Welsh author Sophie Anderson talks about the stage adaptation of her book, The House with the Chicken Legs. The magical musical tale is coming to Aberystwyth Arts Centre from 18-20 Oct.
Mike Smith: What was your inspiration in writing the original story?
Sophie Anderson: I have always been fascinated by the Slavic folklore character of Baba Yaga. I wanted to explore the kinder side of her nature and her links with death, in a story that ultimately is about celebrating life and living it to the full.
MS:. Did you have a stage version in mind when writing it?
SA: I didn’t even have a literary agent at the time, so I wasn’t sure whether the book would ever be published, let alone adapted for stage!
MS: How did the stage version come about?
SA: Oliver Lansley saw a copy of the book and immediately thought that he’d like to adapt it! I think the title and the cover illustration by Melissa Castrillón caught his eye first, and he did already know of Baba Yaga and her incredible house. After reading, he very much understood the essence of the story and has adapted it for stage so wonderfully.
MS: Will it appeal to readers of the book and to people who don’t know the book – and if so, for different reasons?
SA: Everyone will love the play! It is faithful to the book, and readers will love seeing it brought to life. And for people who don’t know the book, or even the folklore, it will be a wonderful theatrical experience in its own right!
MS: Have you been surprised how the journey from page to stage has happened?
SA: I am in awe of the many, many people who have brought the show to life. The sheer volume of creativity, hard work and dedication that has gone into the production is both mind-blowing and heart-swelling! I feel very blessed to have had such an amazing team adapt Marinka’s story so beautifully.
MS: What do you think audiences will enjoy in the show?
SA: Everything! It’s such a magical show with incredible music, puppetry and projection, stunning sets and costumes, hugely talented actors, and an enchanting script full of heart and humour, there really is something for everyone.
MS: Can you say a little about your own personal and creative background?
SA: My grandmother was Prussian, and my most treasured memories are of her telling me folk and fairy tales when I was young. When I had children of my own, I knew I wanted to pass on these tales so I began writing some of them down. I discovered a great passion for writing and carried on doing it in my spare time, until eventually I found my wonderful literary agent who helped me get published!
The House with Chicken Legs, Aberystwyth from 18-20 Oct.