Amputation? I love it

The Wild Bride is being performed at Chichester's Minerva Theatre from November 1-5.
The Wild Bride is being performed at Chichester's Minerva Theatre from November 1-5.
Tom Chambers as  Bobby and company in Crazy For You. Picture by Richard Davenport

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After a hugely successful summer season, Chichester Festival Theatre is opening its arms to this winter’s touring productions, starting with Kneehigh’s The Wild Bride.

Running at the Minerva theatre from November 1-5, Cornwall-based theatre company Kneehigh has been touring the country with the production.

Based on the German fairy tale, The Handless Maiden, the story was collected by the Brothers Grimm, and the gruesome goings-on fit in easily with the spooky holiday of Halloween.

Emma Rice, artistic director of the production and Kneehigh, says: ‘I haven’t worked from the Brothers Grimm version because I wanted to work from oral storytelling. It’s a fantastic story.

‘It charts a whole life, and without giving too much away... Well I’ve always been fasincated with the ones that involve amputation. I’m really interested in the idea that we keep bits of ourselves through life.’

After being sold to the devil by her father, the heroine falls pregnant from a Prince, and brings up her child in the woods. But there’s a twist.

Emma explains: ‘I think it’s exciting and interesting, and to be honest I find traditional theatre quite tough to watch. I love to make exciting musical theatre that has meaning.

‘I wake up in the night and think about it all. Especially because it’s a love story. I’m a real romantic, I always come back to it. Who doesn’t love a love story?’

Having worked as an actor for 10 years, Emma found her calling in directing.

‘I started directing here and there,’ she adds, ‘and it became quite obvious that I was stronger at that. I joined Kneehigh, and it all happened very naturally. I’m driven by the work I do and the way I want to make it, and the people I want to make it with.’

Proving how prominent she has become with directing, Emma was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2009 for Kneehigh’s production of Brief Encounters.

She explains: ‘It was absolutely amazing but also sad, because I got really ill! I couldn’t go to the ceremony, I didn’t even get the meal I was offered.

‘It would have been amazing to win it, but it’s still very very nice.’

n Tickets cost £18 to £20 from Chichester Festival Theatre on (01243) 781312 or go to cft.org.uk.