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Listed as: Theatre Company, Theatre Organisation

office [at]


15 Walsingham Place
South West
kneehigh, asylum, emma rice, mike shepherd, physical theatre

Kneehigh now finds itself celebrated as one of Britain's most innovative theatre companies. For 30 years the company has created vigorous, popular and challenging theatre for audiences throughout the UK and beyond. Using a multi-talented team of performers, directors, designers, sculptors, administrators, engineers, musicians and writers, Kneehigh perform with the joyful anarchy that audiences have come to expect from this groundbreaking theatre company.

The Kneehigh Statement: Kneehigh tell stories. We make world-class theatre. We are based in Cornwall in our breath-taking barns on the south coast and create theatre of humanity on an epic and tiny scale. We work with an ever-changing ensemble of performers, musicians, artists, technicians and administrators and are passionate about our multi-disciplined creative process. We push the boundaries of our art and our business, and strive to surprise and challenge ourselves, and our audiences alike.

The Kneehigh Mission: We have a commitment to the ongoing spiritual health of ourselves, our community and the theatre. We want to collaborate with our fellow human beings, whether they are adults or children, professionals or outsiders and are hungry to meet and work with new and vivid people from different backgrounds. We want to create event and offer experiences that can profoundly change people's lives. We want to create relevant, innovative and emotionally charged work, to reach out in meaningful ways to the non-theatre going community, to build a non-elite audience and to celebrate our delicious time on the planet.

The Kneehigh Manifesto: We choose to be based and work in Cornwall, within a community but outside the ‘business'. We are inspired by Cornwall and calmed by Cornwall. Here, we dedicate ourselves to thinking outside the constraints of fear and neurosis. We fight for our process and each other. We believe in the principles of play, generosity, vulnerability, ambition, bravery, anarchy and instinct. We profoundly believe that human beings are capable of anything and push ourselves to find new depths, new joys and new excitements in our relationship to our work and our audience.


An Introduction, by Mike Shepherd, founder and Joint Artistic Director

"I returned home to Cornwall 30 years ago to make theatre. It was a place where you could make things happen. Kneehigh started as a company making work for children and their families, but we soon found ourselves creating challenging, accessible and anarchic theatre for a diverse local and national audience. 

Kneehigh builds a team for each project. The isolation of the barns, and the need to cook and keep warm provides a real and natural focus for our flights of imagination. This is not a conceit; it is a radical choice that informs all aspects of our work. Although much of our work is now co-produced with larger theatres, we always try to start the creative process at these barns, to be inspired by our environment and where we work. Both Tristan & Yseult and Cymbeline started life as outdoor shows, playing in epic but intimate spaces: Restormel Castle, The Minack, The Eden Project and Rufford Abbey. These elemental and charged spaces add a physical and vocal robustness to our performance style, which becomes further distilled when we work ‘indoors'. 

Kneehigh are an ever-changing ensemble, a kind of strange family, many of whom come from, or have chosen to live in, Cornwall: the extreme South West tip of the British Isles - outsiders, left-handers - engaging with the world with a sense of community and identity. As King Mark says in Tristan & Yseult, "We don't look inland there's not much point. No, outward, outward lies the way! Inland there's little to write home about and much less to say!".

The company changes for each project, there are those who have worked together for a long time and those who have just arrived. We look to surprise each other, to take leaps in the dark but there is no given formula for making the work. If we were to have a manifesto it might include words like generosity, passion, bravery, humility, ambition, instinct and irreverence. These words have become the secret principles that guide our work. 

Kneehigh is 30 years old this year. Although I could never have planned this; there has been no great plan, just dreams and aspirations - some of which I never thought would take this long to achieve! Kneehigh has survived because it has actively evolved. We have committed to our home, our craft, to each other and to change. It's a privilege to still be part of that journey."

Mike Shepherd - Founder Member

Key Projects


What is it you wanted to be? What is it you want to be? Escape for a moment, be extrovert, be introvert, be anonymous, be immortalised forever. Over the summer in the Asylum, people were asked to answer either of these questions and have their photograph taken by Steve Tanner. The collection of portraits taken during this residency are now part of an online exhibition

The Roads Less Travelled - by Anna Marie Murphy

In the build-up to the Asylum's opening, writer and long-time Kneehigh collaborator Anna embarked on a series of pilgrimages across Cornwall. Taking three journeys from the furthermost extremes of the county and travelling by foot, road, rail and air, Anna has collected and created a series of stories from her travels. Inspired by the places she has visited and teh people she has met, Anna has been busily compiling a book and a series of short films about her travels. On selected evenings during the Asylum season 2010, you could even get to hear a made-to-measure story of your own as Anna presents her own Asylum Shoe Shop.

Asylum 2010

From 27th July 2010, the Kneehigh Asylum opened at a site near Chiverton Cross, central Cornwall. In it, we presented three iconic shows from our past: The Red Shoes Blast! King of Prussia by Nick Darke There were all manner of treats in store with world class theatre, gorgeous food from Archie Browns and The Cheese Shop. Audiences enjoyed a drink at the Skinners wink, listened to music, met friends - old and new. Friday's were a particularly smashing night. With live music from the Kneehigh band, there were also guest spots from the fabulous Baghdaddies, Dalla and special guests and surprises along the way. We will be back again next year. Come play, watch, listen, dance, enjoy and delight in a true Kneehigh Knees-Up. To see up to date images of our Asylum, why not have a look at our Flickr page. All photos by the brilliant Steve Tanner

Key Personnel

Emma Rice
Joint Artistic Director/Chief Executive
Mike Shepherd
Joint Artistic Director
Paul Crewes
Simon Harvey
Assistant Director
Steph Curtis
Company Stage Manager
Charlotte Bond
General Manager
Liz King
Projects Coordinator
Chloe Rickard
Communications Coordinator
Bethany Lyne
Administrator and Development Assistant