'Brand Kneehigh': Globalisation and Cultural Exchange within Kneehigh Theatre Company

Catherine Trenchfield

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores Kneehigh Theatre Company's notions of "Brand Kneehigh" in relation to theories of globalisation. It will define Kneehigh’s theatrical brand, indicating Cornish cultural identity as a core component combined with the importance of international influences through cultural exchange. By looking at the history of this company, analysis of key productions will reflect on qualities attributed to “Brand Kneehigh” and consider the ‘local’ and ‘global’ nature of their work. This research will contribute to a developing knowledge of Kneehigh, spanning not only a number of years, but decades: offering a detailed (and durational) study of a theatre company. The selection of productions for examination reveals the changes and reinventions Kneehigh have undergone to incorporate shifting interests and socio/economic engagements. The thesis will explore Kneehigh's ambitions to establish themselves as a company delivering material that is ‘popular’ in appeal, meeting the needs of a Cornish (local) community and international (global) audience. However, tensions working between local and global interests will be exposed, with an investigation into Kneehigh’s own cited solution: their self- created performance space the Asylum. The thesis will present my experiences of research within the Kneehigh Archive), and attendance at the Asylum. By using both performance and archive, I illustrate how the company has developed a brand that is a hybrid of local and global artistic influences and ambitions. It will also examine tensions Kneehigh experienced in trying to create a global theatre product whilst staying true to their Cornish cultural identity. My consideration of the Kneehigh Theatre archive triggers discursive responses to performance and archival research, offering an ‘experiential’ archive structure. I examine the ‘experiential’ environments that global brands and theatrical companies use to establish their identity, strengthen their product and reinforce their brand. Ultimately my argument establishes Kneehigh working towards an equilibrium between localism and globalism through cultural exchange.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Worth, Libby, Supervisor
Award date1 May 2021
Publication statusUnpublished - 2021


  • Kneehigh
  • Globalisation
  • Performance
  • Theatre

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