Full casting has been announced for Emma Rice’s upcoming stage adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, which opens in Bristol at the Passenger Shed before embarking on a UK tour.
Tickets go on general sale at 5pm on 16 May for the Northcott, where the show opens on from 17 September.
The piece follows new student Darrell Rivers as she starts at the eccentric Malory Towers school which is situated on a cliff top in Cornwall against the backdrop of the Second World War.
It will star Rebecca Collingwood (Much Ado About Nothing) as Gwendoline Lacey, Mirabelle Gremaud (Wise Children) as Irene Bartlett, Vinnie Heaven (Cuckoo) as Bill Robinson, Izuka Hoyle (Sylvia) as Darrell, Renee Lamb (Little Shop of Horrors) as Alicia Johns, Francesca Mills (The American Clock) as Sally Hope and Rose Shalloo (The Selfish Giant) as Mary Lou Atkinson.
Co-produced by Rice’s company Wise Children with York Theatre Royal in association with Bristol Old Vic, Malory Towers has set and costume design by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, sound and video by Simon Baker and original music by Ian Ross.
Nostalgic, naughty and perfect for now, Malory Towers is the original ‘Girl Power’ story, filled with high jinks, high drama and high spirits, all set to sensational live music and breathtaking animation.
Darrell Rivers is starting school with an eager mind and fierce heart. Unfortunately she also has a quick temper! Can she learn to tolerate the infuriating Gwendoline Lacey, or value the kind-hearted Sally Hope? Can she save the school play and rescue terrified Mary Lou from the grip of a raging storm? If she can do these things anywhere, she will do them at Malory Towers!
Adapted and directed by Emma Rice, this is a show for girls, boys, and all us grown up children who still dream of midnight feasts and Cornish clifftops. With set and costume design by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, sound and video by Simon Baker and original music by Ian Ross.
Emma Rice on Malory Towers…
“I’ve always been drawn to the years that followed the Second World War. It’s a time that feels close enough to touch, as I vividly remember my grandparents and how the war affected their lives. My Mum’s parents – poor and largely uneducated – decided that their children would have access to all the things that they hadn’t. I don’t know how they managed it on a railway worker’s pay, but my mother was sent to a remote grammar school in Dorset: Lord Digby’s School for Girls.
“Whilst not a boarding school, Lord Digby’s was an extraordinary place of learning that changed my mother’s, and by extension my own, life. The tendrils of passion and education that Lord Digby’s stood for reach out across 60 years and more. They reached out over my inner city comprehensive education and have shaped my own beliefs and choices to this day.
“My adaptation of Malory Towers is dedicated to the generation of women who taught in schools in that period. With lives shaped by the savagery of two wars, these teachers devoted themselves to the education and nurture of other women. It is also for the two generations of men that died in those same wars, leaving us with the freedom to lead meaningful, safe and empowered lives. And it is for Clement Attlee and his Labour government of 1945 who looked into the face of evil and chose to do what was right. These people changed the political landscape in their focus on care, compassion and the common good.
“Malory Towers was written at the heart of this political revolution, and embodies a kindness, hope and love of life that knocks my socks off. ‘Long live our appetites and may our shadows never grow less!’ the girls cry.
“My mother wrote to her teachers at Lord Digby’s until they died and is still friends with many of the girls she met there. And when I see my Mum, born into the poorest of rural backgrounds, enjoying Dickens and Almodovar and speaking French to her childhood pen-friend, I am stopped in my tracks. She went on to dedicate her life to the NHS and the helping of others whilst never losing her appetite for life, culture and hope. I salute her, and I cheer the education that threw this mind and soul into the air and said, “be a woman that the world can lean on.
“So that’s why I am making Malory Towers, with gratitude, hope and sheer pleasure! I call it my ‘Happy Lord of the Flies’ and it is joyfully radical to its bones. Imagine a world where (left to their own devices), people choose kindness. Imagine a world where difference is respected and arguments resolved with thought and care. Imagine a world that chooses community, friendship and fun. Now that’s a world I want to live in and, at Malory Towers, you can!”
The show is officially licensed by Enid Blyton Entertainment, a division of Hachette Children’s Group (HCG). Karen Lawler, Head of Licensed Content at HCG, says, “Enid Blyton created incredible female characters at Malory Towers: strong, capable and always, always kind. ‘Women the world can lean on,’ in Enid’s own words. We share Emma’s passion for these characters and we couldn’t be more excited to see Emma’s vision of Malory Towers come to life.”
Age Recommendation: 8+
Notes to Editors
Emma Rice is the proud and excited Artistic Director of her new company, Wise Children. She adapted and directed the company’s debut production, Angela Carter’s Wise Children (The Old Vic/UK tour). As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe (2016/18), she directed Romantics Anonymous, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales). For the previous 20 years, she worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director. Her productions for Kneehigh include: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Tristan & Yseult, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, The Wild Bride, The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Cymbeline (in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre); Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions); Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic); Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages); and Steptoe and Son. Other work includes: the West End production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy (Spymonkey); The Empress (RSC); and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). Brief Encounter was revived earlier this year at the Empire Cinema Haymarket.