Vinnie Heaven
Wednesday 28 August 2019

Malory Towers: 5 Minutes with Vinnie Heaven

This week we chatted to actor and puppeteer Vinnie Heaven ahead of Wise Children's wonderfully imaginative production of Malory Towers next week...

Is Malory Towers your first experience working with Wise Children and director Emma Rice?

Yes and yes. It’s brilliant!

We understand the show includes live music, dance and even live animation – have you ever performed in a show like this before? 

I have used or performed with each element singularly but this is my first time with all of them threaded together. I am not musical theatre trained so Alistair David (Choreographer) and Ian Ross (Composer) have challenged and developed me. Alistair's kindness and patience got me confident enough to throw some dance moves and Ian and I have a similar, slightly odd brain, so that works well! 

What are your favourite elements of the production?

Firstly - the team! They are phenomenal, open minded, open-hearted, open armed, beauties! We are a family. We all play ball games together, no matter our job role, it helps us to laugh with each other and to know that we are all equal. This cast and crew are all giving their all to this show and it is a privilege to work alongside them.

The’s divine. It reaches parts of me I’ve never accessed before. Ian and Emma combined on lyrics and composition is a truly beautiful thing. 

The heart of the show that celebrates the brilliance of young people and the need to always work towards doing the right thing.

Why do you think Enid Blyton’s cherished Malory Towers book series suits being adapted for the stage, and what do you think the story brings to a 21st century audience?

We are at a point where our young people are standing tall and saying they want change. They want change for the climate, change for equality and the language around identity and change for the way those with power shape the society that they will have to live in as adults. The Malory Towers books show us strong willed, independent young people who will make mistakes but name them and get back up again. The books remind us that young people are unchangeable in their fire to do what’s right. 

This play places a hand on the back of young people. It boldly and unapologetically shows what young people are capable of. It lifts them up, with no adults to box them or squash them. The characters in the play look right in to the eyes of the audience and say - we’re here, we’re capable and we’re strong.

For me, this adaption brings in generations to sit together and unite. It reminds us of our similarities across the ages and is in an environment where you can laugh together and share in how things were in times gone by. 

Where can you imagine Wise Children going in the future?

To kitchen table stories where people tell of a show they watched and how it reached them even on a dark day.

To stage schools where teachers and students discuss how the play is put together, with who and what it means to see theatre made and performed with pure heart.

To the palms of hand holders sitting lovingly in the dark, watching the next Wise Children show, buzzing with anticipation and excitement.

To young people's brains who see cast members that look and sound like them! I hope this show, those that came before and those yet to come will stand proudly and unapologetically as a mirror to ALL of us. Through truly mirroring life and the beautiful variety of people in it - casting on spirit not flesh, Wise Children will ripple out and go everywhere. And those who experience it as cast, crew or audience will all grow richer from it.

And finally, describe the show in 5 words…

Not one person left behind. 

Malory Towers is at Cambridge Arts Theatre from Wednesday 4 - Saturday 7 September. For more information and how to book tickets, click here.