Thursday, 7 November 2013

Stephen Knight Memorial Workshop Fund

Steve, photograph by David Gilliland

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

Most of you will have heard by now about the very sad passing of Steve Knight, our dear friend and colleague.

Steve died suddenly and unexpectedly on 17th August. Everyone will have seen Steve’s incredibly beautiful work on stage – he brought something very special to all Firebird performances. We have received many tributes to Steve and his work; we have posted them all with Steve's biographical details and in the News section of the website.

There are many things we would like to do to remember Steve, to help us move on and take our memories of him into the future: we are still discussing our ideas and talking about how we will make them happen.

For now, however, we would like to introduce the Steve Knight Memorial Workshop Fund. This will be used to fund a day’s workshop every year for all members of Firebird Theatre. We think Steve would have very much approved of this idea.

The plan is to run the Steve Knight Memorial Workshop Fund for 5 years and then review what should happen next.

To enable us to do this we would need to raise £350 every year for 5 years to pay for the workshop. This amount would cover the cost of paying someone workshop fees and expenses. Any monies saved would automatically be carried over to the next year; any monies raised would be dedicated to this scheme only.

We have already been given a generous donation of £100 towards the first workshop and would like to open this up to others who feel they would like to donate to this fund.

Members of Firebird have said that they want to give to the fund in lieu of flowers for Steve. We know that many of you already donate through the Friends and Supporters Scheme so please do not feel obliged to give more – we are hoping that small donations will quickly add up to the amount we are looking for to get us started. We will ask our trustees to look at other ways of raising the target amount for next year and subsequent years.

Although this has yet to be confirmed, we are very much hoping that Olivier award winner, Kathryn Hunter, who worked with us on Faustus and has run other workshops for us, will lead the first Steve Knight Memorial Workshop for us next year. We will let you know as soon as this has been confirmed.

Please contact us if you would like more information. If you want to make a donation, please make cheques payable to Firebird Theatre; cash donations also welcomed.
Many thanks from us all in Firebird Theatre.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Steve Knight: tributes and obituary

Stephen Knight, 14/2/1966 – 17/8/2013

Photograph by Paul Blakemore
Most fans of Firebird have a single moment they can remember which encapsulates the company’s unique spirit and skill.  For me, this moment is Steve Knight’s dance solo in The Nine Lessons of Caliban, shown at Bristol Old Vic in 2012.  The company’s approach to the piece was simple and devastatingly powerful.  They read Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, paying particular attention to the things people said to Caliban and the things he says about himself, and exploring the connections these things had with their own lives.  How does it really feel to be named and treated as a monster?  These are questions which very few artists dare to ask and which even fewer have the insight to answer.  But Firebird found experiences in their own lives which brought Shakespeare’s words thrillingly to life.  In the middle of the show, Steve created a dance of breath-taking beauty and precision.  It was a transcendent moment because Steve was in such command of it, and the command so clearly gave him a thrill of joy, which spread unstoppably through the hearts of his audience.  It was an exquisite moment of theatre which embodied the spirit of Firebird.  Their ownership and joy in the craft is the thing that is most inspiring.  As Steve himself said “Being an actor has made me strong, if someone ever tried to stop me from acting, I wouldn't let them!”  He will be sorely missed, but his inspiration will live long in the memories of those who saw him play. Tom Morris, Artistic Director at Bristol Old Vic (BOV)

Photograph by Graham Burke
·       He was bright and intelligent and amazingly sensitive to people, to language, to stories and the human condition. He had a brilliant wicked sense of humour! He was brave and fearless and had an expressiveness of soul that emanated from his eyes and his fingers and his body. Kathryn Hunter, Patron of Firebird and Olivier Award winner
·       Steve will be a great loss to the company, especially all his many accomplishments. My thoughts go to his family. Jude McGreevy, trustee of Firebird
·       I did not know Steve but I remember him most vividly in the Firebird productions – he was a real leader and completely unafraid.

