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Chester Hayes as Billy in Kes Reimagined by Jonathan Watkins, Photo credit Marv Martin

Kes Reimagined comes to screens

Based on the novel ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ by Barry Hines, Kes Reimagined is a new film by award-winning choreographer Jonathan Watkins and International Emmy award-winning director Ross MacGibbon.

Award-winning choreographer Jonathan Watkins conceived and created Kes Reimagined - a dance, music and puppetry adaptation of Barry Hines’ seminal novel A Kestrel for a Knave for Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 2014.  It's now been re-imagined for the screen with International Emmy Award winner Director Ross MacGibbon to bring this modern classic to audiences in a new way.

Watch Kes Reimagined online from 19 May

The acclaimed production will be made available to watch online via The Space for free from Tuesday 19 May at 7pm and available for 30 days.

Set in a Yorkshire mining community, this interpretation of the much- loved classic takes audiences on a journey with Billy Casper. The young working-class boy is troubled at home and at school but finds solace when he finds and trains a kestrel. As the beloved Kes swoops and spins in the expansive freedom of the Yorkshire countryside, Billy’s self-confidence begins to soar, and boy and bird become one.

It's a simple story with complex themes and one that resonates as much for contemporary audiences as those of the 1970's. It's about the politics of education and what and how we learn. The bird offers freedom from the brutality of pit life that for Billy, like so many other British men of the period felt inevitable. The grace and beauty of the dancers, contrasts with the bleak circumstances in which our characters find themselves.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Ken Loach’s film Kes, also adapted from Hines’ novel, Kes Reimagined, premiered at Leeds International Film Festival and was followed by screenings at Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax and Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Watkins, like Hines, grew up in Barnsley and the novel and subsequent film has been a big part of the choreographer’s life:

“The film takes this familiar northern story and reimagines it through dance to uncover the poetic journey between boy and bird, isolation and freedom, disconnect and passion. Being from Barnsley, the book by Barry Hines and subsequently Ken Loach’s film feel like they are almost part of my DNA. I grew up with family and friends quoting from them. When considering the stories I want to tell through dance on film this has always been the frontrunner, and through music, puppetry, video and movement hope to uncover a new way of seeing this iconic narrative.”

Fiona Morris, CEO and Creative Director of The Space, said:

“As the 50th anniversary of Kes the film approaches, The Space is delighted to be able to bring Jonathan’s re-telling of the story to a new audience. The themes contained within Kes Reimagined still resonate today and the capture of this production continues the organisation’s desire to work with the cultural sector to present a wide range of arts content to the broadest possible audience.”

Kes Reimagined Cinema Listings 2019

Tuesday 19th November at 10pm

BBC Four

Thursday 7 November at 6.30pm

Leeds International Film Festival, LEEDS
Venue: Vue at The Light
Post-screening Q&A with choreographer Jonathan Watkins and composer Alex Baranowski
Tickets available via from Thursday 10 October

Friday 8 November at 8pm

Showroom Cinema, SHEFFIELD

Saturday 9 November at 5.15pm

Square Chapel Arts Centre, HALIFAX

Sunday 10 November at 5.30pm


Viewers also saw the work on BBC Four on Tuesday 19th November at 10pm before it featured on the BBC iPlayer.