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Kneehigh Theatre

Kneehigh Theatre

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Kneehigh Theatre is an international theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 company based in Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, England.

Kneehigh was started in 1980 by Mike Shepherd. Early productions were performed in village halls, marquees, cliff-tops and quarries. Their productions are often based around mythological tales such as the Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children's stories. These include "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Ugly Duckling."...

 fairy-tale The Red Shoes
The Red Shoes (fairy tale)
"The Red Shoes" is a fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen first published by C.A. Reitzel in Copenhagen 7 April 1845 in New Fairy Tales. First Volume. Third Collection. 1845....

, The Bacchae
The Bacchae
The Bacchae is an ancient Greek tragedy by the Athenian playwright Euripides, during his final years in Macedon, at the court of Archelaus I of Macedon. It premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included Iphigeneia at Aulis, and which...

and the Cornish legend Tristan and Yseult
Tristan and Iseult
The legend of Tristan and Iseult is an influential romance and tragedy, retold in numerous sources with as many variations. The tragic story is of the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Iseult...

. Their artistic director Emma Rice won Best Director 2002, Barclays Theatre Awards.

Their productions often have a nightmarish, surrealist, mythical feel and are often performed outside in locations such as Restormel Castle
Restormel Castle
Restormel Castle is situated on the River Fowey near Lostwithiel, Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is one of the four chief Norman castles of Cornwall, the others being Launceston, Tintagel and Trematon. The castle is notable for its perfectly circular design...

, the Minack Theatre
Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is an open-air theatre, constructed above a gully with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea...

 and the Eden Project
Eden Project
The Eden Project is a visitor attraction in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, including the world's largest greenhouse. Inside the artificial biomes are plants that are collected from all around the world....

. Kneehigh are currently building The Asylum, a tent that can be configured in 5 ways and pitched in 1 day on any surface. They use a variety of theatrical elements including puppetry
Puppetry
Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance which involves the manipulation of puppets. It is very ancient, and is believed to have originated 30,000 years BC. Puppetry takes many forms but they all share the process of animating inanimate performing objects...

, live music
Live Music
Live Music is a reggaeton company owned by DJ Giann.-Artists:* Jowell & Randy* Tony Lenta* Watussi* De La Ghetto* Guelo Star* Galante "El Emperador"-Producers:*DJ Blass*Dexter*Mr. Greenz*DJ Giann*Los Hitmen*Dirty Joe*ALX...

 (often played with folk instruments such as ukeleles and dulcimer
Appalachian dulcimer
The Appalachian dulcimer is a fretted string instrument of the zither family, typically with three or four strings. It is native to the Appalachian region of the United States...

s) and an emphasis on visual imagery.

Between 1989 and 2006, Sue Hill and Bill Mitchell were working as part of Kneehigh on work that was happening outdoors and on site, influenced heavily by such groups as Footsbarn Theatre
Footsbarn Theatre
Footsbarn Theatre is a touring theatre company renowned for its adaptations of classics such as Shakespeare and Molière.Footsbarn started life in Cornwall, in the United Kingdom in 1971 rehearsing in a barn owned by the Foot family, hence its name....

 and Welfare State International
Welfare State International
Welfare State International were an influential performance group based in the UK and founded in 1968 by John Fox and Sue Gill. Fox was, and remains, a vociferous proponent of 'celebratory theatre' and an anarchic, energetic and imaginative approach to creating theatre. In 2006 they felt the...

. However, feeling that Kneehigh was pulling in 2 different directions, one based in studios and theatres, and the other based in the landscape, Hill and Mitchell formed their own company Wildworks
Wildworks
Wildworks is an international site-specific theatre company based in Cornwall, England.They specialise in large-scale outdoor promenade performances.They were formed in 2005 by Bill Mitchell initially growing out of Kneehigh Theatre Company....

. The first Wildworks productions were initially co-productions with Kneehigh until 2006 when they made Souterrain, their first independent production.

In the autumn of 2007, Kneehigh toured village halls in Cornwall with Blast! A Cornish Expose Performed by 3 Complete Idiots! and presented Noël Coward
Noël Coward
Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".Born in Teddington, a suburb of London, Coward attended a dance academy...

's Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter is a 1945 British film directed by David Lean about the conventions of British suburban life, centring on a housewife for whom real love brings unexpectedly violent emotions. The film stars Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey...

in Birmingham and at the West Yorkshire Playhouse
West Yorkshire Playhouse
The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, England is a theatre which opened in March 1990 as part of the regeneration of the Quarry Hill area of the city...

 in Leeds
Leeds
Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

. After finishing a run of Brief Encounter at the Cinema Haymarket in the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

, the show toured the UK before going overseas to San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater
American Conservatory Theater
American Conservatory Theater is a large non-profit theater company in San Francisco, California, that offers both classical and contemporary theater productions. A.C.T. was founded in 1965 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Carnegie Tech by theatre and...

 and Brooklyn, New York's St. Ann's Warehouse
St. Ann's Warehouse
St. Ann's Warehouse is a performing arts institution in Brooklyn, New York.History: 1980-2001The original home of Arts at St. Ann's was the National Historic Landmark Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. For twenty-one years, St...

. The production is currently performing at the Guthrie Theater
Guthrie Theater
The Guthrie Theater is a center for theater performance, production, education, and professional training in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is the result of the desire of Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Oliver Rea, and Peter Zeisler to create a resident acting company that would produce and perform the classics in...

 in Minneapolis. They are also currently touring their production of Don John, based on the story of Don Juan
Don Juan
Don Juan is a legendary, fictional libertine whose story has been told many times by many authors. El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra by Tirso de Molina is a play set in the fourteenth century that was published in Spain around 1630...

.

Productions

  • The Red Shoes - 2003

  • The Bacchae - 2004, won the TMA Theatre Award
    TMA Awards
    The TMA Awards, established in 1991, are presented annually by the Theatrical Management Association in recognition of creative excellence and outstanding work in United Kingdom theatres...

     for best touring production of 2004].

  • The Wooden Frock - 2004, nominated for the TMA Award for Best Touring Production 2004

  • Tristan and Yseult - 2004, toured internationally in conjunction with the National Theatre
    Royal National Theatre
    The Royal National Theatre in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company...

     (The Stage review http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/7442)

  • Nights at the Circus
    Nights at the Circus
    Nights at the Circus is a novel by Angela Carter, first published in 1984 and that year's winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. The novel focuses on the life and exploits of Fevvers, a woman who is – or so she would have people believe – a Cockney virgin, hatched from an egg...

    - 2006, tour co-produced with the Lyric Hammersmith and Bristol Old Vic. (The Stage review http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/11410/nights-at-the-circus)

  • William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

    's Cymbeline
    Cymbeline
    Cymbeline , also known as Cymbeline, King of Britain or The Tragedy of Cymbeline, is a play by William Shakespeare, based on legends concerning the early Celtic British King Cunobelinus. Although listed as a tragedy in the First Folio, modern critics often classify Cymbeline as a romance...

    , (The Times reviewhttp://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,14936-2371286,00.html).

  • Rapunzel
    Rapunzel
    "Rapunzel" is a German fairy tale in the collection assembled by the Brothers Grimm, and first published in 1812 as part of Children's and Household Tales. The Grimm Brothers' story is an adaptation of the fairy tale Persinette by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force originally published in 1698...

    at Battersea Arts Centre
    Battersea Arts Centre
    The Battersea Arts Centre is a performance space near Clapham Junction in Battersea, in the London Borough of Wandsworth that specialises in music and theatre productions.-History:...

     - 2006/07 Christmas period. (The Stage review http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/15317/rapunzel)

  • A Matter of Life and Death
    A Matter of Life and Death (play)
    A Matter of Life and Death is a stage adaptation by Tom Morris and Emma Rice of Powell and Pressburger's film of the same name for the company Kneehigh Theatre...

    - From May 2007, at the National Theatre
    Royal National Theatre
    The Royal National Theatre in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company...

    . The play is based on the film of the same name by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. (The Observer review http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/drama/reviews/story/0,,2078331,00.html).

  • Blast! - 2007

  • Brief Encounter
    Brief Encounter
    Brief Encounter is a 1945 British film directed by David Lean about the conventions of British suburban life, centring on a housewife for whom real love brings unexpectedly violent emotions. The film stars Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey...

    toured England before opening in 2008 on the Haymarket, London.

