NEWS: Michael Morpurgo’s Billy The Kid for Digital Theatre

Digital Theatre today (22 February 2012) announces its first 2012 release to watch online or download to the desktop –Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning Billy the Kid.  Adapted for the stage by Tony Graham, Billy the Kid, is a heart‐warming story of football, war and dreams.  Revived at the Unicorn Theatre in September last year, set design is by Adam Wiltshire, with music composed by John Avery and lighting designed by Phil Clarke.  The cast is led by Dudley Sutton who reprises his role as Billy, and Sam Donovan who plays Sam.

Billy The Kid, recommended for children aged 8+ and their families, is available to pre-order now and will be released on Thursday 2 February at www.digitaltheatre.com. Education resources including exclusive interviews with cast and crew will also be made available at www.digitaltheatreplus.com.

The only thing Billy ever wanted to do was play for Chelsea and his dream came true when he was signed by the club to become a champion striker for the first team. But that was 1939 and with the outbreak of the Second World War, Billy’s life changed foreverThe story is told through the eyes of Billy as an elderly man, who lives with Sam’s parents but spends his days on the park bench.  Billy tells Sam about his past, his passion for football when he was a boy, and how he came to play for Chelsea. He recalls his memories from the War, when his life was turned upsidedown.

Michael Morpurgo said:  “I am delighted that the Unicorn’s production of Billy The Kid is now available to wider international audiences, and especially thrilled to be involved in Digital Theatre’s first downloadable production aimed at a younger audience.  I am excited that children, their families and readers of the book from all over the world will now have access to this wonderful production.”

Tony Graham said “I am thrilled with Digital Theatre’s filming of Billy The Kid.  Last year I re-staged this production with the original cast as my final show as Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre after 14 years at the helm.  What I love about the screen version is how it has managed to preserve its integrity which is a credit to the enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment of the Digital team.  Being able to watch actors close-up, while performing live in front of a theatre audience, is a real test of their authenticity.  We see things in this realisation that, frankly, no-one saw in the theatre version – it’s the same as the stage show, yet it also feels profoundly different.”

Multi Award-winning Michael Morpurgo is the author of over 100 books for children.  He was Britain’s Children’s Laureate from 2003-2005.  The stage adaptation of his book War Horse, a co-production of the National Theatre and Handspring Puppet Company, continues to play to sell-out audiences at the New London Theatre and won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Play following its opening on Broadway.

Billy The Kid is adapted and directed by Tony Graham who was Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre for fourteen years.  A purpose-built, state-of-the-art building, located on the south bank of the Thames, the Unicornis the national home of theatre for young audiences.  Purni Morell was appointed Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre in June 2011.  As well as creating their own productions, the Theatre hosts visits by some of the UK and world’s other great theatre companies for young people.

Robert Delamere and Tom Shaw launched Digital Theatre in 2009 and have recently celebrated the Company’s second birthday.  In that time the site has visits from over 150 countries worldwide.  With the support of Equity, BECTU and the Musicians Union, Digital Theatre produces theatre productions filmed in front of live audiences and are available to rent and stream online or purchase and download from www.digitaltheatre.com.                                                                        

Digital Theatre Plus is a unique online learning resource designed to deliver quality productions to schools, universities and libraries.  Bringing together the current production catalogue available through the Digital Theatre website, the resource also includes behind-the-scenes documentaries and graphic learning resources, enriching students’ cultural experience whilst facilitating the study of English, Drama and Theatre Studies.  www.digitaltheatreplus.com

Digital Theatre’s partner theatres are the Almeida Theatre Company, the Bush Theatre, English Touring Theatre, the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill, the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Exchange Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, theUnicorn Theatre and the Young Vic and has collaborated with West End producers Sonia Friedman Productions and Stanhope Productions.

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