Interview – Giles King

Interview with performer Giles King, a long standing member of the Kneehigh Family who has performed with us over many years. His most recent shows include 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips and Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs).

Video by Brett Harvey, 2015.

Patrycja Kujawska

Patrycja is a polish musician, dancer and actress who’s been a part of the Kneehigh family for over 7 years. Her first performance with us was in Don John and she’s since gone on to play parts such as Yseult in Tristan & Yseult and The Girl in The Red Shoes.



Patrycja studied violin at the Academy of Music in Poland. Before moving to UK she worked extensively with physical theatre company Dada von Bzdulow, City Theatre in Gdynia, and Non-Cabaret at the Baltic Sea Cultural Centre.

She also danced in shows choreographed by Tatiana Baganova and Avi Kaiser.

Patrycja wrote music for dance solo Face, a short animated film and Soundtrack for the Sculptures inspired by work of sculptor Sabrina Gruss; and co-composed music for Vincent Dance Theatre’s Test Run and Motherland.

From 2008 she has worked with Kneehigh, shows include: Tristan & Yseult (UK and US Tours); Don John (co-production with RSC); Midnight’s Pumpkin, the critically acclaimed The Red Shoes, and The Wild Bride which toured USA (New York, San Francisco), Australia and New Zealand.

For Vincent Dance Theatre Patrycja has made and toured: Drop Dead Gorgeous (2001); Let The Mountains Lead You To Love (2003); Punch Drunk (2004); Broken Chords (2005); Fairy ?Tale (2006); Test Run (2006, 2008); If We Go On (2009) and Motherland (2012).

(September 2015).

What We Do – Cultural Tourism

Interview with Mike Shepherd, Paul Crewes, Emma Rice about Cornwall, cultural tourism and why we do what we do.

Video by Brett Harvey.


An interview with Paul Crewes, Chief Executive of Kneehigh, and Deborah Aydon, Executive Director of Liverpool’s Everyman + Playhouse. Paul and Deborah talk about how and why we co-produce shows, specifically talking about Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs).

Video by Brett Harvey.

Mike Shepherd

Mike Shepherd started Kneehigh in 1980 and has worked almost exclusively for the company ever since. Mike is an actor, director and teacher and has an ongoing preoccupation with the conditions of creativity. He is currently joint artistic director with Emma Rice.

As well as touring the world as a Kneehigh actor, Mike runs the Connections programme with Anna Maria Murphy, “engaging creatively with communities through event and adventure ”, and is a pioneer of Kneehigh’s transformable and transportable venue, the Asylum.

Recent shows as an actor include: The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, The Red Shoes, Tristan and Yseult, Cymbeline, A Matter of Life and Death, Don John, Midnight’s Pumpkin, Steptoe and Son, 946 and the motion picture Anna Karenina.

As a director: Hansel and Gretel, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (puppet version with Little Angel Theatre), and The Kneehigh Rambles (co-directed with Emma Rice). Mike is developed a new version of The Beggar’s Opera in 2014, called Dead Dog In A Suitcase (and other love songs) with composer and conductor, Charles Hazlewood, and Kneehigh stalwart, Carl Grose.

Inside The Tin Drum – Interview with Charles Hazlewood

How did you go about creating the music for this production? What can people expect?

I’m not the sort of person who would write the whole score in a room on my own before I meet the company. The way I like to work is to build it up like wet clay with the actors in the space so what develops is what they give me organically.

I’m seeking to write music for each character which is really truthful and organic to that character and to the actor behind the character. It’s a case of being alive to the moment and creating the score as we go.

We don’t quite know what we’re calling this piece but it’s pretty much like an opera although it’s one which features psychedelia, R&B, soul, baroque music. It’s a really broad and eclectic mix of styles.

‘The Tin Drum’ sees you link up with Kneehigh once again after ‘Dead Dog in a Suitcase’. Are you hopeful this project will prove just as popular?

I’ve been reunited with Mike Shepherd and Carl Grose and I couldn’t be happier.

I really hope this is going to be as successful. Every artist making work hopes that it’s going to speak to the maximum number of people, gain some sort of traction and add something useful to people’s lives.

Will your theatrical version of ‘The Tin Drum’ be based more on the original novel or the 1979 film of the same name?

It takes elements from the book and elements from the film. I’d say it’s more faithful to the book than the film, but we’ve decided not to deal with the long, strange, rambling last section.

