We work with an everchanging ensemble of theatre-makers, performers, musicians, artists and technicians, alongside our core staff. We are passionate about our multi-disciplined creative process, the conditions of creativity, and the ongoing development of this ensemble. For us, company is everything. It is our greatest asset.
“From starfish I have learned that if we keep our core intact, we can regenerate. We can fall apart, lose limbs, and re-grow them as long as we don’t let anyone threaten that central disc’s integrity. We have to nourish ourselves with the resources we are surrounded by, with our community assets if you will, and by doing so we help to keep ecosystems delicately balanced.” JoLilian T Zwerdling
We are committed to keeping a sense of company through nurture, recovery and practice, and to prototype performance and event for a post Covid world. We choose to do that from our Barns in Cornwall. Cornwall is where we’re based. We are inspired and calmed by Cornwall. The Barns and their environs are our playground and our spiritual home.
*from The King of Prussia By Nick Darke
July to September
Resist and Rebuild
“To collaborate with our fellow human beings (who we profoundly believe are capable of anything)”
ADAPT We are reimagining the Coastal Communities Programme of activity using digital platforms: Windows to the World saw 17 creative challenges posted online and we increased Cookbook content to support teachers, students and home schooling. Tom Jackson Greaves’ short film The Neon Shadow will be released at the end of August. St. Austell and Eden stories are being added to the Walk With Me app. We’ve also worked with Kyla Goodey on her Homesgrown project providing a Great Night In for people with learning disabilities, and Anna Murphy and Scott Lavene from the Outsiders Project held writing workshops with people in recovery at Cusgarne House in St Austell.
HOUSE IN ORDER We are embarking on three weeks of planning and preparing for future activity. A team combining varied practical skills and company knowledge is working to sort, rearrange, and prepare the Barns, stores and Asylum for future outdoor event and socially distanced fire-lit performance, and for Coastal Communities activity.
RECOVERY We will invite revered accomplices, creative teams, artists and core staff to a series of “long weekends” at the Barns. Small groups will be given the time to gently re-engage, talk, eat and sit around a fire under the stars, to share, plot, help and plan.
RESOURCE Alongside this activity we are focusing on building resources from Trusts and Foundations, grants, our Friends scheme, co-producers, and strategic partnerships.
September to December
Restore & Create
REFUEL This is an essential opportunity for Kneehigh performers, artists and identified Cornish performers to play. A week’s training course to re-engage those theatre-making muscles and to remember the joy of performance.
PROTOTYPE PERFORMANCES A small team of multi-disciplined performers will explore Italo Calvino’s Italian Folk Tales, creating rough, simple performances by firelight. Calvino’s stories come from desperate plague-ridden times. They are bawdy, funny, full of strange charm and pertinent to now.
“Theatre of the human condition in its greatest need. It contains the essentials of life, trying to eat, trying to procreate, and trying desperately to avoid death!”
Jacques Lecoq describing Commedia dell’arte
IMAGE – Charcoal drawing by Lyndie Wright May 2020
THE SPACES BETWEEN US It’s never been more important for companies to join forces. We have previously worked with Good Chance Theatre alongside refugees in the Calais Jungle. This autumn Good Chance will bring a team to the Barns and collaborate with Kneehigh artists to further explore outdoor event and performance, and the role theatre can play in bringing people together in ways that feel safe.
“Much of the industry-wide discussion around how we preserve our institutions is geared towards a hoped-for return to familiar normality when all this is over. Our provocation is that this is not enough. Let’s use this time as an unprecedented opportunity to rethink, redesign, and reimagine. To forge new ways of creating and engaging. To connect to new audiences and build new communities. And to make a bolder argument for the importance of art in local communities, public health, education, and across our society.”
Joe Robertson Good Chance Theatre
CELEBRATION AND WINTER WELCOME AT THE BARNS The Barns will be transformed with a socially distanced installation and exhibition to celebrate all things Kneehigh and our 40th year. Here, we’ll present beauty, wit, minor miracles, music, firelight, food and short performances, as well as readings and excerpts of past and future shows.
Get out of the house!
“Our commitment to the ongoing spiritual health of the theatre”
ASYLUM – “AN OASIS OF HUMAN ENGAGEMENT” (APR-OCT 2021) In the Asylum we light fires, eat, challenge, provoke, make music and party. We can perform and welcome a wider, non-theatre going community. We are not elite. We aim to be a rare oasis of human engagement in an increasingly corporate landscape. Kneehigh is profoundly political. The Kneehigh Asylum is a space where people can go on a journey and land in a place they never even knew existed.
Informed by our previous explorations with Good Chance, and the Winter Welcome mini festival at The Barns, we plan to erect the Asylum in Cornwall for an extended festival season in 2021. There will be food, music, performance and event.
Generation Next There are six long-time Kneehigh artists who love the idea of the practical possibilities of passing on their considerable skills throughout this journey and Asylum festival season. This also extends to our board, team and wider creative ensemble, who will nurture and encourage the talents of the next generation.
“Outward! Outward Lies the Way!” - Tristan & Yseult
We have a history of performing everywhere, with a range of shows that can play indoors, outdoors, on cliff tops, in car parks, nightclubs, quarries and rivers. The scale of our shows varies excitingly from the intimate to the epic.
The Asylum will be on the move, with a wildly exciting programme of shows, events, music, food and celebrations. Keep your eyes peeled. We could pop up anywhere.
We have several shows in development and projects are evolving, including Wagstaffe the Wind Up Boy, written by Carl Grose and directed by Mike Shepherd. When venues are able to welcome back their audiences, we have shows that are ready for touring: On the smaller scale The Dancing Frog and A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and for mid to large scale audiences, Ubu! A Singalong Satire, and an opera double bill of The Tin Drum and Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs).
Artistic and planning discussions are ongoing, which progress the development of various works and the opportunities for them to be realised. We will share these plans with you very soon.