Catherine Trenchfield

December 2012 § Leave a comment

Cultural Hybridization with Kneehigh Theatre Company
tensions between the local and the global
12th December @ 6.00pm

Still from 'The Asylum' by Kneehigh Theatre Company

Still from ‘The Asylum’ by Kneehigh Theatre Company

My research explores Kneehigh Theatre Company’s notions of ‘Brand Kneehigh’ and their self-created and contained environment called ‘The Asylum’, a multi functioning performance venue containing a number of Kneehigh productions and products under one roof.  This is a company who has achieved global success and positive responses in the UK, Australia, China, Lebanon and America amongst other international locations. Considerations into Kneehigh’s marketing, establishing themselves as a company delivering a popularist art form, in addition to theatre designed for a Cornish (local) audience and cosmopolitan (global) audience can be reflected upon using theories of globalization and cultural hybridization as a ‘gaze’ to analyze the work. The presentation would look into the diverse nature of the company’s work, not only encompassing their site specific theatre and ‘wild walks’ environmental events, but would also look at the company’s ideas of a total entertainment experience likened to a festival event and Disney style theme park. The company’s ideas of a ‘total’ entertainment experience including live music, food and drink, a range of theatre events and company products such as CD’s and books, as well as illustrating the artistic benefits of their theatre productions, would be examined.  The immersive nature of their performance work would be considered in terms of cultural hybridity, a concept evolving out of globalisation where varied cultural/social influences can equally co-exist rather than be adversely homogenised.  To what extent has this brand successfully evolved/developed? Can the immersion of cultural hybridity be successfully achieved or ambitiously overreached? What impact will, the active ‘branding’ and marketization of the company’s work, that has local and yet global content, have on their theatrical product? Finally, what tensions are evident or experienced by the company who attempt to create a global and popularist theatre product, but also wish to stay true to their Cornish national and cultural identity?


Brief Bio
I am a part-time PhD student in my 3rd year of my studies in addition to working as full time a lecturer of FE and HE at a college in West London, in which I am a course leader and tutor for the HND (Higher National Diploma) in performing arts. Previously I have worked as an actor and project manager for 2 theatre in education companies, one of which was sponsored by British Telecom to perform the Talk-works production, containing a 30 minute play and 1 hour educational workshop to primary schools around the UK and Northern Island, exploring good communication skills. I have developed my skills in theatre, as well as an educational practitioner through my recent work with Wireless Theatre Company, recording a radio play in August 2011 and through my work as a GSCE and A Level examiner for the exam board Pearson. (formerly Edexcel) During my work as a lecturer I have developed an interest in Kneehigh Theatre Company, taking my students to watch productions and discussing the creative elements inherent in their work, this interest has lead to my current studies examining their work through a hybrid/global gaze.

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