In the book Oskar (main character and narrator) throws himself down a flight of stairs to freeze his body at age three but emotionally, mentally and spiritually he continues to mature.

It’s a very bizarre situation you’ve got where you have a child who still looks three but actually has the mind, the instinct and the wisdom of someone getting towards their late teens.

At the end of the day Oskar is there, certainly in our version, to offer hope more than anything else. It’s a fable but it’s also a story with tremendous heart and with hope for a better future.

You’ve worked on a number of projects which mix orchestral music with more popular genres and you’ve also played Glastonbury multiple times. Are you keen to bring classical music more into the mainstream?

I’d like to bring the orchestra back into the mainstream. The irony is that most people on the planet engage with orchestral music on a daily basis because they play video games and watch movies.

People have got it in their front room every day but very rarely do they have the opportunity to go and see an orchestra in the flesh. A lot of that is to do with the fact that human beings are quite tribal.

There is a small hardcore of people who consider the orchestra to be their territory and a lot of them probably don’t actually want to share it.

Often people who aren’t familiar with the orchestral world will go to a concert and feel really out of place because they don’t know how to behave and they’ll get shifty looks from those who do know how to behave and I wholeheartedly reject all of that.

Great music is nothing to do with class or background or education – it’s what speaks to your heart and your head.

How far do you think is still to go to make orchestral music more accessible to the average listener?

Look, there is still a lot of work to be done but I do believe there have been tremendous strides forward.

However there’s still a sense of a gulf between the classical going public and the rest of us, which is why it’s so important for me to do things like headline a stage at Glastonbury. I did this with my symphony orchestra last year.

Live on television and in front of a massive crowd we played a whole symphony by Phillip Glass based on the David Bowie album ‘Heroes’. There were thousands and thousands of people; punch drunk with a whole day of Glastonbury, cider and the rest of it inside them, standing in absolute silence for 45 minutes – it was incredible.

‘Dead Dog in a Suitcase’ started its super successful run in Liverpool. Are you happy to be back here again?

We love this city. There’s no one in our team who doesn’t see this city and this theatre as their favourite place. There’s something about a Liverpool audience – Liverpudlians have got such heart.

And I’m not just saying this, I’ve noticed again and again when I’ve done gigs at the Philharmonic Hall that people are willing things to be good and they really want to embrace it and give it their all.

Of course if they don’t think it’s very good they’ll say so and I like that honesty that seems to prevail here. It’s a very special city and we could not be luckier or more excited to be premiering our new baby right here.

Interview by Lawrence Saunders for Your Move Magazine. See the original article here

Charles Hazlewood on The Tin Drum

The premise of a story about a boy whose drum has the power to challenge, intoxicate, transform, is wildly interesting to any musician. And yet I first came to The Tin Drum in its film version: a seminal and rightly celebrated piece of work, but one which (for me) throws up a fundamental problem. If you read the original book you witness Oskar screaming or drumming, (his two catalysts of choice) and your imagination experiences it as a smorgasbord of death-defying to seductive, cheeky to unearthly, plaintive to rabble rousing: in your mind’s ear you hear choirs or symphonies or breakbeats or dirty funk, an index of musical outpouring; in the film we tolerate a mildly malevolent child relentlessly bashing a biscuit tin. A dreadful, dead-end din, and way too literal! Who doesn’t remember being that child drumming the kitchenware and hearing worlds of excitement and possibility! My mum’s cake tins were timpani and steel pans and organs and trombones!

“In the film we tolerate a mildly malevolent child relentlessly bashing a biscuit tin. A dreadful, dead-end din, and way too literal!”

I took the decision early on to create the score for The Tin Drum with beautiful old-school analogue synthesisers and attendant drum pad tech. Whirry, fizzy, unpredictable, warm, weird. Arguably these instruments do exactly what my childhood mind did, in massaging, morphing and reinterpreting brittle taps into seismic, sensual waves of harmony and colour. Oskar’s drum must suggest light and shadow, horror and sweetness. It must be a catalyst. Wendy Carlos or Tomita did similar in reinterpreting Bach or Debussy through the mouthpiece of Moog synthesisers in the seventies. The same, yet different from the originals. A parallel world of the imagination, just like in childhood. (My first album purchases, on my seventh birthday, were Abba and Tomita. I’ve never been the same since). I adore the fact that four extraordinary musicians (Ross, Ruth, Alex and Dom I salute you) can massage this gorgeous cornucopia of synths and achieve a palette every bit as multi-coloured as an 80-piece symphony orchestra.