I realise that you will miss him and the extremely positive impact that he brought to the company.

It must be such a shock – I wish you and the group and his family well. He was a fine performer and will be greatly missed. John Retallack, Associate Director, Bristol Old Vic

·       So sad to hear about Steve, he was a kind and lovely man with a wonderful soul he was a huge part of Firebird and all that it stands for, His performances have always been beautiful and he will be sorely missed. My condolences go out to his family and friends at this difficult time but his memory will live on with us and in all that Firebird does. J Costello-Roberts, BOV Senior Technician (Studios)

·       I got to know Steve through my connection with Firebird Theatre. Steve was an incredibly thoughtful performer and was magnetic to watch on stage. I shall also remember Steve as a man with a delightful and mischievous sense of humour as well as someone who showed great support, patience and tenderness towards others. John Nicholson, actor, writer, Peepolykus

Photograph by Graham Burke
 ·       He was a rare talent indeed and such a sweet, sweet man. Tristan Sturrock, Theatre Damfino, Kneehigh

     ·       I feel honoured and privileged to have worked with Steve over the years
          and thinking of him and his sense of humour instantly brings a smile to
          my face. His dedication and natural ability as an immensely strong actor
          brought so much to everything he set out to do. I will miss him greatly
          and a large void will certainly be left. My love and thoughts go out to
          everyone at such a difficult time. Jo Cuthbert, trustee of Firebird Theatre
    ·       What can we say? This is such terribly sad news and our love & thoughts
         are with all of you and everyone who knew, loved and took inspiration
         from Steve as indeed we did (and will continue to do so).
        It’s difficult to convey enough tenderness and respect by email, so we’ll
        keep this short for now.
        The important thing is for you to all know that we’re thinking of you in what
         must be a really difficult time. If you can take some comfort in the
         knowledge that in his life he experienced the most wonderful friendship
         and support from his firebirds, then please do. Kate and Matthew, MAYK 

·       Steve was such a gentle man, with a burning passion for theatre. When I first met Steve at Blackhorse day centre in 1998, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. There was no question. He wanted to perform – professionally. I am so pleased that with Firebird Theatre he did get that opportunity and that he did it so well!  

Steve was a performer with humour and wit, sensitivity and strength – he could make an audience laugh or cry. He knew how to illustrate difficult feelings and emotions with beautiful movements and carefully crafted sequences. He was not afraid to put himself out there. He will be missed, by so many people. Laura Jerram, ex trustee for Firebird Theatre 
Photograph by Graham Burke

·       I will have such strong memories of Steve from first meeting him, his naughty laugh, his passion for theatre, his amazing Faustus, his movement skills especially with Caliban – a huge loss as a talent and as a person. Kevin Brice, Firebird Trustee 

·       Steve will live on strongly in the memory of anyone who saw him perform, for the haunting quality of his voice and the beauty of his movement in his interpretations through dance.  Chris & Bill Urwin, Firebird supporters and audience members 

·       So very sad to hear about Stephen’s death. His dance in Caliban remains one of the most moving pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen and I’ve spoken to so many people about it. Please pass on my condolences to his family. Jan Burke, supporter and audience member

Friday, 15 February 2013

Half price tickets and news

We are writing to remind you that you can book half price tickets for The Breadhorse up until the end of February, which is a very good deal and one we hope you can take advantage of.

Please book tickets from Bristol Old Vic, King Street, Bristol BS1 4ED

Box Office telephone 0117 987 7877 or online at

News update: We have been working with Tristan Sturrock (Peter Pan, Treasure Island, Mayday Mayday) to get the show ready for the March performances.

Tristan working with the Company in Rehearsal Room 1 at Bristol Old Vic

Sarah Moody and Mark Lawrence have been working with students from Briarwood and Kingsweston Schools and St Brendan’s Sixth Form College to make The Breadhorse Choir and musicians.

