Creating the Movement of Malory Towers | Q&A with Alistair David18 Jul 2019
This summer, Wise Children are transforming Bristol's Passenger Shed into the Cornish clifftops of Malory Towers. Directed by Emma Rice, this first-ever stage adaptation of Enid Blyton's nostalgic novels will hit the stage from 19 Jul – 18 Aug.
We sat down with the show's choreographer Alistair David to find out more about what has gone in to creating the movement of Malory Towers.
What’s your starting point when choreographing a show?
The script first and foremost and the period the show or play is set in also makes a huge impact on which way to go with the language of movement. And then obviously the music- I usually start by listening to the music and making notes and watching stuff to get inspired before exploring what it is physically!
Who are your influences?
Many! I love the simplicity in movement from the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, in fact all those stars from the golden era of Hollywood I find fascinating the way they moved back then. I’m classically trained so I love the great ballet choreographers – Ashton, MacMillan, Robbins – I also love Robbins’s work in musical theatre too! Then there is Bob Fosse, a total genius, I think most dancers, choreographers and the world of dance in general are heavily influenced by him! Most recently I was in awe of Andy Blankenbuehler’s work in Hamilton, just wonderful!
What are some of your favourite shows you’ve choreographed for and why?
I have been very lucky to have been given the opportunity to choreograph some of the classics – Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, The Sound Of Music, Anything Goes, Show Boat etc! And I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the production of My Fair Lady I worked on at the Crucible Theatre in 2012!
Malory Towers in rehearsals. Photography by Steve Tanner.
What has it been like working with Wise Children, particularly Emma Rice?
I have wanted to work with Emma for a long time so I am very excited to finally be doing so and I’m LOVING IT!
What sort of movement can audiences expect to see in Malory Towers?
I have used influences from the era of the books, swing, Lindy hop, Charleston etc. Also there is some ballet and even a soft shoe shuffle too!
What’s your favourite memory from your time at school?
I went to boarding school myself, so I have fond memories of school. I guess my favourite memory is finishing our GCSE’s and having lots of time to hang out in the park, we felt so free!!!
Quick Fire Round:
Jam first or clotted cream first?
Lacrosse or tennis?
Sneaking out early or midnight feasts?
Sardines or custard?
Cliff-diving or horse-riding?
Head Girl or School Rebel?
School Rebel for sure!