Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare: At Home

Created 2020

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All plays were broadcast on the Forced Entertainment website between 17/09/20-15/11/20.

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A salt and pepper pot for the king and queen. A vase for the prince. A matchbox for the servant. A toilet roll tube for the Innkeeper. A water bottle for the messenger. A kitchen table for a stage.

In this ‘At Home’ edition of Complete Works the dramatis personae of household objects return to a domestic setting in a unique staging directly from the performers’ homes to yours.

Originally conceived in 2015, in Complete Works six performers create condensed versions of all of the Shakespeare plays, comically and intimately retelling them, using a collection of everyday objects as stand-ins for the characters on the one metre stage of a table top.

Complete Works has been performed in theatre spaces across the world as well as being webcast to thousands of international viewers, however, while a global pandemic has shut down stages everywhere, the piece finds an intimate new life by ‘coming home’. Rather than a table set against the red drapes of a theatre, the objects find their starting positions on Terry’s kitchen table or Jerry’s desk as if they’d just been taken down from the surrounding shelves and cupboards of each performers’ home.

Forced Entertainment have long had an obsession with virtual or described performance, exploring in different ways over the years the possibilities of conjuring extraordinary scenes, images and stories using language alone. Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare explores the dynamic force of narrative in relation to Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, histories and late plays. What follows is simple and idiosyncratic, absurd and strangely compelling as, through a kind of lo-fi, home-made puppetry, the stories of the plays really do come to life in vivid miniature.

Forced Entertainment’s Complete Works is the group’s first venture into Shakespearean territory and this ‘at home’ edition, presented over nine weeks, is a kind of quietly ambitious levelling and opening out of the plays. The project’s gently comic re-casting and re-telling of each play is also both a celebration of the stories’ power and a tribute to the durability of theatre itself.

credits

Conceived and devised by Forced Entertainment

Performers Robin Arthur, Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O’Connor
Director Tim Etchells
Text Robin Arthur, Tim Etchells, Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O’Connor
Digital Production Management Jim Harrison

COMPLETE WORKS: TABLE TOP SHAKESPEARE: AT HOME
is a Forced Entertainment production.

Financially supported by the following partners: Kanuti Gildi SAAL; KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen; Künstlerhaus Mousonturm; The Mondavi Center, UC Davis; PACT Zollverein; Romaeuropa Festival; Shakespeare Festival Neuss; Stanford Live at Stanford University; UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance and UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures. Also presented as part of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s 2020 Time-Based Art Festival and Temporada Alta 2020.