First Night

Created 2001

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“Ladies and Gentlemen. While you’re with us tonight, we’d like to ask you to try to forget about the outside world completely. Try not to think about anything outside of this room. Anything at all. Try to forget about cars, and meetings, cigarettes, and road accidents. Try to forget about births and deaths and funerals. And bereavements…..Try not to think about agonies and bitterness and smiles. And sadness. And the kind of bitterness that comes from making one really big mistake. And the kind of regret that comes from making many many many many small mistakes…”

Forced Entertainment’s first theatre work for middle-scale stages is best described as a kind of disastrous vaudeville. In it, eight performers stand before the audience in a line of dazzling smiles, dead eyes, sequined lycra, tottering heels and loud check suits. First Night begins with a grand welcome, but soon disintegrates into dark predictions of the future, psychotic escapology acts, unexpected dances and unhinged show-biz anecdotes.

Like earlier works Showtime (1996) and Pleasure (1997),  First Night concerns itself with the nature of the theatrical event itself, exploring what happens when it all goes wrong and when audience expectations are challenged or toyed with.


"Diverting, accessible and viciously funny... just the sort of show that we should be seeing at the National Theatre."
The Guardian
"A riotous treatise on the performer / audience dynamic."
Chicago Tribune
"A powerful statement of malcontent that boldly transcends the usual segmented live art venues and audiences. No more preaching only to the converted and the contextualised. This one goes out to all of us."
Live Art Magazine


Conceived and devised by the company

Performers Robin Arthur, Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor, John Rowley, K Michael Weaver
Direction Tim Etchells
Text Tim Etchells and the company
Design Richard Lowdon
Lighting Design Nigel Edwards
Soundtrack Found sources

First Night is a Forced Entertainment production

Co-produced by Rotterdamse Schouwburg Rotterdam, SpielArt Festival Munich and Festival Theaterformen Hannover