“It’s hard to think of a more dramatic setting for drama than the Theatre by the Lake, surrounded as it is by snow-clad fells reflected in the tranquil Derwent Water. On a chilly December evening it’s also good to come inside to find some seasonal warmth, and Stephen Russell’s dramatisation of The Firework-Maker’s Daughter provides warmth in abundance.
The warmth doesn’t only come from the play’s tropical setting, amongst the Indonesian rainforests accompanied by gamalan orchestra. The cast throw themselves into the production with gusto. Vera Chok, in the lead, is a suitably feisty Lila (now what does that name remind me of?), the girl who scorns the idea of marrying a prince in the traditional pantomime way, and the irrepressible bounciness she puts into her quest for the secret of the perfect firework is infectious. Mitesh Soni is good as Lila’s humble but devoted admirer, but it’s Declan Wilson as her eternal foil, whether as elephant-master or inept pirate, who puts real fizz into the show every bit as much as the backstage crew who provide the pyrotechnics for the climactic firework competition and the simple but beautiful sets. Joanna Holden is also memorable, variously as a hapless pirate, hapless villager and a tyrant king who makes up in cruelty what she lacks in stature. And then there’s the elephant. How could one forget the elephant?
Philip Pullman is always a very theatrical novelist and The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, as with the earlier Count Karlstein, has its roots in a school play he wrote in his teaching days drawing on ancient folk tales. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the book makes the transition to the stage so seamlessly. It’s not only children who will find this a memorable Christmas show.”
You can book tickets at the Theatre By The Lake website.
The Fandom is a multi-fandom website where individuals can come together to celebrate all the fandoms they enjoy in one place. These include Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Star Wars, and of course….His Dark Materials (with newspost updates via us!). Check out all the fandoms here.
Check out their forums, tumblr, twitter, and facebook!
This month, we have this stunning giclee print of this cover of The Golden Compass, given to us by cover artist Eric Rohmann. It’s one of a limited edition of 300 and measures approximately 61 x 41cm (24 x 16 inches).
Entering this contest is simple, all you have to do is answer the following question.
What name did Iorek Byrnison give Lyra?
Send your entry in to us at email@example.com, with the subject line “December Contest” by 11:59pm GMT on the 26th of December. We’ll pick one lucky winner from the correct answers to win this great prize! This contest is open to everyone, good luck!
Last week I went to see the Birmingham Stage Company’s The Firework Maker’s Daughter, at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London. Thinking of going? Read on…
For those who haven’t read the book, the story tells of a girl called Lila, who dreams of becoming a firework-maker like her father. Her hopes are shattered when her father tells her it is no job for a girl. She sets out in secret for Mount Merapi in search of the elusive royal sulphur, facing pirates and supernatural creatures along the way – but must then return to save her imprisoned father with a firework display that must rival the best on earth…
The Birmingham Stage Company’s production delights with a creative set and spectacularly catchy music that you won’t be able to get out of your head. Lila’s magical adventure is brought to life in an explosive and colourful show that will keep you waiting for that final firework display.
Last year, Pullman said about the Birmingham Stage Company’s production:
“What a great cast! What musical talent as well as charm and stage presence! I’m delighted with everything about it.”
The show is on in London at the Bloomsbury Theatre from the 14th of December to the 21st of January. You can get tickets via the Box Office (020 7388 8822) or book online at www.thebloomsbury.com
Live a bit further north and still want to see a production? We’ll have a review of The Firework Maker’s Daughter production on at The Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, Cumbria, (on until the 6th of January) in just a few days…
A charming and explosive adventure! Set in the tropical jungle of Indonesia, this is the story of young Lila and her quest to discover the secrets of the Firework-Maker’s craft. With her father’s life hanging in the balance she must undertake a perilous journey to volcanic Mount Merapi. Lila has to face pirates, spirits and the terrifying Fire-Fiend, but she is helped by her best friend Chulak and a lovable and resourceful white elephant called Hamlet.
Tickets for the show go from £10 to £22.50. They are available for purchase here.
