Emma Rice’s Wise Children are set to return to York Theatre Royal with their second show this September – a musical adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers. Here Rice talks favourite characters, the worrying status of the arts in schools… and her own time in uniform!
Which Malory Towers character were you in your schooldays?
I started as Sally – quite good and kept my head down – but I think I turned into Darrell eventually. She’s hot tempered but she’s a do-er and so optimistic.
And who is your favourite character?
Gwendoline Lacey! She’s so annoying and every show needs its baddie.
In a nutshell, what can people expect from the show?
It is going to be brilliant fun and so theatrical! The animation is fantastic – we are going to see the train arriving and the Cornish coast – and there is a modern eye on casting. Oh, and sensational live music and lots of dancing. Gwendoline Lacey slips in a bit of ballet while the rest of them are lindy hopping!
What are your thoughts on the arts being increasingly side-lined in schools, and what advice would you give to young people with theatrical aspirations?
The arts being cut from the curriculum breaks my heart and I wish I had the answer. But I’d say keep trying. And be inventive. Be brave and don’t be boring and remember that everyone is looking for something fresh and true.
Who was the teacher who most influenced you?
Marielaine Church was my drama teacher and my next door neighbour. She was in my life from when I was very little and gave me a love of all things theatrical.
What were your school reports like?
I once had a report card for trampolining that said ‘A’ for effort and ‘E’ for achievement. But I think I was a late developer. I was fairly unremarkable at school, but I’m a great poster girl for the long game.
How do you hope audiences go away from the show feeling?
Joyful, hopeful and resolved. It is a call to arms to make the planet a better place.
So there you have it! Wise Children’s Malory Towers is a co-production with York Theatre Royal in association with Bristol Old Vic. It plays the York Theatre Royal 10-14 September 2019 as part of a national tour and you can find tickets here.