Why You Should Watch David Walliams' Mr Stink

Why You Should Watch David Walliams Mr Stink
David Walliams

The multi-talented David Walliams - Writer, comedian, actor, judge - is one of our favourite all round entertainers. City Times spoke to the man himself about writing and the uae opening of Mr Stink, the play based on his popular children's book Pages 10-11

By Maan Jalal

Published: Mon 7 Nov 2016, 3:42 PM

Last updated: Sun 13 Nov 2016, 7:49 PM

We all know him for his quick wit and natural ability to make us laugh. Whether he's judging Britain's Got Talent with Simon Cowell, doing a hilarious sketch on the show that propelled him to fame Little Britain or starring as Tommy Beresford in the BBC series Partners in Crime, it's safe to say that David Walliams isn't only talented but extremely loved by a diverse audeince. But there's more to David Walliams than his talents on screen. His talent on paper is equally, if not more, impressive.

David Walliams the children's author brings to many adults a renewed sense of nostalgia, with stories that have remnants of some of the greatest children's authors in history.

With adventure, suspense, bizarre, hilarious characters and an indescribable something that keeps us engaged, David's stories have the perfect formula to become instant classics.

The Boy in the Dress and Gangsta Granny are some of David's more popular books. But we have a special place for Mr. Stink, which we are excited to see will be performed here in the UAE as a play.
Mr. Stink is about Chloe, a 12-year-old girl who doesn't fit in. Then, one day she meets the homeless Mr Stink, who isn't only a little bit scruffy but also, as his name indicates, pretty bad smelling. Despite this, Chloe sees Mr Stink for who he is and is willing to fight for their friendship even if she's up against her own mother, an uptight wannabe politician. David Walliams had a chat with City Times about Mr Stink on the stage and why of all his talents and work, writing is what he's most proud of.

Transitioning into being a writer from a highly successful career as an entertainer was actually more natural than we thought for David.
"I didn't really want to be a writer when I was a child. I wanted to be a comedian. Then I realised that many comedians wrote their own material, and that's what got me into writing."

Comedian, judge, actor, author, David is involved in many forms of entertainment, but how does he see himself?
"I am most proud of being a writer. To think one of my books could change the way a child thinks or feels about something like cross-dressing or homelessness or mortality or religion or Alzheimer's disease is mind-blowing."

Mr. Stink is definitely one of the more unique characters we've come across. It got us feeling curious about how David developed him.
"A friend told me a story about how when he was a boy his family would always drive past an old lady eating on the side of the road. One morning they stopped to give her a lift and she stank out the car and they never stopped for her again. It got me thinking about how much you could love someone who really stank."
Reading a good book is always about challenging our own ideas and thoughts. And that's exactly what David intended for Mr. Stink to do.
"I think children can be naturally quite conservative so I wanted to challenge that. Every homeless person has a story, and Mr Stink's is particularly heartbreaking."
We'd imagine that seeing a story he'd worked on come to life on the stage would feel extremely surreal. What was it like seeing his characters on stage and not in his mind?
"When you finish writing the book you put it to the back of your mind and move on to the next project. It's a huge thrill to see other people interpret your work, and bring it to life in ways you might not have imagined. It's very flattering too."
We all learn something from a good story. But no one likes to be bashed over the head with lessons. Like many good writers, David knows how to tell us something profound without it feeling forced.
"It's important to have a point to your story, to leave the reader changed in some way. The moral has to come out of the story, rather than trying to create a story around a moral which could be a bit too preachy."

With the advent of social media and other ways for children to be entertained online, traditional storytellers might be feeling the pressure to keep young readers engaged.
"Children want stories to be exciting and funny. You have to hold their attention, as their attention spans are dealing all the time with the overload of information we are all receiving through our phones and computers. It's a good pressure to have though it just means you have to cut out all the fat in your story."

While adults might invest more time in a story even if they aren't initially enjoying it, we wonder if children's more ruthless approach to abandoning stories makes writing for them more difficult.
"I think children are tough critics. If they don't like a book they tell you about it while grown-ups are more polite. Also I think children's books tend to be more imaginative, as children believe in magic. Which I do too."

David is a brilliant storyteller and has a real way with words. We can't help but hope that perhaps he might write a story for adults soon?
"If I had a great idea for a book for grown-ups or a play or a film, I would write it. I just follow my instinct. Right now my instinct is telling me to keep writing for children."

We always love to know what our favourite authors are reading or what other authors they love. David doesn't disappoint us in this area either.
"Roald Dahl is the master. I don't think he has ever been bettered. As a child I loved his work but also Dr Seuss, C.S. Lewis and John Wyndham. Now it seems all the best children's writers are women. J.K. Rowling and Dame Jacqueline Wilson are current favourites of mine. If you have never read Tracy Beaker stop what you are doing and start reading it right away. It is a work of heart-breaking genius."

For someone who definitely seems to be the life of the party, always with something funny to say, David's writing process had us a bit surpirsed.
"I sit alone in silence and think of writing as trying to remember a film I haven't see yet. I have to visualise everything first and the start the process of explaining what I can see to the reader."

Great plays and amazing movies - what are David's favourites?
"I loved the film La La Land it's a treat. My favourite plays are A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Betrayal by Harold Pinter. A great play you can see over and over again. My favourite living novelist is Kazuo Ishiguro."

Mr Stink will be performed in Abu Dhabi on November 12-13 at Al Jaheli Theatre, and in Dubai, November 16-18 at Madinat Theatre.

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