New staging of Enid Blyton's Malory Towers story reimagines tomboy character as non-binary

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Director Emma Rice talked about the changes she made in her stage play based on Enid Blyton's "Malory Towers," a book series about the adventures at a girls' boarding school.

"Student-wise, we have kept the characters from the books, but I have cast actors from diverse backgrounds (as opposed to the all‑white world of Forties Enid Blyton) to more accurately reflect the times we live in. I have also cast a fantastic non-binary performer [Vinnie Heaven, who doesn’t identify as male or female] as Bill, or Wilhelmina, Robinson. Bill is portrayed as a tomboy in the books, but, thanks to the progress we have made as a society, people like Bill are now able to express their identity in other ways. It’s very moving to look back and see people who may have been transgender or gay or a member of another community at a time when there simply wasn’t the language to talk about it."

In the original books, Bill is described as “somebody who, except for the school tunic, looked exactly like a boy”, with short hair and a “boyish grin”. In one scene, Bill tells the other students, "I’ve never in my life been called Wilhelmina. Ever. It’s a frightful name. Everyone calls me Bill… If you all start calling me Wilhelmina I shall be miserable. I shan’t feel I’m myself.”



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