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A message from Mike Shepherd

A message from

Mike Shepherd

Kneehigh’s founder and creative powerhouse shares a thought on Kneehigh’s online archive …

“A big ‘hooray’ for the arrival of This Is Kneehigh!

Kneehigh were a touring company that embraced, and were embraced by, the world for forty years. I’m delighted that there is an archive to tell the stories of that time and which myself and Kneehigh artists can continue to contribute to….long may the spirit live on!

Kneehigh started in 1980 which coincided with the punk revolution and an ethos which fought against corporate greed and consumerism and which believed in non-conformity, anti-authoritarianism, a do it yourself ethic and not “selling out”. We were always based in Cornwall with a view of the horizon.

Scrapbook page relating to a kneehigh production from 1980. The right of the image shows two men on a harbour talking to audience members: one is an a check blazer, sunglasses, with slicked-back chair and holding a microphone. The other man is dressed as an eagle, with 'wings' raised about to take flight. Top right shows an image of said man in flight. Bottom left features a hand drawn flyer for the show.

Scrapbook page showing Kneehigh’s first show : The Adventures of Awful Knawful, 1980

We crossed borders and traveled far and wide whilst also looking after our own doorstep. It’s remarkable to look back to not so long ago when Cymbeline was in Brazil, Rapunzel in New York, Brief Encounter in the West End and Blast in Cornish village halls – all at the same time!

As time progressed the emerging climate of economic turmoil, political unrest and social disillusionment resulted in the early freedoms we experienced being lost.

In today’s landscape of data surveillance, the information superhighway, the mediatised wars and invisible viruses it’s time to challenge reality and start another revolution!


A sunny summer day in a rural setting, with blue sky and lush trees. the image is taken form up high, looking down upon men and women stood in a circle in a field, in front of a granite barn.

The Company rehearsing at the Barns

The Barns at Lamledra are where almost every Kneehigh show since 1990 was seeded, developed or produced. I am now running those barns with associated artists as a creative space for theatre, education, community and environment. Since Kneehish’s closure year we’ve launched new shows such as Calvino Nights, planted an orchard, created community events and hosted feasts and forums. There’s plenty more in the pipeline including the possibility of remounting existing Kneehigh shows.

As you start your own cultural uprising I hope you find inspiration here in This is Kneehigh.

I leave you with a quote from a much-loved actor:

“the more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from and what might be possible”

–  Alan Rickman