There’s a treat in store for theatregoers in Cornwall this summer. Ground-breaking company Kneehigh are performing a moving wartime play, 946, in the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan.
This new production is a collaboration between author Michael Morpurgo and Kneehigh’s Artistic Director, (who is shortly to take on that role at Shakespeare’s Globe) Emma Rice. 946 is adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful children’s book, The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips.
Set in Devon, it’s the story of the rehearsal for the D-Day landings seen through the eyes of a young girl. Lily lives on a farm by the sea in Slapton – a quiet life, until the villagers are abruptly ordered to leave their homes as their village becomes the training ground for Operation Tiger. Lily’s beloved cat, Tips, has other ideas…
“My mum gave this story to me and said it was something she longed to see Kneehigh do,” says Emma Rice. Michael Morpurgo is enthusiastic about the joint project: “I have witnessed first-hand the way Kneehigh weaves a tale and makes it live on stage for us. For my story to play a part in this is simply a joy.” Music and puppetry add other wonderful elements to this beautiful tale of relationships in war.
Unlike most other outdoor theatre productions, Kneehigh’s audiences do not need to have one eye on the stage and the other on the clouds. The Cornish-based theatre company has its own “flexible and nomadic” structure: The Asylum. A purpose-built tent, The Asylum is a unique – and practical – performance space. It also has a fully licensed bar which also sells hot drinks and cakes.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan provide an evocative setting for 946. The former manor house on the estate was itself used for war work during the Second World War, having already served as a convalescence home during the First World War – the war that started the demise of the gardens, as most of its young gardeners were sadly lost.
You can buy a combined ticket for both 946 and Heligan if you want to make the most of the play’s beautiful garden setting. Hall for Cornwall are providing the box office service – visit their website or contact them on 01872 262466 to find out more. The play runs from 25 July – 23 August, with various evening and matinee performances available.
At The Cornwall, we’re very excited that our neighbours at Heligan are hosting the fabulous Kneehigh again. As we’re just a skip and a jump from the gardens, you can make a real event of your theatre trip, by coming to eat with us, either before an evening performance or after a matinee. Acorns Brasserie is a great place to eat with children, or if you are attending a Sunday matinee performance, how about slotting in Sunday lunch with us before you take your seats?
To really make Kneehigh at Heligan an event this summer, keep the post-theatre magic going by staying with us after the show. If you are attending 946 with your children, we have some lovely family rooms in our contemporary Woodland Hotel; or for a real family gathering, our self-catering Woodland Homes are available.
Kneehigh, Heligan, Michael Morpurgo and being spoiled at The Cornwall – we really can’t think of another nice way to spend a summer evening.