Read more on 946 – Kitten Summer: Director’s Notes from the Kneehigh Cookbook archive.
When I was 12, the same age as Lily in our story, our cat had kittens. Four of them. The mother cat had been a fairly grumpy pet, prone to biting and that rabbit kicking thing that bad cats do, but these kittens, these kittens my! They were heaven sent! Funny, confident and affectionate; that summer was one of the happiest I can remember. The snuggle of fur and the deep peace of a sleeping feline on your lap. Three were eventually found homes, but one, Polly, stayed with us. She was to the manor born, literally. Queen of the Castle, Top Dog and King Pin all in one. She had an attitude and an intellect that wiped the floor with us mere mortals. We loved her with a passion and she purred at the centre of our world.
946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips: allows us to remember the intense passions, senses and fears of being a child, and through this deceptively simple lens a global, timeless and political vision appears
Once she went missing and my Mum, usually the voice of reason, took to her bed, distraught. It felt as if the heart had been ripped from us.
Needless to say, she reappeared 3 days later, drenched, embarrassed, ravenous and defiant.
Polly went on to live to a decent age, but we have now been without her for over 20 years. I miss her still and her picture her in astonishing detail as I write. And it is not just a generic comfort and warmth that I miss. I miss her personality, her swagger and her joyous appetite for life and pleasure. To this day, if we talk about her, my Mum, my sister and I feel the tears begin to bubble.
Such is the power of love for an animal. And this is something that Michael Morpurgo profoundly understands. 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips allows us to remember the intense passions, senses and fears of being a child, and through this deceptively simple lens a global, timeless and political vision appears. This story is so full of heart and wonder that it bursts through the page, through the generations and through the soul. With a lightness of touch that dances on our collective memory, it tells us of innocence and loss, of love and prejudice.
It was my Mum who told me to read The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips. She has been reading it to my nieces and had decided it had everything a Kneehigh show needed.
And this time, my Mum was not just the voice of reason, but also the voices of instinct and wisdom. She couldn’t have been more right.
I have loved every moment of bringing this story to theatrical life. I have stretched one hand back to touch the hands of my Gran and Granddad who lived through the war but are now long gone. The other reached firmly forward to be placed in the hands of my Kneehigh friends, old and new. Once again they have thrilled and moved me with their generosity, bravery and breath-taking talent. And if only I had another hand, I would rest it now on the soft, warm back of my beloved Polly.
Emma Rice, Director (2015)