• Sheila V

Old Friends, Intimate Conversations

Updated: Jul 25

Tea & Biscuits with

Emma Rice

Even in the darkest times hope shines through and lock down has allowed us to enjoy a wide range of online performances, from streaming famous West End shows to Alan Bennett’s more intimate Talking Heads. Solitary confinement has allowed us the luxury of tuning in to breathtaking new work along with revisiting some guilty pleasures, but there are unexpected delights too. The best ideas are often very basic and Emma Rice hit on a winner with her virtual Tea & Biscuits programmes. Actor, Director and founder of Wise Children Theatre Emma has invited us to eavesdrop on intimate afternoon chats with some of the many wonderful creatives she has worked with during her years in theatre.


The conversations have involved a wide variety of collaborators including Musical and Technical Directors, Lighting/Set and Costume Designers and Producers alongside Writers and Actors. The format is simple – Emma calls up an old friend for a walk down memory lane to share the highs and lows of working together to create theatre. We also discover favourite biscuit treats and interesting music choices. After twenty amazing years spent with our very own Kneehigh Theatre, Emma landed the seemingly plum role of Artistic Director at Shakespeare’s Globe. Emma became a very hot topic when her tenure abruptly ended with two successful seasons under her belt; despite attracting massively increased ticket sales the short sighted Board did not support her avant garde approach. Emma’s departure from the Globe released her from the stifling restrictions imposed on her and a short time later she founded her own Bristol based company Wise Children. However, despite her love for her own company, Kneehigh has a big place in her heart as Emma points out during her chat with Carl Grose, - ‘You can take the girl out of Kneehigh, but you can’t take Kneehigh out of the girl’.

Theatre fans will recognise many names on Emma’s Tea & Biscuits guest list with Kneehigh founder Mike Shepherd making two appearances (and more promised), other popular Kneehigh names have included Anna Maria Murphy, Carl Grose, Katy Owen, Patrycja Kujawska, Nandi Bhebhe, Malcolm Rippeth and Paul Crewes. Wise Children names include Gareth Snook, Mirabelle Grimaud and Etta Murfitt with Mike, Katy, Nandi and Patrycja also discussing their own Wise Children roles, while Katy and Nandi share thoughts on their time with Emma at the Globe.

These intimate and gentle conversations are warm and funny, revealing so much about the people involved and stirring fond memories of favourite shows.

Emma is taking a well earned couple of weeks off, but new Tea & Biscuits will be aired again soon, catch up with previous conversations on the website at www.wisedigitalchildren.com

Sheila Vanloo

July 2020

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