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