Cornwall's world famous Kneehigh Theatre Company is back - in digital form at least. 

Thanks to a new initiative with Falmouth University, more than 1,500 photographs, interviews, designs, programmes, and footage from Kneehigh has been preserved. 

Following Kneehigh’s closure in 2021, a special project was launched to ensure that the internationally renowned company’s cultural and educational legacy was preserved for future generations.

Building on the existing collection that the University’s archive team has held since 2010, archivists sought to ensure that key materials and records from Kneehigh were safeguarded and protected as part of a new interactive platform,

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The digital platform carried a myriad of educational resources including photographs, programmes, posters, recordings, interviews, and study guides which are publicly available and accessible to the world from today (Monday, April 17).

Falmouth Packet: Tristan and Yseult at Restormel Castle, 2003 Tristan and Yseult at Restormel Castle, 2003 (Image: Steve Tanner)

Kneehigh was an internationally recognised company with global reach. They toured across the world and pushed the boundary of how the theatre was devised and performed, developing a multitude of productions, and racking up critical acclaim throughout its 40-year history.

Its closure in 2021 sent shockwaves across the theatre community, but Falmouth’s archivists were able to step in to ensure that production recordings, interviews, photographs, programmes, evaluation reports and behind-the-scenes content research and development materials would continue to thrive in a new digital repository.

Some of the beneficiaries of Kneehigh’s new digital home include Elaine Cox, from The Malling School in Kent. Like many drama teachers in the South West and beyond, she was an avid user of Kneehigh’s popular ‘Cookbook’ teaching resource, due to Kneehigh being featured on the English curriculum.

‘Cookbook’ was an online teaching resource that helped educators and practitioners understand and teach Kneehigh’s dynamic brand of community-based, inclusive, and experimental theatre. The resource was no longer accessible following Kneehigh’s closure.

However, thanks to the university’s archive and the launch of ‘This is Kneehigh’, the electric and "inspiring" records will be publicly available again.

Falmouth Packet: Mike Shepherd in Kneehigh's Ubu! Mike Shepherd in Kneehigh's Ubu! (Image: Steve Tanner)

Hearing that the Kneehigh tips, tricks and secrets will now once again be fully accessible for other teachers across the globe via Kneehigh’s new digital home.

The Malling School’s Performance Art lead, Elaine Cox said: “Students enjoy learning about a practitioner that is UK based and feel so connected to the landscape of Cornwall. There are many similarities between Cornwall and where we live, particularly around tourism, and this helps with their understanding.

“We spend a long time looking at what was going on when Kneehigh started – politics, tourism in Cornwall etc. Over the years we’ve focused on Tristan and Yseult and The Flying Lovers, for which the Cookbook has been so important to support students with their work.

“Having a new home for the Kneehigh resources means we can continue to embed their work within what we teach and provide students with more information than a general internet search can provide. We continue to embed Kneehigh within our work with key stage 4 and 5 students, and hope to continue doing that for a long time to come...”

Mike Shepherd, Kneehigh’s founder said: “Kneehigh were a touring company that embraced and were embraced by the world for 40 years. I’m delighted that there is an archive to tell the stories of that time and which Kneehigh artists and I can continue to contribute to…. long may the spirit live on!”

Falmouth Packet: Cast of '946' featuring Sex Education and Dr Who actor Ncuti Gatwa (centre)Cast of '946' featuring Sex Education and Dr Who actor Ncuti Gatwa (centre) (Image: Steve Tanner)

Past cast members in Kneehigh productions include actor Ncuti Gatwa, famous for his standout role in Netflix teen drama Sex Education – and soon to be the BBC’s new Doctor Who lead. Ncuti starred in Kneehigh’s ‘946’ in 2015. is now live and Mike Shepard will be sharing Kneehigh’s story in a talk / Q&A at St Austell’s Arts Theatre on Friday, April 21.