The Coming Storm @ Battersea Arts Centre – Save 20% on Selected Performances
SPECIAL OFFER: To Do List is excited to bring you 20% OFF TICKETS for performances on November 21 & 22!
Just make sure to enter the Promotion Code ‘todolist’ when booking your tickets here. Simple.
The Coming Storm sees the innovative Forced Entertainment theatre company presenting a new work, a tangle of intercut stories which come together to form one edgy, thrilling performance. Expect humour (of the dark variety), arresting images and anarchic performances. Never a dull moment!
We caught up with Forced Entertainment’s Artistic Director, performance polymath Tim Etchells, to find out more about his varied work and about Forced Entertainment’s two-week take-over of the BAC…
Hi Tim, you’re a man of many hats – visual artist, writer, performer, curator, to name just a few. How does your work as Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment fit in with the rest of your work?
Sometimes things don’t fit so much as stack up! Often my joke is that when I catch the person that does my schedule he is in trouble – only problem is that the person is me of course.
I used to feel a certain amount of schizophrenia in moving between art forms and modes – jumping from performance to writing or to working in visual art context. Lately I’ve become more reconciled to the situation, I think because on a deeper (less pragmatic) level the work all joins up for me. My interest in language runs across all the areas of my work, and my understanding of how things work comes very much from performance. Even when working on neon signs for an installation or on fiction for publication I think very much about the event – the event of the viewer or reader encountering a work – texts perform I suppose, as much as people do, and that moment of encounter, the sparks and negotiations which arise form it are what define art as a place of interest for me.
In another way I think I’ve always been happy in the mess edges of things – in theatre that is not quite theatre, in dance that is pushing towards conceptual art, in music that is heading towards noise, in sculpture that dreams of performance. Things mix, melt, blur. That seems like a good place to be.
What is your proudest achievement during your time with Forced Entertainment?
I’m not sure there’s a single thing, or maybe just too many things to single one out. But perhaps the real achievement is the body of work, the sustained commitment to working with other people on a collaborative and equal basis over long, long years. With that comes a language – a way of working, a shared understanding, aesthetic and articulation – these are things one can’t find overnight. I think that whole long story of the company and its commitment to collaboration and experiment is something that stands as a pointer for other people too – to what’s possible, even in bleak climates like Thatcherism and the latest catastrophic economic and political situation we face here in Europe.
I’m really proud of The Coming Storm – it was a really difficult show to make, for those unknowable reasons that certain shows and processes are just hard (!), but we toughed it out in the rehearsal studio and the result is something really strong and new for us, drawing on what we’ve built before of course, but really opening doors to different ways of thinking. Again – the strength to do that together is something I’m really proud of in the group.
You’re taking over the BAC for a couple of weeks – how important is it to have a creative venue such as BAC to collaborate with?
Those relations with curators, festivals and venues who are finding new ways forward are really, really important. As an artist, or as a group of artists you basically don’t exist without those conversations and opportunities. Finding places where there’s mutual understanding, respect and support is really vital. Over the years it’s been those things which have sustained us, along with amazing support from audiences.
So many things! I’m looking forward to seeing the words START A REVOLUTION repeated many times in neon above the grand entrance staircase at BAC. I’m looking forward to reading from my new book – the comical, caustic and beautiful art project Vacuum Days which is published by Storythings this month – as part of Neon Friday on 23rd November.
I’m looking forward to seeing the amazing NY based performer Jim Fletcher do my monologue ‘Sight is the Sense That Dying People Tend to Lose First…’ on 22-24th. Jim played Gatsby in ‘GATZ’, ERS’s 8 hour adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’ which wowed audiences in the West End during LIFT this year – he’s equally un-missable in ‘Sight..’ which runs 22-24 November.
Most of all I think I’m looking forward to the shows with The Coming Storm – it’s been here there and everywhere since we opened the piece in the Summer at BAC and it’s great to see it so strong and funny and sad on tour again in the UK.
Right now I’m itching for the arrival of the Vacuum Days books which are arriving from the printers this afternoon!
I can’t say much at the moment as neither project has been announced but in the next year we’re hoping to make a large-cast site-specific show for a major European festival as well as presenting a super-sized version of a show in our current repertoire (with added audience participation) closer to home. Then in the autumn in the UK we’re touring a really beautiful small piece called Tomorrow’s Parties, about the future, possible futures, impossible futures.
For myself… I’m co-curating Exodos Festival in Ljubljana for April next year as well working on a number of new neon installation projects. Trying to stay calm in between things!