Wildworks is the UK’s leading landscape theatre company.
From our base in Cornwall we make site-specific theatre with communities locally, nationally and internationally. We reach audiences and collaborators all over the globe. Everyone is invited.
Our work attracts people who do not go to the theatre. We’re to be found on beaches and woodlands, car parks, nightclubs and disused quarries, anywhere from derelict department stores to medinas, and from refugee camps to castles.
Collaboration and partnerships are central to our process. The lived experience of local people is at the heart of our work and without their participation, the work cannot happen. Our process starts with a conversation, often with marginalised communities, who help us shape the telling of everyday human stories in ways that are familiar and re-imagined.
We started in Cornwall, and that remains our emotional and physical home. Many of our company members and associates live here and we draw inspiration from Cornwall’s extraordinary natural and post-industrial landscape. We continue to build on Cornwall’s long history of working outdoors, turning Cornwall’s lack of infrastructure into a positive, by working in the landscape rather than traditional theatre venues.
Our practice is shaped by the defining features of Cornwall: a place in which artists naturally collaborate across artforms and with communities; a peninsula somewhere on the edge that looks outwards to the world.
Our work is predominantly site-specific live performance with elements of exhibition, audio/visual, digital media and film. We tell universal stories in ways that are highly visual, making use of diverse media. Our productions resonate and are enjoyed by people across all ages and cultural backgrounds. An important part of our purpose is to support the next generation of landscape theatre makers and artists.
Everything we do is measured against our values; human, brave, fluid and experimental.
“Wildworks proves you can be experimental and yet humane and shows that theatre which sails out of buildings and away from texts does not always abandon stories”
“Fact and fiction, myth and memory, rumour and reality, even the living and the dead stalk side by side. I’m prepared to bet that over the last three days, Port Talbot was one of the happiest places on Earth”
Emma Hogg CEO
Mydd Pharo Artistic Director
Debra Gristwood Finance Manager
Gwen Scolding General Manager
Mercedes Kemp Founding Artist
Sue Hill Founding Artist
Kyla Goodey Associate Artist
Nathan Jackson Head of Production
Michael White Community Engagement & Programme Producer
Sarah Waller Talent Development Producer
Mackenzie Thompson Finance Officer
Ellie Williams Associate Artist
Vicky Abbott Associate Artist
Josh Pharo Associate Artist
Amy Pitt Associate Artist
Steve Tanner Photographer and visual consultant
Gavin Stride Chair
Wildworks was the brainchild of Bill, who spearheaded the company’s rise from its formation in 2005. Our leader, our rock, our friend, our Bill. He was a giant man with an eye for the little details, who always noticed the minutia in life and listened for the quiet voices, who could take one small comment and turn it into an epic vision, an incredible work of art and change the way people thought about theatre, about life. Since his death on Good Friday 2017, we have delivered a slate of his work, as well as navigated the best path for the company to continue. Bill – we love you, we miss you and your legacy has only just begun.
Wildworks makes landscape theatre – large scale spectacular performances and artworks that grow out of their locations; quarries, cliffs, harbours, derelict industrial sites, castles, empty department stores… And we work with the people who belong to these places to make the shows. They help us by telling us their stories and memories, and by donating their skills and passions. Narrative is at the centre of our work. We bring the seeds of a story to a site and weave in the strands that tie people and place together.
Our emotional home is Cornwall, where the work started and where many company members live. Our practice draws together several threads that are defining features of the arts and culture ecology of Cornwall. Our work draws its form and inspiration from our geographical peripherality, our extraordinary natural and post-industrial landscapes and from the diversity of artists and art-forms working in close proximity in a narrow peninsula…
Our physical environments are heavily marked by the history of human activity, written into the landscape in so many ways we scarcely notice.
The landscape has ghosts; it has narrative and it has meaning. In each new residency we look for powerful locations that have deep resonance for communities in transition.
As a company we are drawn to stories that are both epic and intimate, human stories that can touch and resonate with audiences across barriers of language, age and nationality.
This work attracts new audiences – people who have never wanted to go to the theatre – and makes them active. We create sensory worlds where everything is narrative; the light, the night, distance and closeness, from vast to tiny, a flag on the horizon, a character holding a rose so close you can smell it.
The performances are often promenade – the audience go on a journey through the show, encountering installations and scenes that knit a story.
The company uses an eclectic mix of media and art forms to make its shows – music, dance, puppetry, food, sailing, fire, engineering, hairdressing, gardening, choral singing, film, motorbikes, embroidery and abseiling have all featured in recent projects!
Participants contribute in many ways and at many levels. They might join a scratch choir rehearsing twice a week, they might make a memory box to contribute to an installation, or they might give up normal life for a few weeks to participate fully in rehearsals and preparation.
Our values are :-
We take calculated risks and make difficult, bold decisions.
We create a playground for new ideas, to try new techniques, work with new people and explore impossible conversations. We are prepared for some of these to work and others to fail.
We are shapeshifters. No two projects are the same. We are always evolving and adapting to the world around us. We can change direction quickly and without hesitation if we need to.
People are at the heart of everything we do. We are hosts. We tell everyday human stories. Everyone’s invited.
We are committed to breaking down barriers and working towards equality. We want to be accountable and transparent about who we are, how we work and who we work with.
We listen to those voices not always heard and we use our work to give space for those voices. By embedding community narratives in our projects we engage with the issues that those communities are facing, the events and the changes they are facing and the issues we are all facing as humans on this island, on this planet.
2020 highlighted significant issues and challenges and we are working hard behind the scenes to be better. We are exploring how to better demonstrate more publicly our belief and actions for anti-racism and equal access to the arts for employment, participation and audiences and how we need to adapt as humans in the fight against climate change and the protection of biodiversity.