Director’s Note for Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare: At Home

Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare: At Home is a new version of an existing project in which we present the complete works of Shakespeare, using an ordinary table top as a stage and casting everyday objects as the characters. We’ve been presenting this work all over the world since 2015.

In this new version of the project the plays are presented at a table in the performers’ own homes – in the kitchen or amongst the books in a bedroom or workspace. We’re all in some version of lockdown still here in the UK, theatres are closed as they are through much of the world thanks to the current Coronavirus pandemic. Presenting the pieces over the internet helps us keep contact with our audiences around the world and really suits these intimate performances. The project has always been about the collision of these great significant Shakespearean dramas and the everyday world – presenting them from the domestic space of the performers really opens up and emphasises that element, underscoring the informality and personal approach that’s inherent in the project. Each presentation begins with a short informal introduction from the performer.

The project is very much a celebration of the adaptability and resilience of theatre – it can be done anywhere, with the most limited means. The table top can stage the most intense psychological interactions and journeys, the most complex historical events and the most ridiculous comical confusions. With an informal energy that’s more YouTube tutorial than Stratford-Upon-Avon the performances are compelling and intimate and always a little comical, a little absurd, but what’s important for us that they do really, in their own ways. succeed in bringing the plays to life.

Setting up for the project has certainly been a logistical and technical challenge – ensuring that all the performers (presently in 4 different cities) have their casts of objects, and that internet, camera and other tech in each of their home-bases is compatible to create and broadcast the pieces. We are getting there, ironing out the kinks in the system and figuring out how things need to be done. We do really hope that people will join us for the presentations of this work and help spread the word about it.”

Tim Etchells
Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment
August 2020