I spend half my time presenting work - with Forced Entertainment or in all kinds of solo projects and collaborations. It can be an exhibition in a small gallery in Basel, a neon sign plus a handful of performances in Gwangju in Korea, a durational performance in Lublin in Poland, an improvisation-session for BBC Radio, a revival of older Forced Entertainment pieces in Lisbon, a new collaboration or production in Berlin or New York. With Forced Entertainment we're constantly jumping from UK venues, to Europe and further afield, from festivals to regular theatre seasons, shifting from small-scale to large-scale and back again.
Of course different places have different atmospheres and energies, but what I really look forward to more than anything to do with the context are just the moments in which the work meets the public and vice versa - that space of exchange, encounter, dialogue, negotiation - the work itself, the life it has. That's what I care about - it's always exciting to me, it's always different, and it's why a group like Forced Entertainment exists - to jump into that shared space and make something happen. The bigger frame (this festival or that) doesn't mean so much to me.
We've talked about Edinburgh more than a few times of course, but it tends to clash with other commitments of ours in Europe, or in the UK rehearsing. Plus there are usually good financial reasons not to do it, and more viable options elsewhere! I think for some theatre and comedy people, especially when starting out, Edinburgh is a kind of 'must-do' thing - but it's never seemed like, or been like that, for us. There are other festivals that in many ways I'd put before it in terms of importance for the work we do - Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, Festwochen in Vienna, SpielArt in Munich, even Avignon, at least under the previous director Vincent Baudriller.
Tomorrow’s Parties is a simple, playful, poignant and at times delirious look forwards to futures both possible and impossible.
Now seemed like a really good moment for Edinburgh though - we have a great project for the British Council season – Tomorrow’s Parties is a simple, playful, poignant and at times delirious look forwards to futures both possible and impossible. We're also presenting two projects as part of the Forest Fringe season at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall. There we are doing works that really challenge the Festival-standard of hour-long / bite-size - Forced Entertainment's long-established improvisational durational piece Quizoola! which lasts six hours with an audience that can come and go, and an improvised / experimental collaboration between me and the violinist Aisha Orazbayeva - that's running four hours, again with an audience that can come and go. Presenting this range of works is really great - especially the chance to show these different pieces together in the UK.
It's a great chance to show work and share space with other UK theatre and performance artists making interesting projects. And of course a great chance to show our work to international partners - people we've worked with in the past, and people we haven't yet worked with. So many people come through the festival that it's really a great opportunity to make these kinds of connections. The British Council does a really great job also in curating, inviting and further connecting people.
Following the premiere at Foreign Affairs Festival in Berlin, we are busy making more plans for our table-top Shakespeare piece Complete Works - the plots of all the plays of Shakespeare presented on a table-top, using everyday objects as stand-ins for the characters. At the same time we're preparing for forthcoming UK tours with The Notebook and our performance for children The Possible Impossible House, as well as trips abroad with various projects including our large-scale work The Last Adventures made in collaboration with the Lebanese sound-artist Tarek Atoui. In the rehearsal room we are starting work on a new piece, destined to open in May 2016 – we’re just at the stage of improvisation and endless discussion right now.
There's more than enough to do!
Forced Entertainment's show Tomorrow's Parties will be playing at Summerhall from 24 - 29 August and is part of the British Council's Edinburgh Showcase.