Michelle Magorian launches new book at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Author Michelle Magorian with Murray Melvin launches her new book Impossible! at the Theatre Royal S

Author Michelle Magorian with Murray Melvin launches her new book Impossible! at the Theatre Royal Stratford East - Credit: Archant

Theatre Royal Stratford East takes centre stage in author Michelle Magorian’s new book and played host to a launch event on Monday.

Author Michelle Magorian with Murray Melvin launches her new book Impossible! at the Theatre Royal S

Author Michelle Magorian with Murray Melvin launches her new book Impossible! at the Theatre Royal Stratford East - Credit: Archant

Blending fiction into history, Impossible! is the story of 12-year-old Josie, who is desperate to act.

She goes to drama school, but, as was the case in those days, finds it more like a finishing school and struggles to fit in.

“It’s part mystery, part historical,” said Michelle, who is probably best known for her debut novel, Goodnight Mister Tom.

“She and another character are on the run and they find themselves at the Theatre Royal in Stratford, where Joan Littlewood is directing.”


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It’s that encounter with Joan that changes Josie’s perceptions on theatre.

But writing a book set 50 years ago isn’t easy, as it requires research and a bit of luck.

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“The theatre layout has changed quite a bit in that time, so I met with Murray Melvin, who took me round the theatre and showed me where things used to be,” said Michelle.

“I was quite lucky as I needed it to rain on a certain night for a particular scene, and there was actually a big storm that night.

“I also needed Joan to be directing something with a crowd scene, and the show was on at that time had one.”

Fans of Michelle’s other books will be familiar with Josie’s family - her older brother Ralph is the star of A Cuckoo in the Nest and her sister Elsie takes centre stage in A Spoonful of Jam.

Michelle said: “Josie is born at the end of A Spoonful of Jam, and it’s only natural that with a brother and sister in the theatre, she’d want to follow them.”

With her readers - the book is aimed at older children and teenagers - too young to remember Joan and her work, Michelle’s new novel is set to bring the revolutionary director’s tale to a whole new audience.

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