Nicholas Stuart Gray (1922-1981) was a British actor and playwright, perhaps best known for his work in children’s theatre in England. He was also an author of children’s fantasy; he wrote a number of novels, a dozen plays and many short stories and has been described as ‘one of those authors I loved as a boy who holds up even better on rereading as an adult’.  Many other modern fantasy authors cite Gray’s work as something they enjoyed as children.

Perhaps his best-known books are The Seventh Swan and Grimbold’s Other World.  He often produced adaptations or continuations of traditional fairy tales and fantasy works, as in his Further Adventures of Puss in Boots and The Stone Cage, a re-telling of Rapunzel from a cat’s point of view.

Set in China in 200 AD, Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Nightingale” has been magically woven onto the stage.  The Imperial Nightingale tells the tale of a nightingale who sings his enchanting song to a humble fisherman and a lowly kitchen maid.  The tyrannical Emperor is under threat from the treacherous warlord, Red Dragon. When the Nightingale appears with its beautiful and enchanting voice, the Emperor is converted from the forces of evil and with the help of his loyal subjects – a bungling magician and Four-Winds, the dreamy court poet – the threat of the Red Dragon’s wrath is no more.  Nicholas Stuart Gray writes with a keen understanding of the children’s theatre, and he has given us a play that will delight young and old alike.