Kneehigh, the award winning international touring theatre company from Cornwall, have always been inspired by the landscape and the people of their county. During the last three years, they have undertaken a programme of work that aims to ‘engage with community though event and adventure’. This community has in turn inspired them to make more relevant, more personal and more political work.
This programme of work now has a new name: Kneehigh Rambles. Emma Rice, Joint Artistic Director of Kneehigh explained the reasoning behind the name: “We think that this name sums up what we have been doing, and what we plan to do. A ‘Ramble’ is a gentle foray, an easy adventure, where the journey is the thing, not necessarily the destination.
“With experience, care and skill we have built bridges from the community to our theatre company, our performances and our practice. Proudly rural, our Rambles have already changed lives and reached places and people that can so often be excluded from the Arts.”
Kneehigh Rambles has three overarching objectives: To access and engage new audiences, to broaden and deepen experiences for existing audiences, and to develop artists and practice in Cornwall.
Over the last three years this has meant over 1,000 people have seen a free community performance and over 1,700 people received a ticket to Kneehigh’s groundbreaking theatre tent, The Asylum. Kneehigh have also hosted workshops for nearly 600 young people.
At the heart of the programme are the walks of Kneehigh writer and ‘Word Witch’ Anna Maria Murphy, who is the Lead Artist for Kneehigh Rambles. She has literally rambled across the ‘roads less travelled’ of Cornwall, gathering stories and building relationships with the people she has met along the way.
These stories are then ‘wildly reinvented’ and have formed the basis for a small scale touring show (also called Kneehigh Rambles) and an app of the same name, which can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play, and features stories from Perranporth
In 2013 the programme is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Joyce Carr Doughty Charitable Trust, West Cornwall Youth Trust, the John Thaw Foundation, the Creative Employment Programme and donations from the Kneehigh Family
Nick Fletcher, Chairman and Trustee, West Cornwall Youth Trust said, "Having previously supported the Kneehigh Theatre Trust, the West Cornwall Youth Trust was pleased to help them again when they re-applied to us earlier this year.
“Many young people who live in west Cornwall may have never been to live theatre. So, we saw their project - to run a number of workshops for young people in west Cornwall to introduce them to live theatre - as an exciting idea which culminated in their being offered the opportunity to attend a Kneehigh Theatre performance of Tristan & Yesult at the Hall for Cornwall in June"
Because of this valuable on-going funding, Kneehigh have been able to make ambitious plans for the programme’s future. This year there will be a series of workshops at the company’s rehearsal barns on the cliffs of south Cornwall, more performances for communities across Cornwall, and Anna will be walking again.
Kneehigh have also employed a local performance poet, Seth Hampshire, as a Creative Writing intern. His appointment was thanks to funds from the Arts Council through their Creative Employment Programme which is supporting up to 6,500 new apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and paid internships (graduate and non-graduate) across the arts and cultural sector.
He will be working alongside Anna Maria Murphy in the Rambles programme, observing and documenting events, facilitating and taking part in workshops and walks, writing and performing poetry, and writing a blog Anna said, “Seth has been assisting me in my workshops with young people for the connections project with Kneehigh, and also as part of The Story Republic with KEAP. So far he has performed his poems to hundreds of young people all over Cornwall and put the cool in poetry for them. He has been an absolute hit so far.”
Seth said, “I’ve had an amazing time so far - although it has only been a short time I have had so many new and exciting experiences, from helping run workshops to performing outside the hall for Cornwall, and I am looking forward to the months to come.”
To find out more about the Rambles Programme, click here