Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue
© Punch Photographic

What made you want to adapt your novel for the stage?
I've been writing plays even longer than I've been writing novels. The stage seemed an obvious fit for this story because Room is all about the ability of play to keep reality at bay; the transforming power of imagination.

What did you want to accomplish from the stage adaptation?
I wanted retell the story of Jack and Ma in a way that manages to make his astonishing coming of age process dramatic, and also lets Ma's complicated dilemma be seen - how much dream to give her son, and how much reality?

Why did you decide that it needed Cora Bissett and Kathryn Joseph's music?
I'd talked to some directors before about possibly bringing Room to the stage, but Cora's passionate appeal was something new: she was convinced not only that she wanted to develop and direct a theatre version of the novel, but that it needed songs which would act as a sort of unleashing of all Ma's secrets, everything she can't say to her son.

Why was Stratford East the perfect location for it?
Cora had a great relationship with the theatre already, and I was delighted because it's such a great combination of old theatre, community engagement and artistic experiment.

Which process did you enjoy the most, writing the novel, screenplay or stage play?
Apples, oranges and pears: the novel is my home genre in that it's where my ideas get to take flight without any interference; the film world was entirely new to me so that was a brand new skill-set to have to develop; theatre's always been the most exciting kind of work for me.

Did the production live up to your expectations?
Absolutely - and there were many elements such as video projection, puppetry, and the lighting and sound design that added new layers in a way that surprised me on the opening night.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when putting this on stage?
Our huge technical challenge was Jack. How to represent a five year-old with a huge and vivid stream of consciousness. But I think the solution we found for that - Little Jack acting his physical and social self, with Big Jack voicing his thoughts - has turned out to be one of the richest elements of the play, and one all the reviewers are loving.

What's the most important lesson you have learnt during your time working on Room?
How deeply music touches people; I think I'll want music in my theatre work again.

Why should people book tickets to come and see the show?
It's an unmissable, exciting drama that also manages to tap into a universal feeling about childhood as everybody's lost paradise.

Room runs at the Theatre Royal Stratford East until 3 June, then tours to Dundee Rep (13 to 17 June) and Abbey Theatre, Dublin (24 June to 22 July).