Bec Applebee

Catherine the Great

Empress Catherine the Great of Russia comes to visit

Originally Commissioned by Kneehigh Theatre., she is now available to visit your town

About the project

The dress is a walking exhibition which I hand illustrated with the story of the Green Frog dinner services and inspired by Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.

MIn 1774 Josiah Wedgwood from Stoke on Trent made an 800 piece Green Frog dinner service for the Empress Catherine ll of Russia. Every single piece was exquisitely hand painted with great skill in mulberry- purple glaze.
Each pot and plate represented an important and scenic view from Scotland, Wales, England and Cornwall. Including St Micheal’s Mount, Tintagel Castle and an unknown Cornish Burial mound.
It is perhaps one of the rarest and most famous dinner service in Europe. A unique historical tour-guide.

Materials from Cornwall

To make this creamware service, Josiah Wedgwood needed raw materials, one being Kaolinite mined in Cornwall. What a journey! From workers hand to workers hand, both men and women. A journey by sea from Cornwall to Liverpool, a canal ride to Stoke on Trent then carried by pack horse to Chelsea in London. Crated and sailed across the sea to Europe and then sledged across the icy tundra to the Palace at St Petersburg Russia. All in time for dinner. From mine workers hands, to the hands of an Empress.

Random Acts of Art

Created as a commission for the Random Acts of Art Festival Kneehigh Theatre:
Random Acts of Art were encounters/installations created to surprise, delight, amuse, and spark curiosity in people across the St Austell bay area this spring 2021. Fleeting moments of delight that pass-through communities, installations that audiences happen upon, travelling storytelling ideas

All of ideas were created to be delivered within the toughest lockdown guidelines, it might be that only 3 people see when it’s presented within the community, but now can be enjoyed by many more!

The Ugly Sisters

A fun filled, family friendly, physical theatre show that takes a humorous satirical look at our modern social media driven obsession with ‘perfect’ beauty.

Ella is a farmer’s daughter. She loves the farm and has never worried about whether her welly boots are in fashion or not. So it is a complete shock when her Father introduces her to her two new step sisters.

These girls are beautiful? They are primped, plumped and plucked. They know every beauty trick in the book and they know what’s what. Ella is definitely not it.

The show:

Ella is a farmer’s daughter. She is used to mucking out and getting on with the demanding practical tasks that need to be done in order to help keep her Dad’s farm running. Her father has found it hard since the death of his wife to keep things on track and relies on his lovely daughter to help out. Cinderella understands nature, she’s practical and loves the farm. She is happy to be outside whatever the weather. She is very happy with herself and has certainly never worried about whether her welly boots are in fashion or not. So it is a complete shock to the system when her Dad introduces her to her new step sisters.

The Girls (Grace and Charity) that arrive at the farm are very street wise, beautiful? And fashion conscious. They know everything that there is to know about “who’s in” and “who’s out”, “what’s in” and “what’s out”. They are primped, plumped, plucked, squeezed, ironed and faked, filed, dyed and filled. They know every beauty trick from every magazine. In fact they are hard to recognise. They know what’s what and Ella is definitely not it….The “Girls” have a very unrealistic and romantic notion of country life which includes perpetual sunshine and lavish country houses with indoor swimming pools.  “You mean eggs are laid by chickens!” They would not be seen dead in a pair of wellies ….or would they.

Although the “Girls” seem confident on the outside they are in fact riddled with insecurities about themselves and how they look which is magnified by everything they read and watch. They may in fact have something to learn from their very out of fashion, Ella who actually really quite likes wearing welly boots and overalls and who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty or that her hair blows wild in the wind.

What will they do when they receive the invitation to Justin’s weekend celebrations (local heartthrob)?

The Ugly Sisters project consisted of a family friendly, humorous physical theatre show with optional complimentary workshops using the three sisters from Cinderella at the centre of the piece.

Cast and Crew

The show was a high quality, professionally devised theatre production co directed by Bec Applebee and Simon Harvey using original text Callum Mitchel and with music by Seamas Carey both from Silly boys Theatre. It is physical performance with dance choreographed by Helen Tiplady formally of  Cscape. It staring some of Cornwall’s most well-loved practitioners. The show will be touring with 3 performers Bec Applebee, Mary Woodvine and Jenny Beare and a technician Martin Fenton.

The show was designed to be performed in studio theatres, community venues, primary and secondary schools (with the possibility of inviting primary schools to their feeder secondary school.)

