When I said I’d do a Styletasters resource on Kneehigh Theatre, I’d no idea how hard it would be! I thought: I live in Cornwall, I’ve seen nearly all the shows in the last twenty years, absolutely love them, have met Mike Shepherd … what could be the problem? Well, the problem is that I am being blocked at every turn and query, attempt to interview anyone, etc. And the further problem is that I understand what Mike [the principal blocker, since Kneehigh is his baby] is saying. He does not want Kneehigh to be set in stone, to be reduced to a body of theories. AND I ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTAND AND SYMPATHISE. I won’t do this.
Wish I could show him my approach in my many other resources. My practice is always to show a company, an actor, practitioner, or whatever, as something/body that continues to change and evolve. I KNOW that nothing creative is static. I know that even whatever I end up with about Kneehigh, there will be many more evolutions and changes in the company. And so it should be. It MUST be, if Kneehigh is to continue to be the exciting company it is. I KNOW that anyone who takes risks [as all good companies and practitioners must] fails sometimes. In fact that is part of what being any kind of artist is about: being prepared to fail.
Peter Brook’s metaphor of the tightrope is pertinent. The artist/ actor/ company steps onto the tightrope with courage. The abyss is below him on every side; sometimes he falls. But when he succeeds, he creates something unforgettable.
The Kneehigh mix of outrageousness and beauty, slapstick comedy and tragedy is unforgettable when it succeeds – they can turn our emotions in the space of the flip of a coin from hilarity to anguish. And I will accord them the respect due to a company that will continue to develop. Hopefully, I’ll be able to update the resource every now and again. But whatever the obstructions, I will write it. Thanks to the Archives at Falmouth University, I now have some of those questions answered … After many stumbling blocks, progress is being made at last!!