Reflections on 2019 as we turn to face the year ahead

2020 brings exciting plans and new projects for WildWorks. 2019 was a highly unusual year for us, as we didn’t present any work to audiences! This was the result of the lull in new project planning that happened just after Bill passed away. However, behind the scenes we’ve been as busy as ever.

In October, I was invited to speak at the Regional New South Wales Artstate conference. Pulling together my presentation was a timely moment that caused me to reflect on the months leading up to it and the challenges we had been facing as a company.  I had been asked to speak on the theme of ‘arts in the age of uncertainty.’ During my visit the wild fires in the region were just beginning and in Tamworth, NSW, where the conference was taking place, the tension from the unbreaking heat was palpable; a city a few years into drought with a scorched landscape and a polite request to use the 3-minute egg timer next to the shower. I cannot reflect on my time there without acknowledging the devastation that has happened across large parts of the area since I returned and the uncertainty that is now facing thousands of people and wildlife.

I used my conference slot to talk about WildWorks’ process and projects and how we are used to working with uncertainty. We embrace uncertainty; be that working in public spaces, unpredictable weather or working with communities who themselves are living in uncertain times through conflict, loss of industry or ever changing economics. And how in late 2015 we were thrown into a world of our uncertainty with Bill’s cancer diagnosis. With Bill still at the helm, we carried on but always a little unsure of what was around the corner, contingency plans always at the ready, and then of course in 2017 the contingency plan became ‘the plan’. The early focus was to deliver Wolf’s Child in Cornwall and despite some interesting issues with mud and rain we had a great success and similarly with 100: UnEarth in 2018 (except a heat wave not torrential rain!) however since 2017 the big question has been ‘what do we do next’?


I’m sure no one will be surprised to know there was a period of time since Bill’s death where it felt like we were lost in a deep fog. Knowing we wanted to carry on but laden with grief and unsure of where the path was. I asked whether the organisations listening to me speak ever talked about succession planning or confronted the ‘what ifs’ in their own worlds- something that I think is particularly pertinent for artist led companies.


Over the last 12 months we have been joined by some new board members, we have explored new project ideas with R&D playtime, we are refreshing our branding (watch this space) and have had the headspace away from being on the frontline of project delivery. Each of these tasks has led to conversations about our values.  In our projects, we know that the strongest outcomes in our work come from working with communities where there are clear and strongly held values and we have trusted our values to guide the process. As a result, we reminded ourselves that we have nothing to fear from uncertainty and have realised that in our values we find the answers. By following and trusting in our values the fog begins to clear and the path to the future is visible again.


Over the next few months we are going to discuss more about these values through a series of blogs by the team and how they present themselves in our process. And of course, we will start to share our plans for the future.


We are an altered company without Bill but the values of WildWorks are strong and if a project holds those values closely the work will continue and we are excited about it. 2020? Bring it on!


Happy New Year








Bill’s Attic Auction – a lot of Lots

The full auction catalogue is here … inside you’ll find details of each of the 21 Lots which have been kindly donated by friends and family. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated.

If you can’t make it to the auction on Thursday 5th December at The Redruth Drapery in Cornwall you can still bid.

We are accepting sealed bids. Email your bid, by noon on Thursday 5th December 2019 to [email protected] Rose will bid up to that amount for you at the auction. Mark your email BID CONFIDENTIAL.

Auction items as at 28 Nov 2019

Bill’s Attic is moving house

Bill Mitchell, internationally recognised Artistic Director of WildWorks and Kneehigh, created shows that dazzled: 100:The Day the World Changed; The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings; Tristan and Yseult; Wolf’s Child; The Passion. (more…)

Bill’s Attic Fundraiser … Save the Date

A call out to friends, fans and family. Help us to give Bill Mitchell’s Attic, a space packed with 40 years of collection and creativity, a new life.

On Thursday 5th December we’ll be hosting an evening of celebration and fundraising with live music, dinner, charity auction, surprises. More information coming soon.

Thursday 5th December 2019

The Redruth Drapery, Cornwall.


Our Canadian exchange

In the autumn of 2018 we were contacted by a Canadian theatre company asking us whether we would be interested in talking to them about applying to the New Conversations, a fund created by British Council, the High Commission of Canada in the UK and Farnham Maltings with support from Arts Council England.



What to do on #CanadaDay ? Actually, it’s the day we wave goodbye to our shores for a week as we set off on the first leg of our Canadian exchange. Like an excited school exchange student we’ve been counting down the days to go on our artistic adventure.


Delving into the archives

Have you ever wondered what happens to the all material used on the making of a WildWorks production? We set Amy, a student from University of Exeter, a challenge to explore the WildWorks Theatre archive held at the University’s Penryn Campus. In a  series of blogs Amy will show you what she has found during her delve into the archive.


Len Gibson- Queen’s Birthday Honours List

We are delighted to hear that Len Gibson has been awarded A British Empire medal in the Queen’s birthday honours list this weekend for ‘Services to World War Two Remembrance and the community in Sunderland.”


Welcome to our new Board

We had our first meeting with our brand new board last week, well, all bar one as Trustee Chris Morris was away working. See you next time Chris!

A Beautiful Friendship- World Poetry Day

It was brilliant to see British actor, Olivia Coleman, honoured at the Oscars a few weeks ago. I’ve saved her speech to watch when I need cheering up…the perfect combo of emotion and humour !

The Favourite starring Olivia Coleman is the story featured in ‘The Room of Quarrels’ in The Enchanted Palace, commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces for Kensington Palace 2010-2012

Happy World Poetry Day!


A Beautiful Friendship

Things happen

to this princess

who lives

in a time

long ago.

She is born weeping

and doesn’t seem

to be able

to stop.

As a toddler

she is sent


to visit

the Royal Oculist

of France.

No mama.

No papa.

No sister.

Just her

in her golden frock

holding her small lapdog.

All who look after her

just seem to die.

Her grandmother.

Her aunt.

When she comes home

it is her mother’s turn.


She is ousted

She is loveless.

She is cared for

by others.


The princess is sad,



Until one day

she meets

a girl

to play with.

She is gorgeous,



and a bit bossy.

She is

everyone’s favourite



she is willing to become

the shy, plain princess’s

best friend.

They can


hold hands,

tell secrets

and dress up

in each other’s clothes.

They have

a make-belief



the kitchen table.

The princess

always follows.

Her friend

is the bossy one

and she likes that.


Time passes.

They grow up.

There are weddings,

there are sorrows.

there are many

tiny burials.

And still the friends


in their kitchen domain.

Now the princess

is Queen

and her friend

is the Mistress of the Robes.

There are intrigues.

There are betrayals.

There are WARS.

They run

into the kitchen

no more.

The Queen

is burdened

with Queenly concerns.

Her Lady

presumes too much.

The Queen turns her back.

She will be bossed no more.

It is the end

of a beautiful



When friends so fast part forever

their bitter words etch through the walls

and leave a trace.

You can hear them still.


Poem: WildWorks/Mercedes Kemp

Images: WildWorks/ Steve Tanner

Guest Director

We’re on the look out  for a Guest Director for our next project.



By Charlie Bunker

Over the past few months we’ve been working with WildWorker Seamas Carey on a project inspired by ‘Bill’s Attic’. This has formed part of our ‘Wildly Talented’ training and development strand, which is about nurturing new artistic leaders of the work; by giving them the space, support and encouragement to create.



At WildWorks, sites that are loaded with story fascinate us. Classically, we’re known for creating shows on a large scale but we’ve also made work in smaller spaces; such as a cabinet.