie or the theatre adaptation.

War Horse plays Mirvish’s Princess of Wales Theatre from February 10th 2012. For tickets, please visit www.mirvish.com/shows/warhorse. To Purchase the book, please visit any fine bookstore near you.