We are a group of six artists who make work in theatre and performance from our base in Sheffield and tour to audiences all around the world.
At the heart of Forced Entertainment is a group of six artists (Tim Etchells (Artistic Director), Robin Arthur, Richard Lowdon (Designer), Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor) collaborating to make original theatre and performances together since 1984.
We develop our plans and rehearse at our base in Sheffield and tour to audiences across the UK and around the world. We also work with young people in Sheffield and other cities in workshops and longer projects, to help them develop creative skills and thinking and to make performances and other works of their own.
The theatre we create is something that needs to be live, something that generates energy and tension from its presence in a room with other people. We’re interested in making performances that explore the contemporary world, performances that excite, challenge and entertain other people. We’re interested in ideas at the same time as seeking to create confusion, silence, questions and laughter.
As well as performance works, we’ve made gallery installations, site-specific pieces, books, photographic collaborations, videos and even a mischievous guided bus tour. The work makes a strong link between form and content, reflecting our belief that the form of a project – the kind of experience it presents, the contract it makes with its audience and how – is an inseperable and significant part of its meaning. Often described as being experimental or innovative, our work shifts approach from project to project, taking influence from movies, internet, stand-up, dance, bad television, performance art, music culture as well as from theatre itself. What ties the various strands of our work together is that the projects always strive to be vivid and original, demanding a lot from audiences and giving lot in return.
We typically develop projects through improvisation and discussion; for us simply trying things out in the rehearsal room is often the best way to find out more about the ideas we are exploring and what the performance potential of the material is. When projects demand it and when resources allow, we expand our team by inviting other artists and performers to join us, bring fresh energy and new ideas to the table.
Collaboration – as agreement and as disagreement – is at the heart of everything we do. The long term creative work of the group, co-operating as equals over the years and building up a truly shared language, repertoire, skills and ways of working, is the bedrock of Forced Entertainment, an artistic approach that is also a political way of thinking about how to make art and how to live and work with others. The participation and skill sharing work we do with young people and with younger artists is designed to share these approaches and to open creative possibilities and ways of thinking and doing for other people.
Confounding conventions and exploding audience expectations