In 2016, CAP UCLA presented Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare, which comprised condensed versions of all 36 of the plays of William Shakespeare over six days on the stage of Royce Hall. Each performance was limited to a maximum of 100 people, so many of our patrons were unable to attend. For our 2020-21 Season we were pleased to be able to once again share all 36 plays with our audiences—only this time they were the at-home versions where the six performers will restage the project online direct from their kitchen tables, each isolated in different places including Sheffield, London and Berlin.
The combined performances in Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare: At Home explore 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 and through a kind of lo-fi, home-made puppetry, the stories of the plays really do come to life in vivid miniature. Each play is intimately retold by one actor, sitting alone at a table alongside shelves lined with household objects and a collection of everyday products which become the play’s characters. A salt and pepper pot are used 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. 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.
Forced Entertainment is a collective of six theater artists who have been working together since 1984. They have long had an obsession with virtual or described performance, exploring in different ways the possibilities of conjuring extraordinary scenes, images and stories using language alone. Their work forges a strong link between form and content, reflecting the belief that the form of a project—the kind of experience it presents, the contract it makes with its audience and how—is an inseparable and significant part of its meaning. Often described as being experimental or innovative, their approach to each work differs from project to project, taking inspiration from movies, the internet, stand-up, dance, bad television, performance art and music as well as from theatre itself. What ties the various strands of their work together is that the projects always strive to be vivid and original, demanding a lot from audiences and giving a lot in return.
Funds provided by an anonymous donor and the George C. Perkins Fund.
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.
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