World Day 2013 Message from Michael Morpurgo, a writer

'Shakespeare once wrote 'The play's the thing.....' And he was right, but not entirely right, actually! The story's the thing, and the play is simply the most powerful way of telling it.

I discovered why only the other day. I went to meet the new cast of the play of 'War Horse' (a story that has been both a book and a film of course). Around me as I told stories of Devon and farming and the First World War, were 40 or so actors coming together for the first time to make a play. So not one person telling a tale (which is what I usually do) but a huge company bringing heart and soul and all their considerable emotional energy, their intellect and acting talents to make a show that will entrance and horrify, rock audiences to laughter, move them to tears. Every show (and they will play to tens of thousands of children and young people), they will endeavour to make unforgettable.

The power of theatre, whether for young or old, lies in the collaboration of stories and ideas, the actors (and everyone back stage too of course) and most importantly the audience - we all make the play together, live it together, suspending disbelief together, bound in the same imaginative endeavour.

For young people, coming to the theatre for the first time, the effect is electrifying, utterly compelling. It is live in front of their eyes, the story, the spectacle, the music, the lighting, the movement, the sound, the actors.  Such an experience can change young lives. It informs and enriches us all.'

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Michael Morpurgo

has written over one hundred books and won many awards. In 1976 Michael and his wife Clare started the charity Farms For City Children, which aims to relieve the poverty of experience of young children from inner city and urban areas. In 1999 they were awarded the MBE for their work in creating these farms and in 2006 Michael received an OBE.

His novel War Horse has been adapted into a hugely successful and critically acclaimed West End play, and a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Michael is a tireless champion for children's books and was formerly the Children's Laureate. Loved by children, teachers and parents alike, Michael Morpurgo has won the Whitbread Award, the Smarties Award, the Circle of Gold Award, the Children's Book Award and has been short-listed for the Carnegie Medal four times.