Your browser is no longer supported. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Search for anything...

Archive Item:

The Wild Bride – An Introduction by Emma Rice

Item Details

Read more on The Wild Bride – An Introduction by Emma Rice from the Kneehigh Cookbook archive.

I first had a stab at this epic story in 2002. Commissioned by Eva Magyar and her company The Shamans. Bill Mitchell (designer then and now) and I travelled to Hungary to create a show based on the ancient story of the Handless Maiden. My memory is that it was rather beautiful: lyrical, full of flowers and poetry, pretty frocks and soft kid leather.

I returned home with a sense of achievement. I was proud of the work, had had a great time and held the show in great affection. I put the show on my sorted shelf and forgot it, thinking my work was done.

I was, however, fortunate that I didnt understand Hungarian as it became painfully clear with time that the show had been a monumental flop, and ended soon after it began. My Hungarian friends had protected me from the truth and without the clarity of ever having read a review or understood audience feedback I remained in blissful ignorance for many years. Anyway! What did they know? The show was done.

But then came the knocking. I began thinking of the story again. Dreams circled, fragments of memory came into focus and I had a dawning awareness that I had indeed missed the heart, soul and very point of this extraordinary tale. Older, more bruised, and more myself, I decided to make this piece again. Only now was I beginning to understand what it is to do a deal with the devil and what it is to endure.

We drew inspiration from the great depression, from African landmine victims and from Robert Johnson.

So, here it is. No party frocks for my women this time. This time there is dirt and blues and brutality. We drew inspiration from the great depression, from African landmine victims and from Robert Johnson. We used our own experience to explore the depths of the human experience and also the possibilities. And this is where story, theatre and life collide! Nuzzling right alongside the archetypal trials that our heroine endures, there is the real wonder of the people playing her and playing alongside her. As she feels that she cant go on, another is singing like a siren, as she feels betrayed, another dances like a dervish and as she begins to heal a band plays with passion and empathy. The very people telling the story teach us that we are in this together, that we can go on, that we are capable of anything, that there is indeed hope. We are heroes all: living, breathing, hurting, fighting, enduring contemporary heroes.

So. This story has come of age. Or perhaps I have. Heres to getting up in the morning, to looking forward and back and to being firmly rooted in the moment. But most of all, heres to slow, quiet, sneaky healing.

As the show says:

“Now I know why no one notices a tree as it grows
Because their deep roots creep down oh so slow
And their clever branches quickly learn
To blossom only when your back is turned

Emma Rice, Director and Adapter, 2011

Also from this show