Breaking new ground for what theatre can be!
This year’s winner of the International Ibsen Award is the innovative British theatre company Forced Entertainment, who will be staging three productions at the Ibsen Festival.
The British performance company Forced Entertainment is known for pushing the limits of theatre, as well as for its exploration of the relationship between performance, play and reality. Aiming to entertain, inspire and sometimes confuse audiences, the group sees the live aspect of its work as crucial to transforming the theatre into a politicized space for encounter and exchange.
Absurd, comical, melancholic and tragic are designations that are often used to describe the company’s work, which according to the Ibsen Award jury is marked by a serious and deeply profound attitude towards the role of theatre in society.
Forced Entertainment was founded in Sheffield in 1984, and since then the company has become known for its ground-breaking and genre-busting approach to theatre. They have particularly made a name for themselves in the field of live theatre, but have also explored the distribution of their work via digital platforms. Forced Entertainment develops its performances collectively through improvisation and devising, by and large without a finished text.
Led by artist and writer Tim Etchells, the Forced Entertainment company comprises designer and performer Richard Lowdon, alongside performers Robin Arthur, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O’Connor. Over the years, this core ensemble has been augmented by contributions from many guest artists and performers.
According to Etchells, “All of our work, for us, approaches the question of what theatre might be now, how it can speak now, how it might make contact with audiences now. … For us theatre is always a kind of negotiation, something that thrives on its liveness and its potential for debate and conversation.”
Forced Entertainment will be staging three productions during the 2016 festival. The Coming Storm, a prize example of the company’s distinctly anarchistic style, is a captivating collage shot through with black humour and accompanied by live music. The Notebook is also a slice of black humour, this time about twin brothers who during the Second World War live in social isolation with their impoverished grandmother in the countryside. And on the Thousandth Night …, which takes its title and its cue from One Thousand and One Nights, explores the relationship between a story and its tellers and audience. Eight kings and queens, dressed in cheap red capes and cardboard crowns, tell a story that keeps on taking new turns. Perhaps their tale is all the world’s stories rolled into one?