Book Review: David Wood Plays

David Wood Plays for 5–12-Year-Olds (Edited by Paul Bateson)

At a glance
  • Five riveting plays from the National Children’s Dramatist full of substance, relevance, integrity and fun
  • Beautifully written with strong and fast-moving storylines that will entertain, educate and trigger imaginations
  • Ready-to-go plays with teaching notes to help you every step of the way
  • Suitable for KS1-3 play productions, drama groups and clubs

Plays written for children can be simplistic, patronising and unchallenging. But not in David Wood’s book they aren’t. There is no diluted content here, in fact the plays in his anthology weren’t originally written for children to perform but for adults to perform to children.

David Wood Plays for 5–12-Year-Olds cover

This is what makes this collection so deliciously disruptive because it shakes the snow globe a bit and turns things upside down. They remind us that the most important theatre is children’s theatre and for most children that starts in school and being part of a play.

The plays in this collection are The Gingerbread Man, The See-Saw Tree, The BFG, The Human and Mother Goose’s Golden Christmas and include themes that appeal to children such as fantasy, magic, humour, animals, injustice and a child protagonist.

The plays are based on stories that are already very strong in their own right but these have been expertly adapted with an inherent freedom to be produced and performed in lots of different ways.

As you would expect from the ‘undisputed master of children’s theatre’, the plays flow with fun, they brim over with energy and score 10/10 on the engagement scale.

They are full of what David Wood calls ‘suddenlies’ in that they are busy and challenging and designed to keep the children performing on their toes and the audience on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next.

The book is a creative collaboration and cleverly put together so you have all the information and materials you need for putting on a play with confidence.

Teaching notes are provided before each play and are written by an experienced drama teacher and signpost the intended age range, cast numbers and running time along with key details and tops tips about the characters.

A cast list with lead roles, dual roles and opportunities for extension or ensemble are given with suggestions for costumes and props, advice for staging, music, sound effects and lighting plus further considerations are factored in for extra support.

The cross-curricular lesson plans hit the spot because they don’t over-complicate things and offer brilliant notes on activities to engage and develop with main tasks that are appealing and achievable.

‘Doing’ a school play isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s requires nerves of steel, creativity and a can-do mindset along with plenty of guidance and support which this book will give you in abundance.

Wherever you stand on the teaching timeline, this book will suit novice directors, seasoned campaigners and all those in between.

As any primary teacher will know, putting on a play is exhausting but the payback is the sheer joy and electricity you get when children perform it to their families. David Wood Plays are here to help us experience the real magic of a school production and why they are actually quite addictive.

The music from the plays are all available via Concord Theatricals but the music isn’t essential to the success of the play.

If you want to put on something special then you’ve got to learn from the best and David Wood plays are definitely in a league of their own.

The verdict
  • Spirited and fun plays to increase self-confidence and self-achievement
  • Emotionally involving stories that make children care and hold their interest
  • Plays that respect children and offer them meaningful cultural experiences
  • Plays that foster curiosity, investigation, discovery, anticipation, persistence and initiation
  • An all-in-one playmaking resource with added stardust
Upgrade if….

You are looking for that extra bit of magic to make children laugh, cry and open their minds to new ideas and power their potential through theatrical storytelling.

Cost: £17.99

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