All you have to do to enter our December contest is answer the following question:
What name did Iorek Byrnison give Lyra?
Send your entry in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “December Contest” by 11:59pm GMT on the 26th of December. We'll pick one lucky winner from the correct answers to win this great prize! This contest is open to everyone, good luck!
Eric Rohmann is an author and illustrator of books for young readers. You can check out more of his work on his website. And if you don't win the contest, you can buy this limited edition print for $275.00, plus shipping and handling.
“The brave-hearted girl Lyra and the wary Pan”
He wins a paperback copy of the latest UK edition of Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ! Thanks for all your entries. If you entered but didn’t win, then please accept our heartfelt commiserations. Unfortunately, you may have noticed that there is no November contest this month. But don’t worry, there’ll be one next month with a very special prize, so watch this space!
The day will be “a chance for users to compare notes, find out more about the issues confronting them and produce some proposals for future action both locally and nationally”; according to organisers.
The event will at the University of London Union on Malet Street, London. Registration is £15. (email:email@example.com).
When you were writing His Dark Materials, did you randomly take objects from your environment and make them meaningful, or did you take places that meant something and make them stand out? I have tried to write a novel myself and it just sounded incredibly stilted. - Craig
PP: I don’t think there was anything random about it. Either I chose things because they were meaningful already (such as Iorek Byrnison’s name – it had to be Nordic, of course) or things that just appeared to me turned out to be full of meaningful connections later one (such as the idea of dæmons).
As for finding your writing stilted, don’t worry about that. Just keep going. Your own style will develop the more you write.
Do you have extensive experience in dealing with adolescents/ teens? The ability to connect with that age group is singular and really only found in the best authors. Do you use your own children/ grandchildren as a model or do you actually drop back into that feeling yourself? - Craig
PP: I did teach children of Lyra’s age for twelve years, so I suppose I was familiar with the sort of thing they were interested in. it’s not so easy using your own children for that sort of research, because they grow up so quickly. Teaching is better, because every year there’s a new lot of twelve-year-olds or whatever. And there’s my own memory, which as I grow older becomes more and more important to me.
Why is the name of Lyra’s dæmon “Pantalaimon”? I know, that “Pan” means “all” in greek and “Eleimon” means “merciful”. So is it correct, that the name should be “Allways merciful” – if so, why? It doesn’t seem to me, that Pan is more merciful than the others. Or is it just because you liked the name of St. Panteleimon? – Alex
PP: I didn’t know anything about St Pantaleimon. I just knew that that would be his name. I suppose I just liked the sound of it. Perhaps that’s one of those things that turn out to be meaningful later on (like the answer to the question above).
Clearly parents name a child, but who names the child’s daemon? – Lincoln
PP: The parents’ dæmons, of course.
Exeter College in Oxford is the basis for Jordan College, in Lyra’s Oxford. Exeter has its own logo, does Jordan College have its own logo/coat of arms? If not, what would you consider its logo should represent? – nanaki
PP: Well, firstly, it wouldn’t be called a logo. It would be a coat of arms. If I had to design a coat of arms for Jordan College, I suppose one element of it might be a representation of a river (for the river Jordan). Then I’d have to think about who founded the college, and when, and in what circumstances, and work out how to represent those things, if they were important.
Do you watch Doctor Who, and if so how would you go about writing an episode for it? – Peter
PP: I do sometimes, but I don’t know enough about it to write an episode. Anyway I prefer to work with my own characters than with someone else’s.
Are there any plans for an adaptation of The Tiger in the Well? – Ronni
PP: Not at the moment. There was a script that someone wrote to follow the BBC productions of The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, but I wasn’t happy with it. Nor did I like the first two enough to be very keen to see them do a third. All in all, I was disappointed. But there we are.
Stay tuned for our October contest, coming soon!
We’re looking for creativity, not a question he’s been asked a million times before. You can send up to three questions to us. We’ll pick our favourite from all of your suggestions, and Pullman will answer it for us!