I don’t work like a conventional composer, i.e. writing a fully completed score in a room on my own. It’s all about the chemistry and opportunity in the rehearsal room. It’s probably because I am a conductor, first and foremost: my instrument is the orchestra, and there isn’t one of those in my front room. I come to Kneehigh rehearsals with a clear sense of core ingredients, outer architecture, but with the freedom to discover the essence of a musical personality through working the materials with the performer; hopefully what emerges feels authentic and true for each actor and the character they inhabit. They have truly had a major hand in the creation of all their music.

I obsessively love a vast dynamic spectrum, everything from brutally loud to on-the-breath quiet (just like Oskar’s drum). Yet we live in an age where virtually all theatre is radio mic’d; to my ear, this drastically limits the sound picture and the perspective – an actor might be singing from downstage left, and (s)he could be anywhere. And it takes much of the actor’s potency away. I find the overall effect colourless, monochrome, a bit like the film’s Oskar drumming versus the book’s. My interest is to create a three-dimensional sound world which is both dramatic and subtle, honouring the wildly wide-ranging capabilities of the audience’s ear, encompassing the very very loud and the very very quiet; where 10 actors can scream down 10 microphones, but conversely where within a tower of electronic sound we can still hear a single naked, unamplified voice.

Interview with Charles Hazlewood – Radio New Zealand

An interview with Charles Hazlewood for Radio New Zealand in October 2015, discussing Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) which toured to New Zealand in 2016.

Click here to listen to the interview
Please note this will direct you away from the Kneehigh Cookbook.


In this interview, Charles talks about this decisions behind the music for the show and what influenced him to re-create and update John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera.

This interview was taken from the Radio New Zealand Website, 2015.

Stu Barker

Stu Barker is a Composer and Music Director who’s worked with Kneehigh over many years. He is also an Associate Artist of the company.



Stu has worked extensively as composer /musical director with Kneehigh over the last 20 years. Work as composer or musical director includes: A Matter of Life and Death, Tristan & Yseult (National Theatre); Brief Encounter (Broadway / West End); Cymbeline, Don John (RSC); 946 – The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips (Kneehigh); Hansel and Gretel (Bristol Old Vic); The Bacchae, The Wooden Frock (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Nights at the Circus, The Red Shoes (Lyric Hammersmith); The Wild Bride, Rapunzel, Midnight Pumpkin (Battersea Arts Centre) and Pandora’s Box (Northern Stage). Previous work for Shakespeare’s Globe includes: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale and Romeo and Juliet. Stu has also worked with Bristol Old Vic, Donmar Warehouse, Welfare State International, Contact Theatre, Horse and Bamboo, Liverpool Lantern Company, And Now and Travelling Light. Television includes: The Cult of the Suicide Bomber and Beyond Grief. He is also trombonist with C. W. Stoneking & His Primitive Horn Orchestra.

(September 2016)

Ian Ross

Ian (Fluff) Ross is a Musician, Composer and Associate Artist of Kneehigh. He’s worked with the company for many years as both performer and Music Director. Notable shows include Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, and Tristan & Yseult.



Ian is a Bristol based multi-instrumentalist. He leads the band Eleven Magpies.

As composer for theatre: Hansel and Gretel, The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (Kneehigh); A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (Kneehigh and The Little Angel); Frankenspine, Mayday Mayday, Orpheus and the Furies, The Table of Delights (Damfino); When the Shops Shut (Cscape) and Universerama (Squashbox).

As musician for theatre: Orpheus and the Furies, The Table of Delights (Damfino); Brief Encounter, Don John, Hansel and Gretel, The Red Shoes, The King of Prussia, Midnight’s Pumpkin, The Wild Bride, Tristan and Yseult, Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs), 946 (Kneehigh); Alaska (Blackfish): Peter Pan (Bristol Old Vic) and 101 Dalmations (Tobacco Factory).

As musical director for theatre: Brief Encounter (Kneehigh/Australia Tour); Tristan and Yseult (Kneehigh/US Tour); Rebecca and 946 (Kneehigh).

Film includes: Weekend Retreat.

(June 2016)