2020 Recipient: Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas

Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas, FE Award winner 2020

Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas are two performance makers that have been working together since 2015.

Creating work in an age of austerity and about austerity their work is stripped right back and sits somewhere between live art and theatre, but if you held them against a wall they would probably say it’s theatre.

Together they first created the trilogy EUROHOUSE, PALMYRA and ONE which explored power dynamics and political themes on a micro, human level, and complex political and social questions – Greece’s relationship with the EU; the Syrian crisis; the rise of the ultra right – in an accessible, immediate form. Using humour and the dynamics of their onstage relationship, Bert and Nasi undercut and explore the darker aspects of contemporary subjects in work that questions both their own – and the audience’s – role as ‘active’ spectators in global conflicts.

Recent projects include IT DON’T WORRY ME, a collaboration with the Spanish Catalan company Atresbandes to make a piece exploring political correctness across cultures, and THE END a dance piece exploring the breakdown of their own working relationship set against the backdrop of an imminent climate catastrophe. Looking ahead the duo are planning to make a new piece together which looks at the past: an exploration on nostalgia and the time we waste and spend with each other.

Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas are produced by Farnham Maltings and are Associate Artists with MAYK. Their website is here.

On receiving the award Bert and Nasi comment “We are truly honoured to receive this award. During a time of so much uncertainty, we are grateful for the opportunity this brings
to keep doing what we love. It’s hard to express how important Forced Entertainment have been to us as artists. Their work and the way they go about making theatre has been a huge inspiration for us since the very beginning. We will try to use this award to keep doing what we always have been doing which is make work and try to challenge our audiences. We want to thank our friends and family and everybody who has supported us and come to our shows. Thank you. Thanks FE.”

Tim Etchells comments on behalf of Forced Entertainment: “The Covid-19 crisis means that like most people in the arts and elsewhere we are currently looking at survival strategies for an uncertain future – how to continue our work with and for audiences in a national and international context in which rehearsals and live performances have become impossible and where all of our touring activity (always the major element in our income) has been postponed to some as-yet-unknown future date. It’s certainly, in that one sense at least, a strange time to be giving an Award.

We are nonetheless proud and incredibly happy to be forging a connection with Bert and Nasi over the next year and we’re hopeful that the Forced Entertainment Award (in memory of Huw Chadbourn) will be as constructive and impactful for them as it has been for previous Award winners Nic Green (2018) and Selina Thompson (2019). It remains a privilege for us to support younger artists who are making and remaking theatre in light of their own experience and concerns. Rehearsal visits and face to face mentoring will no doubt shift to Zoom encounters for the foreseeable future but we are enormously pleased to be able to make the next year a bit less precarious for Bert and Nasi, and to lend our mentoring and other support to them over the coming year, working on organisational stability, and helping them answer the questions (logistical, artistic and philosophical) they’re grappling with at this moment”. – Tim Etchells, Artistic Director.

Selection Process

The two step selection process involved Forced Entertainment inviting nominations from professionals from the theatre and performance sector, who this year were: Doreen Foster (Director, Warwick Arts Centre), Roise Goan (Artistic Director, Arts Admin), Kevin Jamieson (Senior Producer, HOME), Gundega Laivina (Director, New theatre Latvia), Renny O Shea (Co-Artistic Director, Quarantine) and Lois Weaver (Activist and Professor of Contemporary Performance). The selection panel considering the nominations involved Reena Kalsi (Producer, Arts Admin), Lois Keidan (Live Art Development Agency) and Aaron Wright (Artistic Director, Fierce Festival) and members of the Forced Entertainment company.

Image: Berta Vicente.