Send your question(s) in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “September Contest” by 11:59pm GMT on the 17th of September. This contest is open to everyone. Good luck!
In The Golden Compass, Pullman subverts our notions of innocence by first showing children’s innocence not as guiltless, but rather as uncouth, even feral—as the absence of knowledge and of culture rather than the presence of purity, love, or virtue. Lyra, the spirited heroine, is described initially as “a coarse and greedy little savage,” a “half-wild cat.” [...] And although adults may see children’s play as “pleasant,” “innocent and charming,” children are actually just as political as their elders: Lyra is part of a “rich seething stew of alliances and enmities and feuds and treaties”; as leader of her own gang of children affiliated with Jordan College, she leads the others in “deadly warfare,” delighting in physical combat and tactical victories. In her leadership ability, her physical courage, and her rhetorical power, Lyra possesses the same qualities as her parents, Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, and has similar power to influence the people around her for good and ill. Being a child makes her no more inherently moral or immoral than any of the other individuals in the series.
Since its publication, His Dark Materials has been published in 39 languages and has had a whole variety of cover designs. From the widely recognised alethiometer, to the somewhat creepy depiction of Will and the golden monkey, to the detailed Croatian The Amber Spyglass (which I can only assume contains Daleks in place of angels) – the cover art of the trilogy has varied widely. We want you to tell us your favourites: comment on this post, tweet us, facebook us, or post in our forum thread!
Designer Helen Crawford-White of Crush Creative answered BridgeToTheStars.net’s questions about just what it’s like to redesign the covers for such a well-known series of books.
( Click here to see what she told us! )
From the time he was three or four years old, John Elder Robison realised that he was different from other people. He was unable to make eye contact or connect with other children, and by the time he was a teenager his odd habits – an inclination to blurt out non-sequiturs, obsessively dismantle radios or dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother in them) – had earned him the label ‘social deviant’. It didn’t help that his mother conversed with light fixtures and his father spent evenings pickling himself in sherry.
Look Me in the Eye is his story of growing up with Asperger’s syndrome at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. Along the way it also tells the story of two brothers born eight years apart yet devoted to each other: the author and his younger brother Chris, who would grow up to become bestselling author Augusten Burroughs.
This book is a rare fusion of inspiration, dark comedy and insight into the workings of the human mind. For someone who has struggled all his life to connect with other people, Robison proves to be an extraordinary storyteller.
Any member of the forum can see the Book Club sub-forum, but to nominate and vote on future books you have to be a member. To join the book club you can either private message Moderator Bee who runs the Club, or go to User Control Panel > Usergroups tab > select Book Club Members, and click join.
You can buy the book here on amazon.co.uk, here on amazon.com and here on Kindle.
The group, whose signatories include Greg Dyke, former director general of the BBC, says that 1,000 citizens should be selected at random to sit on a public jury that will propose reforms to banking, politics. The jury, to be funded from the public purse, would examine:
* Media ownership.
* The financial sector’s role in the crash.
* MP selections and accountability.
* Policing and public interest.
* How to apply a “public interest first” test more generally to British political and corporate life.
To support the call for a People’s Jury for the British Public Interest go to www.compassonline.org.uk
Over at our weekly forum thread we’ll be talking about the human/daemon relationship. Come and join us! Also, be sure to check out this week’s lovely banner (above), and click it to see the image it’s taken from!
contains the final clue for our August Contest, so get entering! The prize is a signed copy of The Amber Spyglass!
If you need some help, you can check out our Mark Reads gallery which contains all of the MarkReads banners to date. Send your entry in to us at email@example.com, with the subject line “August Contest” by 11:59pm GMT on the 21st of August. The contest is open to everyone. Good luck!
At the event, he read from his newest novel The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, talked with local author Maggie Gee, and answered audience questions.
Pullman has been incredibly outspoken about the library closures in Britain and recently managed a win against his own council of Oxfordshire, who decided to defer their plans to close 20 out of their 40 libraries to save money.
To find out more about the campaign to save Brent’s libraries, visit their website. They have a short interview with Pullman before the event, here.