Serbian National Theatre, Novi Sad
    NOVEMBER 2022 Serbian National Theatre, Novi Sad



Forced Entertainment (UK)

Directed by Tim Etchells

Devised and performed by Robin Arthur, Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O’Connor
Text Robin Arthur, Tim Etchells, Jerry Killick, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O’Connor
Design Richard Lowdon
Sound & Lighting Design Jim Harrison
Production Management Jim Harrison

Complete Works is a Forced Entertainment production. Co-produced by Berliner Festspiele – Foreign Affairs Festival Berlin and Theaterfestival Basel. Touring of the Complete Works project in 2016 is kindly supported by the British Council

All of the Shakespare plays condensed into a series of 36 forty five minute works played out on a one metre square tabletop.

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.

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 an ordinary table top.

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. In a brand new direction for the group, 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 first time they’ve approached dramatic literature and the Shakespearean legacy. The result is a kind of levelling of the plays – a gently comic re-casting of them via objects from the kitchen cabinet and grocery store shelves – as well as a celebration of their power as stories, and the act of storytelling and theatre itself.


At the heart of Forced Entertainment is a group of six artists (Tim Etchells (Artistic Director), Robin Arthur, Richard Lowdon (Designer), Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor) collaborating to make original theatre and performances together since 1984.

We develop our plans and rehearse at our base in Sheffield and tour to audiences across the UK and around the world. We also work with young people in Sheffield and other cities in workshops and longer projects, to help them develop creative skills and thinking and to make performances and other works of their own.

The theatre we create is something that needs to be live, something that generates energy and tension from its presence in a room with other people. We’re interested in making performances that explore the contemporary world, performances that excite, challenge and entertain other people. We’re interested in ideas at the same time as seeking to create confusion, silence, questions and laughter.

As well as performance works, we’ve made gallery installations, site-specific pieces, books, photographic collaborations, videos and even a mischievous guided bus tour.  The work makes a strong link between form and content, reflecting our belief that the form of a project – the kind of experience it presents, the contract it makes with its audience and how – is an inseperable and significant part of its meaning. Often described as being experimental or innovative, our work shifts approach from project to project, taking influence from movies, internet, stand-up, dance, bad television, performance art, music culture as well as from theatre itself. What ties the various strands of our work together is that the projects always strive to be vivid and original, demanding a lot from audiences and giving lot in return.

We typically develop projects through improvisation and discussion; for us simply trying things out in the rehearsal room is often the best way to find out more about the ideas we are exploring and what the performance potential of the material is. When projects demand it and when resources allow, we expand our team by inviting other artists and performers to join us, bring fresh energy and new ideas to the table.

Collaboration – as agreement and as disagreement – is at the heart of everything we do. The long term creative work of the group, co-operating as equals over the years and building up a truly shared language, repertoire, skills and ways of working, is the bedrock of Forced Entertainment, an artistic approach that is also a political way of thinking about how to make art and how to live and work with others. The participation and skill sharing work we do with young people and with younger artists is designed to share these approaches and to open creative possibilities and ways of thinking and doing for other people.