The Savage: A Word from the Writer David Almond

I first wrote The Savage as a short story for TV. It was read by Kevin Whateley and illustrated by Keith McIntyre. It wouldn’t keep still, though. The story kept moving, growing and I knew I had to work on it again. I expanded it, explored it, discovered new depths and possibilities and I wrote it next time as a short novel. As I wrote, I knew it had to be an illustrated book, and it became that, with amazing art work by the great Dave McKean.

But some stories are never finished. They have an energy that in some ways is nothing to do with the writer. They seem to lie in wait for new opportunities to show themselves. When I thought about writing a play for Live Theatre, The Savage leapt to life and bared his chest. Set me free again! He demanded. And I listened, and I imagined him prowling this stage, filling this auditorium with his howls, his savagery and his tenderness. I imagined his knife and his axe, his cave, his pitchblack pitshaft. I imagined seeing Blue Baker and his family before me. I imagined his enemy, the sinister and troubled Hopper. As I wrote, the characters became more complex than they had been before. Soon, I knew it needed another strong character to enrich the story, who had not existed in any of the story’s previous incarnations. This is Elaine, Blue’s friend, who helps to guide him through his difficult yearning journey.

It’s a play that had writing and storytelling at its heart.  A good and grieving boy writes a tale so powerful that it transforms his life. He creates a character that steps out from the page and enters the world. In the process he learns much about himself, about his world, about the people around him, about the fluid boundaries between the real and the imagined. He explores the nature of savagery and civilisation. He learns much about writing – that it is not some perfectly-controlled act of the conscious mind, but that it draws on the deep forces of the subconscious, that it is an act of the body as well as the brain, that it can be wild and strange and beautiful, that it links us to all the storytellers who have gone before us and all who are to come. It is also a communal, collaborative act. This version of The Savage has grown and developed through discussion and debate with Max Roberts and Gez Casey, through feedback from actors, through readings and rehearsals.

So here is The Savage again, in this new theatrical form. Now the story is embodied by actors. It has movement, music, art, design, shifting light and shade. Hope you enjoy it as you sit here in this lovely theatre. Hope Blue Baker’s story moves you. Hope The Savage prowls inside you and reaches out to something savage and tender inside yourself.

The Savage is a spectacular family friendly play with music, dance and stunning visual effects.  An uplifting contemporary fable about creation and renewal, wildness and civilisation, showing the importance of creativity in making us whole. The Savage has its World Premiere at Live Theatre from Thursday 30 June to Saturday 23 July.

Tickets cost £22-£10, over 60s concs £16-£12 and £15-£6 other concessions.

You can also join us for two free associated events:  Live Tales Introduction on Saturday 9 July after the 2pm show and Meet the Writer & Book Signing on Tuesday 12 July after the 7.30pm show.  Booking is essential.

Sat 16 Jul, 11.30am – 1pm
Wild Writing Workshop with David Almond
Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to join Carnegie Medal-winning writer of Skellig and The Savage,  David Almond for a creative writing workshop to discover your inner wild writer and set it free.

David will lead a Wild Writing Workshop between 11.30am and 1pm on Saturday 16 July at Live Theatre.

Participants will be encouraged to lose their writing inhibitions and explore their imagination to discover their inner wild writer.

Suitable for ages 9+ and adults.

Tickets are £10, £6 concs. Booking essential.

Find out more 

To book tickets and to find out more visit or contact Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.