Manjeet Mann adapts her multi award-winning novel Run, Rebel for Pilot Theatre’s latest show for young people, in a co-production with Mercury Theatre Colchester, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Derby Theatre and York Theatre Royal.
Directed by Tessa Walker, this celebrated novel is brought to thrilling theatrical life in a new adaptation by the author, as it tells the story of Amber, a young girl deftly defining her place in the world, as she navigates a difficult homelife and bullying at school with sanctuary coming through her one escape of running and running fast.
Combining physical theatre and mesmerising visuals, the show is made specifically for audiences of 11+ and will be performed by a multi-talented ensemble. Run, Rebel will open to press at Mercury Colchester on Thursday 2 March before travelling to York, Derby, Coventry and Alnwick. Full details can be found here
Your adaptation of your novel Run, Rebel is heading out on tour, what can you tell us about the show?
Like the novel it is fast paced with elements of spoken word, movement, a beautiful score and dynamic performances.
What inspired you to write the book originally?
It is partly inspired by my own experiences growing up; the people, the places and the stories I was told, and it is partly inspired by my work in the community through my organisation Run The World. Run The World works to empower women and girls through running and storytelling.
I started writing Run, Rebel around the same time as I set up the organisation. Many of the women I was working with were survivors of domestic violence and hearing their brave, life changing stories, gave me the confidence to dig deep and share the story I wanted to tell, for my teenage self, who felt voiceless and disempowered.
And what made you want to turn it into a stage production?
I’m also an actress so I’m always looking at other forms a story can take. When I was writing Run, Rebel (the novel), I saw it visually and as a theatre piece almost immediately. I think verse lends itself to performance and once Tessa (the director) read it and said she also saw how it could work on stage, I knew there was something in it.
Spoken word and theatre often live separately, so to bring the two together was something that excited both myself and Tessa.
What did you find was the biggest challenge in adapting Run, Rebel?
I think being so close to the material isn’t always helpful. In the beginning I found it difficult to move away from the structure of the novel and allow the story to live differently on stage. What drives the novel, doesn’t necessarily drive a live performance so it was tricky at first figuring out what the language of a live version would be compared to the language of the novel. I believe we’ve got there after many drafts! It’s been a difficult but brilliant journey.
Why do you think it’s so important that this kind of theatre exists for young adults?
We know of the transformative effects theatre can have on anyone regardless of age, but theatre crafted for young people in mind, with characters and situations they recognise and see themselves in, can be empowering and life changing. At same time seeing characters and situations they don’t recognise helps build empathy and understanding.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Run, Rebel?
Do it! It’s not like anything you’ll have seen in the theatre before.