Each participating venue will be offered an age appropriate workshop that have been devised with teachers and pupils from Nancledra primary school and St Ives secondary school. The workshops will look at some of the issues inherent within the show. In particular playing with the notion of an institutionalized acceptance of body dysmorphia. We will question differing ideas around beauty using the “Ugly sisters” as a catalyst for a non-judgmental questioning of the status quo. As a practitioner and a parent I perceive that as children grow up and mature today, the pressure to conform to a specific unrealistic body image is far greater than it has been. It can appear that it is an impossible task for a young person to gain genuine self- confidence with a healthy sense of ‘self’ if your starting point (yourself) is by its very nature unaccepted, and that the accepted ‘photo shopped’ norm is unnatural. No curls, no body hair, no choice etc.

Is beauty all about what you look like? The characters of the Ugly sisters and Cinderella are a perfect vehicle to play with, self-image and self-confidence in a humorous, theatrical and accessible way in both the workshops and the show itself.

Darke Woman

A show that celebrates the work Of the incredible Playwright Nick Darke and his fabulous female characters.

Nick was one of Cornwall’s most prestigious and internationally acclaimed playwrights.

Bec worked widely with Nick and with the help of Anna Maria Murphy’s ( Kneehigh ) magical wordsmithing alongside Mary Woodvine ( Poldark, Trevithick) Sharon Andrews (Scarey Little Girls) and her own extraordinary performance skills, she will brought some of Nick’s most memorable characters together on stage for the first time. This was a robust encounter of strong willed, strong minded women crossing the centuries. From dynamite makers and Smugglers to wet-suit and Brandy experts. What did they get up to.

A family friendly show recommended for those 7yrs and up. This was a professional evening of physical performance, entertainment, song and humour. A sensitive and true celebration of Nick Darke’s work.

A riot!

Darke Women

Oh Mary

My first home produced show under the banner of Bec Applebee Presents:

A one-woman physical theatre show based on the incredible life story of Mary Bryant; Cornish Highway Woman, Convict, Mother and Maritime Adventurer.

The show features a unique specially commissioned tunes by Neil Davey and a soundtrack recorded by Dalla and Radjel, evocative narrative by Anna Murphy (Kneehigh, BBC Radio 4), choreography by Helen Tiplady (Cscape Dance, HFC) and direction by Simon Harvey (Kneehigh theatre, O Region).
The show is an adventure through the senses.

“Mary Bryant’s story is one of incredible endurance and indomitable spirit. She is a young woman from Fowey who, as a convict is sent away to the other side of the world to Botany Bay, Australia. As an instigator she is at the heart of one of Maritime’s greatest escapes in an open cutter with her young family and a band of fellow prisoners. Hers is an epic story of personal strength, bravery and loss. Of an indomitable human spirit.”

Bec Applebee


Jenni Balow Review Sept 2020:

Oh Bec! Here is a remarkable actress who gives her all to portray the true story of an 18th century Cornish woman who survived the raw brutality of life as a convict, spending years sailing halfway around the world to Australia – and back again.

Bec Applebee becomes her heroine Mary Bryant, using every living and breathing sense to underline the many agonies and very occasional ecstacies experienced by this spirited survivor of a conviction to hang for highway robbery…

With Bec, in this one woman show, we feel every emotion, hang on every word, and

share real tears, as she maps out a journey of unimaginable physical endurance, accompanied by an urgent drumming and piping soundtrack devised by Neil Davey, with musicians from Dalla and Radjel, directed by Simon Harvey.

Most of the show depicts the mean side of life for a poor girl from Fowey, who finds herself in real trouble after she is arrested for stealing a bonnet in Plymouth, and pregnant and alone aboard the Charlotte, one of six ships filled with more than 1,000 prisoners, heading for south Australia, via Rio de Janeiro.

She might be shackled and desperate for something more sustaining than mutton stew, without the meat, but she is young, and when her baby is born and named after the Charlotte, she is touched, and so are we, as she tells how the convicts saved their precious drinking water to bathe her daughter.

And then William Bryant proposes making “an almost honest woman” of her. He might have black teeth, but he does have lovely eyes, and at the end of a 15,000 mile voyage, they marry.

Their courtship is represented by a song and dance with a deck swabbing mop turned on its end, in a captivating moment of joy and more, choreographed by Helen Tiplady.

They might have arrived on dry land at last, but Botany Bay is not a safe place for women, and the horror of rape, as the officers turn their backs, is brutally expressed.

Mary Bryant had to escape after that, but it would take two years of planning and pilfering stores, and learning to read the stars, before a small band of prisoners were ready to make off in the Governor’s cutter on a silent moonless night, as she dreamed of crisp green apples, and cradled her new baby son in her arms. The story is completely absorbing, and there is a lot more to come, but I must not give the whole game away…

Just try to catch this show at some time, otherwise YOU might well have to travel half way around the world to see a performance to match this one, because Bec Applebee is simply one of the best.

Still available for touring:

Originally devised as an indoor small scale show it toured Nationally outdoors during the Summer of 2021 as a Covid friendly production.


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