Forced Entertainment, Sheffield, United Kingdom, 2012
Author: Tim Etchells
Directed by Tim Etchells
about the production
There cannot be a more meagre theatre than this. Two actors, simply dressed and gazing far into the audience, calmly standing on an empty stage only with minimalist decorations and light are loudly presenting their ideas of what the world of the near future might look like. The legendary British ensemble Forced Entertainment is investigating our ideas of future in
its production of Tommorow’s Parties. Two representatives of mankind, who might also be the last two surviving ones, have either won a teleport into the next millennium or they are
only two officials who have forgotten themselves at a garden party that ended due to bad weather. We are watching them declaiming the hypothesise such as: “Maybe the whole Earth will be occupied by the termites in the future“ or “Sex will remain only as a nostalgic play for the elderly“ or ”In future people will not be discussing politics, because all issues will have been solved“. In these hypothesise we recognise our ideas of future, our wishes and worries. And, although, nothing is happening on the stage, a drama of insecurity and expectations is being revealed. On the one hand, all those statements that can satisfy or entertain us, on the other one, man in all his grotesqueness – standing alone, facing the world and asking questions.
In this production the ensemble Forced Entertainment has, once again, managed to create an existentially strong starting point with a comical potential which they are able to make an excellent use of. Although Tomorrow’s Parties are not a comedy in the first place, the spectator sporadically bursts into laughter. It is not an uproarious hee-haw following a well done gag or bon mot, but rather a subtle laughter of understanding human existence in all its plenitude and thus also its comicality. It is exactly the depiction of the dramatic struggle of a petty man and the great future that hides the essence of the latest production by Forced Entertainment, which, in its simplicity, can look only as an unpretentious talk at the first glance.
However, exactly in this simple way we express our hopes for better future, optimism, dreams but also fear and despair. All this can be found in the speculative scripts of Hollywood mega movies but mainly in small, everyday stories and conversation phrases of the colloquial language. There is yet another observation the spectator is made aware of by the two characters on the stage in Tommorow’s Parties – all our ideas about the future reflect, above all, our experiences, past and present.
The cultivating medium of utopias and dystopias gives birth to stories narrated in Tommorow’s Parties. The natural joy which the two actors/narrators experience when creating fantastic stories about the future is mixed with the archetypal fear and worries of what is to, or might, come. This simple theatre studies both possible and impossible versions of the future, which are always only a continuation, extension or denial of today’s world, but also the magical capability of words to create the world of tomorrow. Not least, Tomorrow’s Parties demonstrate how important narration, in its verbal form, still is for our everyday life.
“Your little, charming fight with words does not fit into any theatrical category. And despite the fact that actually nothing exciting happens, the production evokes both amused audience laughter and contemplative whispers. Why ever not, maybe life in the future will take just one hour. One marvellous hour of theatre performance.”
Hamburg Abendblatt, August 2011, Germany
“Artists led by Forced Entertainment director and manager Tim Etchells keep the play in an unrestrained and playful spirit, meanwhile bringing an inner logic into personal, political, both fanciful and ordinary dialogues and presenting them each time from a different perspective. All that we, spectators, can do is shake our heads or perhaps feel too naked, or simply enjoy the laconic self-irony. With the growing chaos, with the faith in better times, the stage goes dark in the turmoil of talking heads. And they still have a lot to say to us and the theatre. As regular guests at European festival scenes, this theatre company should definitely not be forgotten.”
Die Welt, August 2011, Germany
“With their new piece they interfere with the mechanisms of post- dramatic theatrical avant-garde which they so perfectly master. This time they offer an exclusive view of theatre in its purest form, of language and creation of inner pictures. Is this at all avant-garde? Be that as it may, it is enchanting.”
Berliner Zeitung, August 2011, Germany
“A blend of absurdity, sophistication, naivety, criticism, pessimism and nostalgic suggestions of what might a time-wise unspecified future look like, sometimes the production inclines towards philosophy, at other times towards humour. Meanwhile, both protagonists maintain a flow of friendly and easy storytelling and gently encourage the audience to develop their own play with thoughts.”
nachtkritik.de, August 2011, Germany
directed by Tim Etchells
design: Richard Lowdon
lighting: Jim Harrison
produkction: Ray Rennie, Jim Harrison
cast: Robin Arthur, Terry O‘Connor
in co-production with: Belluard Bollwerk International
Forced Entertainment is a group of six artists that have been together since 1984 and its artistic director is Tim Etchells (1962). The group creates various projects in which they study the meaning of the theatre for today’s world. The linking of theatre and everyday life is important and defines the character of their projects. They are always in the form of an open dialogue with the audience, conversations or negotiations of a kind. In their work they constantly try to investigate the limits of the theatre and performance and the assets they bring to the modern man. In addition to theatre productions and performances, they have made several installations in art galleries, site-specific projects, books, photo exhibitions and videos.’
Script of the production: SK
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