The theatre world on why Roald Dahl is so great
To celebrate Roald Dahl day, we asked actors and directors currently working on Dahl stage adaptations what they love most about the king of children's writing
Jonathan Slinger, who plays Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
"Roald Dahl's unparalleled ability to create stories, worlds and characters with such three dimensional imagination and vivid relish makes him perfect as a springboard for any theatre or film practitioner. He is the Shakespeare of children's literature."
Lizzy Dive, who plays Mrs Twit in Dinner at the Twits
"The different worlds and characters Roald Dahl creates are juicy, meaty, dark, grotesque, beautiful, heart pounding, moving, uplifting, terrifying, imaginative, 360 degrees and tap into something within a child's mind like no other writer can. He gets right into your psyche, has a good dig around, a merry jig and leaves an enormous stamp that will live with you for all time. The Twits, without a doubt, was my favourite book as a child and to be playing Mrs Twit now is a dream come true. "
Craige Els, who plays Miss Trunchbull in Matilda
"I love Dahl because he is the ultimate children's story teller, and always strikes the perfect balance between fun, and fear. He can write the most outrageous and silly characters, and scenarios, but also doesn't shy away from darker themes, people or situations. He makes his stories funny and entertaining, but keeps you on the edge of your seat. Even as an adult you can still enjoy Dahl's clever tales, and the weird and wonderfully real worlds he created."
Jasna Ivir, who plays Mrs Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
"Roald Dahl is such a precise observer of life, in all its facets, that when he then brilliantly mixes raw reality with fantastical elements in his story telling, it always takes me right back to my childhood, during which I constantly enjoyed imagining things. Now as an adult performer, I am grateful to be able to portray the character of Mrs Gloop on stage and feel slightly guilty for eating all the sausages. Thank you Roald Dahl for your phenomenal creativity and inspirational mind which was infinite. Sheer, pure imagination."
Rebecca Thornhill, who plays Mrs Wormwood in Matilda
"Each character Roald Dahl writes has their own language. He opens us up to a world of inner thoughts, defence mechanisms, frustrations, a person's ignorance or strength. It's an absolute delight for an actor to play with. His writing is something that children all over the world can relate to and has the ability to transport us adults back to our childhood memories."
Nikolai Foster, director of The Witches
"My love and appreciation of Roald Dahl's work has grown as I've got older. As a child, I would completely lose myself in the astonishingly vivid worlds he created; as an adult, the imaginary places are still as scrumdiddlyumptious to visit, but that is now matched with a greater understanding of the injustices around us and the challenges so many children and young people face, which underpins his canon of work. Dahl's work is inherently theatrical and as a director, really does offer limitless possibilities."
Miria Parvin, who plays Miss Honey in Matilda
"Roald Dahl's books are dark, naughty, outrageously funny, magical and they tug at the heartstrings all at the same time. Everything is fantastical and larger than life. To quote the man himself: "Lukewarm is no good". He truly was a master of passionate storytelling."
Michael Begley, who plays Mr Wormwood in Matilda
"As a child, I enjoyed his relish of the foul and the disgusting. He's always very vivid. Never boring. Now I have children of my own, I'm moved by his views on parenting. I think he saw it as a sacred bond that is rarely honoured. He urges children to transcend their situation, no matter how extreme or hopeless. And dares parents to allow their offspring to save them."
Kraig Thornber, who plays Grandpa George in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
"Roald Dahl has always been a part of my life, from reading Matlilda and James and the Giant Peach aged seven to now playing Grandpa George in my 50s. His appeal for me has always been his penchant for the twisted and sinister, the way he loves to send his readers into scary places whilst always keeping them amused. Happy birthday Mr Dahl and thank you.
Chris Barlow, currenly playing Mr Twit in Dinner at the Twits
"Roald Dahl creates stories and worlds that are not only imaginative and magical but also at times dark, cruel and very, very funny. He doesn't sugarcoat or patronise children. He gives children a little glance of the real world through a window of hope and fun. As a child, reading a Dahl felt a bit naughty and exciting like trying coffee or sipping your dad's beer. I loved The Witches, The Revolting Rhymes and of course The Twits the most."
Sarah Ingram, who plays the High Witch in The Witches
"I love his writing because he not only creates beautiful moral fables but also unique and extreme worlds that allow the characters to live in total Technicolor splendour!"
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory runs at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane until 2 January 2017.
Matilda runs at the Cambridge Theatre until 15 October 2017.
The Witches runs at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 2 December to 21 January.
Dinner at the Twits runs at the Vaults until 30 October