The Crowstarver (2006)

Based on the book by Dick King-Smith

2012 production details

Adaptor's Note

"Of all the books I’ve written, The Crowstarver is one of my favourites", Dick King-Smith told us as we sat by a crackling fire in his tiny cottage. Nikki, who is directing the show and I, who have adapted the book for the stage, had gone to visit him a month or two before rehearsals started.

We asked Dick what had inspired him to write The Crowstarver. He told us how he’d worked on a farm in Wiltshire as a young man just before the war. That farm is where he sets The Crowstarver. As he told us about the landscape there, the characters on the farm, the old, hard way of working the land, the names and habits of all the farm animals, a light shone in his eyes. It seemed he was seeing it all again in fresh, summer sunshine.

And who was the inspiration for the boy in his book, who was the real Spider Sparrow? "When I first came to this house in the Sixties," he said, "there were five dairy farms in this little hamlet alone. Now there’s not one. But then, the lane was always full of cows going to and from milking. Every day, there was a farmer’s son herding the cows back and forward. And you know the only conversation we ever had, rain or shine?"
"What?"
"'Good un!' he used to shout, cheerful as anything, 'Good un!' and so I’d reply 'Good un!' and we’d leave it at that."
"What became of him?"
"I don’t know. One day their farm was sold and they were gone. I’ve often wondered…"

So, Dick King-Smith put these two together - a boy and a world now long gone - to make The Crowstarver. Why is the combination so magical? Perhaps because we get to see Outoverdown Farm through Spider’s eyes – a special view of a special world. Spider has an extraordinary gift of connecting with the natural world. Dick King-Smith lets us be right with him when he whispers in the ear of a wild horse or feeds a fox from his hand. Somehow we feel lucky, as if we felt the fox delicately take the bread from our own hands.

Daniel Jamieson

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