Kneehigh are an associate company of the Globe Theatre and have been proud to be part of Emma Rice's Wonder Season at the Globe and delighted to work with the terrific staff in the Globe's theatre department.
It felt wonderful and important to be performing the first ever family show at the Globe with 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips as well as bringing The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk to the Sam Wanamaker theatre. I personally have seen every show in the Wonder Season, and I remain part of Emma’s Creative Cabinet along with many of the UK's top theatre makers.
In the 37 years since I founded Kneehigh I have always maintained the paramount importance of supporting artists first and foremost. Organisational leaders must trust the artists they choose, give them artistic freedom and maintain the best conditions of creativity possible for them to work in. It is Kneehigh’s unswerving dedication to these principles that has enabled the company to grow from a small shed in Cornwall to a massively loved internationally touring theatre company. Our trust in artists, and the freedom we give them, has enabled us to sustain long-term relationships with deeply talented artists – relationships that enrich us enormously. It has also enabled us to help artists develop to the best of their potential. Among the artists that developed with us was Emma Rice: we gave her her first directing gigs and, as she rose to become an internationally respected director, we supported, but never interfered with, her artistic vision.
The failure of the board to support Emma will harm the Globe, which will lose the opportunity to have a long-term relationship with Emma and other wonderful artists and to learn from and be enriched by them. The board, and all theatre boards, must in the future trust their artists and give them freedom if they are to have any hope of developing as organisations – let alone if they wish to be part of developing a new generation of theatre artists.
We look forward to performing Tristan & Yseult in next summer’s season and are committed to the celebration of Emma’s remaining tenure.
Mike Shepherd, Artistic Director