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MIKE SHEPHERD TO STEP DOWN AS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF KNEEHIGH

After 40 glorious years, Kneehigh’s Artistic Director, Mike Shepherd, has announced his decision to leave Kneehigh. Mike wrote:

“For over 40 years, Kneehigh has been more than a job, more than a company and more than a vocation. Kneehigh has been my life’s work and, in turn, the story of my life. I have danced, sang, laughed and raged. I have run on the clifftops and travelled the world from Stenalees to Shanghai (and most places between and some beyond!).

I have led and I have followed as Kneehigh journeyed through different chapters; always riding the changes that life brings with generosity. And I have always embraced change, understanding that it is the life blood of art. Of all the things that have been created, the strongest are the friendships that have been forged and it is these that are the most precious. Roots have grown so deep that nothing will change or shake them. This is the end of this glorious book, but not the end of the wonderful adventures and friendships that are to come and will spring up anew. Thank you to all the Kneehigh family. Onwards! With a glint in my eye and a spring in my step…”

On behalf of the Board, its Chair Hedda Archbold stated:

“Mike Shepherd created a brilliant jewel of a theatre company. Having founded the company in 1980 he has maintained a leading role with the company for 40 years and, with Bill Mitchell, Emma Rice and Carl Grose created hugely popular and critically acclaimed productions. With this vibrant company, Mike has ensured a truly impressive legacy. The UK’s theatre is peppered with artistic talents who developed their craft alongside Mike at the Barns. We wish him the very best for his future.”

Carl Grose, Deputy Artistic Director also left Kneehigh at the end of January and has released the following statement: “Since attending my first production at Truro City Hall as a wide-eyed thirteen year old, I have loved this extraordinary and unique theatre company. I still can’t believe I ended up getting a job with them 27 years ago. For me, as for so many of us, Kneehigh has been a huge part of my life. I have had the honour of working with the most inspiring people. I have had the opportunity to tell stories to audiences all over the world. What a privilege it’s been. But all good things come to an end. I have decided I want to commit more time to my writing. To the friends made, to the audiences played, and most importantly, to my Kneehigh family, thank you. It’s been the ride of my life”.

Hedda, Chair of the board stated:
“The Board, the team and the Kneehigh family want to pay tribute to Carl Grose for the fantastic contribution he has made to the company. Having joined 27 years ago as a performer, Carl has gone on to write many of the company’s most acclaimed shows, which brought his rich, vibrant and visual storytelling to life. We wish him the very best in all his new adventures and look forward to seeing much more of his work be brought to life.”

Kneehigh would also like to take this opportunity to thank Anna Maria Murphy. Anna has been an inspirational artist and writer on many Kneehigh projects over the years from the early days of the company. Anna’s work as lead artist on the two-year Coastal Communities project will be wrapping up at the end of May as planned with a project that will be announced later this week.

Anna stated:

“After what I think is almost thirty five years of being involved in Kneehigh, it’s time for me to leave and on to adventures new. It has been a glorious ride, of which I am very proud to have been a part of. The friendships and collaborations will hopefully endure. Here’s to a new chapter.”

While this has been and continues to be an incredibly difficult time for Kneehigh and for theatre across the country it has and does give us time to reflect and think about new ways of working and consider our future.

Kneehigh has always aimed for the highest quality and been artistically ambitious and innovative in its approach to theatre making, while our strength has always centered around the collective and we intend to continue working in as collaborative a way as possible, to ensure that we remain relevant to the diverse communities we aim to serve and closely engaged with the challenges of the contemporary world.

We are still working out what is possible to produce and perform in 2021 but as always, we are working with some amazing artists, we have a couple of wonderful locations lined up for the Asylum and are developing some very ambitious ideas. Watch this space!

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our artists and collaborators, supporters and friends who have made Kneehigh what it is, a thank you for 40 years of hard work and sheer brilliance.