Lyric life

Father Christmas: 8 Questions with Writer and Director Emma Earle

We caught up with the Writer and Director to find out how she took the wonderful story from page to stage.

1. How did you come up with the idea to adapt Raymond Briggs’ illustrated novel into a play?

We first came up with the idea in 2011. It was one of my favourite books as a child and I thought a grumpy Father Christmas who potters around a terraced house doing ordinary things like snoozing in front of the TV and even going to the toilet, would make a great alternative to the ho-ho-ho-ing Father Christmas we’re used to seeing in department stores.

2. What’s the funniest part about directing the show?

Probably giving direction about how to act having a poo! Or discussing what the “plops” should sound like! I also love working on the bit where Father Christmas gets stuck in the chimney to see what funny shapes we can make.

3. What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

Now I’m a grown up, my favourite thing is sharing it all with my two children Dottie and Barnaby. Barnaby has recently turned two and this will be his first year watching the show. I can’t wait to see his reaction.

4. What elements – if any, have you drastically changed in the stage version from the original novel?

For the most part we stick really closely to the picture book but there are lots of ideas we’ve expanded upon. There’s a section in the book where we see Father Christmas trying to deliver presents to lots of hard to reach locations like light houses or caravans without chimneys, and we’ve extended this to feature Father Christmas delivering presents all over the world to places like the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, and even a spaceship!

5. What is the most magical moment in the show?

It has to be when Father Christmas takes off in his sleigh. It’s made all the more magical by all the very ordinary things we’ve seen him do up until that point. The music, sleigh and reindeers always gets a gasp from the audience. It’s a really special moment.

6. How does Father Christmas take the time out of his busy schedule in December to perform at the Lyric?

You do know he’s magic right?! He might seem like a down to earth old man, but he’s a super hero!

7. What’s your favourite thing about Christmas at the Lyric?

Seeing excited families arrive to watch the show. And the giant Christmas tree in the foyer.

8. If you could create a Father Christmas 2, what would the story be about?

We’ve been workshopping the sequel ‘Father Christmas Goes on Holiday’ where we get to find out what Father Christmas does for the rest of the year. He tries to create the perfect getaway in various different locations – camping in France and even visiting the casinos in Vegas – but struggles to travel anywhere without children spotting him.

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Find out more about Pins and Needles Productions here.