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Interview: Emma Rice - Artistic Director of Kneehigh

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Kneehigh's acclaimed production of Brief Encounter arrives at the Oxford Playhouse on 14 July and I grabbed the opportunity to ask Emma Rice (Artistic Director of the company) a few questions about this and other projects.

1 – How did Kneehigh come into being?

In 1980, Mike Shepherd gathered together a group of like-minded ‘anarchists’ to put together frantic, funny and fearless theatre shows. All untrained, they performed in village halls and harbours, beaches and forests. They quickly aquired a huge following of devoted fans who remain passionate to this day.

2 – Were you nervous about taking on such an iconic movie?

No. Perhaps I should have been, but I see myself as a storyteller and stories are there to be re told. I love the film, but also felt that I could bring my own experience to the project and make something fresh, witty and contemporary. I have always respected the source material, but have taken it on a new journey. I’m sure that Noel Coward would approve if he could see it!

3 – If there was one work (be it play, poem, novel or film) you would love to tackle with Kneehigh, which would it be?

One day I will do a version of Cinderella! It is the ultimate in folk stories and the ultimate feminist coming of age story. My Cinderella will rock! One day soon I hope!

4 – What is your biggest theatrical disappointment?

Not being able to understand Shakespeare!

5 – What is next for Emma and Kneehigh?

We are going to build a fantastic, beautiful, surprising and magical tent – The Asylum. In it we will be able to present our work, feast, sing and party. We will be able to land anywhere in the world and deliver Kneehigh wonders that no one will ever forget. Watch this space!


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