On Wednesday 30th January we performed the 12minute introduction to The Breadhorse, which was written by Firebird members working with Bristol poet and writer, Claire Williamson. The performance was part of Ferment Fortnight at Bristol Old Vic; we had a fantastic audience who gave us great feedback, see below. 

 “What stands out is the ensemble work - beautiful to see a company come together and work effortlessly together on stage.”

“…it’s mysterious and exciting.” Feedback from audience members, Ferment

We hope you will be able to join us at one of the performances of The Breadhorse. There will be a post performance discussion when you can talk to the Company after Thursday’s 2pm performance and Friday’s 8pm performance.
Working with Tristan Sturrock on The Breadhorse
Here are the comments we received from the Ferment Fortnight audience; each audience who come to see a peformance at Ferment are asked the same questions.
1.      A friend asks you to briefly describe what you have just seen. What would you say?
Something that makes us want to come again in March.
Something that makes you think.
On the surface you think you know what you are getting, but it’s mysterious and exciting.
It is really lyrical through the repetition.
Timeless with Romany gypsy feel of it.
Really exciting and made me want to re-live my childhood.
Takes you by surprise.
Rhymes brought back lots of memories.

2.      Can you tell us 3 thee things that particularly stand out/that you find particularly engaging?

The ensemble work - beautiful to see a company come together and work effortlessly together on stage. Amazing - focused.
The curtain call - you see a lot of companies of actors who just do curtain call as part of the thing, I have never
seen a curtain call with such enthusiasm which is really inspiring.
I like the pictures.
Performers really enjoying themselves.
The music really supported the work, makes you go on a journey which is really exciting.
I really loved it when all the playground rhymes where being repeated and layered.
Some of you were saying the same thing and you get a sense that things come together in the differences in the voices. That gives a sense of drama in the message.
It seems universal to accept anyone and everybody.
It’s a beautiful message.
Huge amount of feeling for 12 min.
it felt really timeless, really impressive for 12 mins.

3.      Where do you see the piece going next?
The idea of working with young people and stuff is really great.
A really solid piece of work to take into the community.
Exploring how it can become different things with engagement of community.

4.      -

5.      Any other comments?
The singer was very good; I want to know what the words are.
The words are from a Romany chant that is used to calm a horse.
Thank you to Firebird and congratulations and I am looking forward to March


Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Breadhorse Choir and Musicians

Mark working with the Choir; behind Mark,
 Ann Pugh filming the work
Mark Lawrence and Sarah Moody have been working with young people from Bristol schools to form a Choir that will sing the Kosko Gry! chant for the performances of The Breadhorse story in March in Bristol Old Vic's Studio.

The Choir are students and teachers from Briarwood School: Adam Maximan, Stuart Moss, Sandra Neale, Hazel Staddon and Stacey Young.

Kingsweston School: Deneshae Ayton, Reuben Loader, Curtis Poole and Nicky Tiley.

St. Brendan's Sixth Form College: Ella Bakker, Fiona Munro and Jess Murray.

From Bristol Old Vic's Made in Bristol: Jack Drewry and Tameka Mortimer.

Firebird volunteers: Jude McGreevy and Fiona Spence.

 from left to right: Sarah, Curtis, Reuben, Deneshae and Nicky 

From left to right: Jude, Tameka, Jack,Ella and Jess.

Sarah has composed music for the Choir and also for a group of musicians who will support the Choir and the performance of The Breadhorse. Mark is leading the Choir.

Sarah has also been working with Stephen Canby and Ed Goater from Firebird Theatre, and students Benji Cooper, Alex Preddy, Tom Taylor and James Wilkins from St Brendan's Sixth Form College to form a band of musicians to support the Choir and the performance of The Breadhorse.                                            

Alex, James and Steve working together

Ed in foreground, Benji and James
on accordian and percussion      

Benji, Tom and Sarah working together