  • Don John - 2009, in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company
    Royal Shakespeare Company
    The Royal Shakespeare Company is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The company employs 700 staff and produces around 20 productions a year from its home in Stratford-upon-Avon and plays regularly in London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and on tour across...

     and Bristol Old Vic
    Bristol Old Vic
    The Bristol Old Vic is a theatre company based at the Theatre Royal, King Street, in Bristol, England. The theatre complex includes the 1766 Theatre Royal, which claims to be the oldest continually-operating theatre in England, along with a 1970s studio theatre , offices and backstage facilities...


  • Hansel & Gretel - 2009/10, in association with Bristol Old Vic
    Bristol Old Vic
    The Bristol Old Vic is a theatre company based at the Theatre Royal, King Street, in Bristol, England. The theatre complex includes the 1766 Theatre Royal, which claims to be the oldest continually-operating theatre in England, along with a 1970s studio theatre , offices and backstage facilities...


  • Blast!, The Red Shoes, The King of Prussia - Summer 2010, First Asylum Season. Blackwater, Cornwall.

  • The Wild Bride - 2011, The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London.

The Company


Although the company does vary between productions, there are a number of people who are repeatedly involved with Kneehigh. The company includes:
  • Simon Baker, sound designer. Brief Encounter, Don John, The Wild Bride
  • Stu Barker, performer, composer & musical director. A Matter of Life and Death, Tristan & Yseult, Cubeline, Brief Encounter, Nights at the Circus, Rapunzel, The Bacchae, The Wooden Frock, Pandora's Box, The Red Shoes, The Itch, Roger Salmon, Don John, The Wild Bride
  • Dominic Bilkey, sound designer. The Bacchae, Tristan & Yseult, Cymbeline, Rapunzel
  • Paul Crewes, producer. The Bacchae, The Wooden Frock, Cymbeline, Rapunzel, Don John, The Wild Bride
  • Gisli Orn Gardarsson, performer. A Matter of Life and Death, Nights at the Circus, Don John
  • Carl Grose, performer & writer. Performer: The King of Prussia, Strange Cargo, Wagstaffe the Wind-up Boy, Nights at the Circus, Cymbeline, Blast!, Don John, Hansel & Gretel Writer: Quicksilver, Tristan & Yseult, The Bacchae, Cymbeline, Hansel & Gretel, The Wild Bride
  • Craig Johnson, performer. Cry Wolf, Quicksilver, Skulduggery, Tristan & Yseult, The Bacchae, Cymbeline, A Matter of Life and Death, Blast!, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (which he also directed), Don John, Hansel & Gretel
  • Amanda Lawrence, performer. Tristan & Yseult, Knights at the Circus, Brief Encounter
  • Dom Lawton, performer & musician. A Matter of Life and Death, Annabelle Lee, Cymbeline, Hanging Around, Don John
  • Robert Luckay, performer. The Bacchae, Cymbeline
  • Anna Maria Murphy, writer. Tristan & Yseult, The Bacchae, The Red Shoes, Skulduggery, Doubtful Island, Ghost Nets, Women Who Threw the Day Away, Telling Tales
  • Dave Mynne, performer & founder member. Don John
  • Emma Rice, artistic director and performer. The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Tristan & Yseult, Nights at the Circus, Cymbeline, A Matter of Life and Death, Rapunzel, Brief Encounter, Don John, The Wild Bride
  • Malcolm Rippeth, lighting designer. Brief Encounter, Cymbeline, Nights at the Circus, The Bacchae, Pandora's Box, Don John, The Wild Bride
  • Mike Shepherd, performer and founder. The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, A Matter of Life and Death, Cymbeline, Rapunzel, Blast!, Don John, Tristan & Yseult
  • Tristan Sturrock, performer. Brief Encounter, A Matter of Life and Death, The Riot, Tristan and Yseult, The King of Prussia, Tregeagle, Ship of Fools, Peer Gynt, The Ashmaid, Danger My Ally, Windfall, Don John
  • Ian Ross, musician. Brief Encounter, Don John, The Wild Bride
  • Michael Vale, designer. Rapunzel, Cymbeline
  • Alex Vann, musician. Tristan & Yseult, Cymbeline, A Matter of Life and Death, Brief Encounter, Don John
  • Alex Wardle, lighting designer. Tristan & Yseult, Rapunzel, The Wooden Frock, The Riot, The Red Shoes
  • Mary Woodvine, performer. The Young Man of Cury, Windfall, King of Prussia, The Riot, Fishboy, Skullduggery, Don John

External links