Emilie Knight moves to director for York Shakespeare Project’s 2021 Sonnet Walks

Knight’s move: Emilie Knight will direct York Shakespeare Project’s Sonnet Walks in 2021 after playing Covid Nurse in Sit-down Sonnets at a socially distanced Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York, in September 2020. Picture: John Saunders

YORK Shakespeare Project has appointed Emilie Knight to direct the 2021 Sonnet Walks in a plan to resume open-air theatre in York as soon as conditions allow. 

Anticipating the granting of Government permission for outdoor events, but awaiting confirmation on what level of social distancing will be required, YSP is delighted to make the appointment. 

“We want to hit the ground running just as soon as we’re permitted to,” says York Shakespeare Project (YSP) committee member Tony Froud.

YSP will make an announcement on performance dates and the audition process for Emilie’s production later in the spring.

Emilie is well acquainted with the Sonnet Walks, having appeared in three productions. First performing as a Sting-obsessed sonneteer in 2018 an d as Mother of the Bride and guide the following year, she found playing Covid Nurse in last year’s Sit-down Sonnets at Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, was “one of the most affecting roles I’ve ever played”. 

York resident Emilie has made regular appearances with the Knaresborough Players and was involved in the York community projects Blood + Chocolate on the city streets in 2013 and Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes at York Theatre Royal in 2017.

Interested in all aspects of theatre, not least costume and tech, Emilie says it was only a matter of time before she would turn her attention to directing: “This is a new adventure for me and I’m thrilled to have been chosen to direct this year’s Sonnets production. 

Sting in the tale: Emilie Knight in York Shakespeare Project’s 2018 Sonnet Walks. Picture: John Saunders

“I’m very grateful to the YSP committee for entrusting me with this important feature of the canon.  I look forward to the challenge and hard work involved as I know it will be hugely rewarding. 

“I was made so welcome when I joined YSP, have learnt so much and have had so much fun.  I want others to share that experience too.”  

The Sonnet Walks were first performed by YSP in 2014, and since their revival in 2017 they have become an annual event. Until 2020, they took the form of a walk around the streets and snickelways of York, allowing audience members to meet a series of colourful local characters, each with a lively tale to tell and a Shakespearean sonnet to recite.

Last September, Covid-safe restrictions saw the format adapted to the Sit-Down Sonnets, with audience and cast members all socially distanced in the atmospheric setting of the Holy Trinity churchyard.

YSP is confident York audiences are crying out for the resumption of live theatre. “With theatres closed since March, last September’s Sit-Down Sonnets were hugely welcomed by actors and audience members alike,” says Tony Froud.

“We’re hoping for the same response for live performance this year.  By appointing Emilie now, we’re making sure that it will happen immediately guidance permits.”

Meanwhile, YSP is “hoping to revive” its production of Macbeth, postponed by Lockdown 1 ten days short of its first night in March 2020. Watch this space for any updates.