Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas’s Round Up

Back in 2020, we got an unexpected (and really exciting!) email saying that we had won the FE Award. A few days later we had a call with Tim and Eileen to go through what it all meant, and the kinds of things we could use it for. It was a very open conversation that focussed on our specific needs as an emerging company.

FE is a reference point for us and many other UK artists because they’re a company that keeps making work that sits outside of the usual things we hear about or have the chance to see. Receiving this award felt like a huge recognition and an encouragement to carry making the type of work we strive to make. 

When the Covid pandemic rolled in a few months later, everything stopped and FE kindly offered to extend their support for another year. This ability to respond to a changing context in the most humane way is something that runs deep in the heart of their company… 

For the past two years, the company, especially Eileen and Tim, have been incredibly present for us through some really difficult times. We often had very frank and open conversations with them about the new context we were operating in and about how much time it might take for things to get back to normal. We were eager to get back to the rehearsal room and be in front of an audience again, but they kept us in check and quietly made sure our company could survive the pandemic so that we wouldn’t be on our knees on the other side of it.

FE’s digital pieces were a huge inspiration to the creation of our own show during the pandemic HELLO (Tim’s voice even featured in one of the early draft episodes) and at the time, Tim gave us the best dramaturgical advice on this piece: he told us that he found the attempt of making something happen during these very difficult times very interesting for an audience. We were all very much in that sort of headspace at the time: how can we make something happen when we are not together and in the same room? The impossibility of it became the running thread through the whole work.

And perhaps this is one way of thinking about all this time we spent with FE: confronted with the impossibility of making stuff happen, we had to become even more resourceful. Our company had to develop in ways we couldn’t have imagined before. 

Along the way, we lost two amazing core members of our admin and support team but thankfully FE was there to talk to us and help make sure we found the right people to help us carry on doing what we do. This is why the Award has been such a valuable thing in the current context: FE are so willing to share their experience and knowledge of the field to help others survive. It’s a very simple act of solidarity but it has been vital for us, and will forever be an inspiration.

After many zoom meetings with the members of FE, we finally had the chance to discover their new piece Under Bright Light at PACT in Germany.

It was amazing to be back in a theatre and to watch the premiere of the show they had just finished because so much of it rang true: the simplicity, the repetition, the composition of the whole piece hitting home without even trying to make a clear statement.

Talking to each of the company members after the show in the dimly lit hotel bar (the infamous Jimmy’s Bar), we felt we were among people who truly recognise the reality of making contemporary work. They are also pushing in the same direction; growing this form, growing this language, growing this way of making theatre that we too have found ourselves falling in with. 

When leaving them, we thought: if they hadn’t grafted and worked all those years, we wouldn’t really have an audience! Since we have officially come to a close with the Award, all the members of the company have come to see our latest collaboration with Atresbandes and offered the most generous feedback. The support carries on …!

Going forward, we have found a new amazing producer, we are making a new live piece and have started developing a strand of our work in Europe. Lots of change, but we still have the want to push for the sort of work we, FE and many other brilliant contemporary artists do in the UK. Thank you FE, thank you Tim, thank you Eileen for all the support over this last period.