Acclaimed staging of Louis Sachar’s Holes heads to Coventry
Louis Sachar’s award-winning children’s novel Holes is coming to the Belgrade Theatre in February when Nottingham Playhouse’s critically acclaimed production heads out on its first UK tour.
Adapted for the stage by Sachar himself, the play combines puppetry, music and physical theatre to bring to life his much-loved story of outlaws, injustice, buried treasure and ancient curses. Directed by Nottingham Playhouse Artistic Director Adam Penford, it was first staged in Nottingham in 2018, where it played to packed houses and was highly praised by critics and young audiences alike.
Since its original publication in 1998, Holes has delighted children and adult readers, becoming a staple secondary school set text and cementing its place in popular culture through the 2003 film adaptation starring Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight and Patricia Arquette.
With its distinctive blend of youthful comic fantasy and hard-hitting, grown-up themes of racism, bullying and oppression, the novel has been described by Lyn Gardner as providing “a vital bridge between primary and secondary reading”. Gritty realism gives way to mystery and intrigue, rollicking Western-style adventure, and even a touch of magic in a compelling, multi-layered story that hops effortlessly between genres and brings the past into a shocking collision with the present.
14-year-old Stanley Yelnats comes from a poor but hardworking family, who frequently find themselves faced with misfortunes, which they put down to a family curse inflicted on them by Stanley’s “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather”.
Wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of trainers, Stanley is sent away to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp in the middle of a desert, where he and the other inmates must spend all day digging holes. But it soon becomes clear that the tyrannical Camp Warden is hiding something, and their digging is about more than simply “building character”. As Stanley and his new friend Zero search for answers about the camp, the truth about their own intertwined stories is slowly revealed…
Director Adam Penford said: “I first read Holes years ago, and then I saw the movie and loved that, too, and I always thought it would work beautifully on stage. The story is a fable, really, so it lends itself to theatricality. If you love the novel and you love the film then you’ll love the play, because it’s got all the familiar characters, but there are also surprises in the way that we represent certain moments of the plot on stage.”