Michael Morpurgo joins Born Free actress ahead of charity performance at Chichester Festival Theatre

Born Free actress Virginia McKenna joins celebrated author Michael Morpurgo for charity performance of Running Wild. Saturday, February 11.
Born Free actress Virginia McKenna joins celebrated author Michael Morpurgo for charity performance of Running Wild. Saturday, February 11.

Bestselling War Horse author Michael Morpurgo and Born Free actress, Virginia McKenna OBE, were special guests at Saturday’s opening performance of Running Wild at Chichester Festival Theatre.

The incredible new play adapted from Michael’s popular book will support the work of international wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation.

Running Wild follows the adventures of nine-year-old Lilly and her unlikely animal friends including Oona the elephant, and Frankie the orangutan, brought to life by the incredible puppetry design and direction of Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, the acclaimed team behind War Horse.

During a spell-binding performance, the audience is transported to the Indonesian rain forest and enchanted by the life-sized puppets, which move and interact with the actors with breathtaking realism.

Before the play commenced, Virginia McKenna joined Michael Morpurgo on stage for a talk, hosted by Chichester-based author Kate Mosse.

Michael revealed a lifelong love of Rudyard Kipling - particularly The Elephant’s Child - and spoke of his delight to be able to support Born Free’s work through his very own ‘Jungle Book’.

Having originally seen the production at the CASS Sculpture Foundation by the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre in 2015, Virginia was delighted that Born Free was able to partner with Running Wild for the national tour.

She said: “This play is so wonderful, as it shows people how animals live in the wild, and the challenges they face. Also how to understand and respect them.

“Education is key - children are the next leaders so it’s important we encourage them to be compassionate, as it will affect how they think, and hopefully ensure the future of these wonderful creatures.

“Michael Morpurgo is one of the most generous people I have ever met and to include Born Free in the history and future of this incredible play has been amazing.”

Running Wild will play at the Chichester Festival Theatre until February 18.

The stunning production will then embark on a national tour until June which will support the Born Free Foundation’s global elephant conservation projects.

Audience members will get the opportunity to enter a special competition to win a family holiday to Sri Lanka and visit to Born Free’s elephant orphanage, in association with Kuoni.

Details of how to enter can be found in the Running Wild programme.

Read our review of yesterday’s performance here.

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