Forced Entertainment Award

The Forced Entertainment Award (in memory of Huw Chadbourn).

In amongst the stress and bad news we are delighted to announce that the recipients of the 2020 Forced Entertainment Award (in memory of Huw Chadbourn) are Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas.

The award is aimed at an artist or company who is reinventing theatre and performance in new ways and for new audiences. Established in 2018, it is named after Huw Chadbourn, an inspiring close friend and colleague and one of the founder members of Forced Entertainment who died in 2017.

Announced at (more or less) the start of the year, following a nomination process involving invited professionals from the field of contemporary performance, the award comprises £10,000 closely linked to a substantial package of mentoring and subsidiary support, tailored each time to the needs and situation of the selected artist or group.

Financed by Forced Entertainment winning the International Ibsen Award in 2016, this scheme forms part of the company’s efforts to feed back some of our own success into the field, and to offer support to younger artists who are reinventing theatre and performance in new ways and for new audiences.

On receiving the award Bert and Nasi comment: “We are truly honoured to receive this award. During a time of so much uncertainty, we are grateful for the opportunity this brings to keep doing what we love. It’s hard to express how important Forced Entertainment have been to us as artists. Their work and the way they go about making theatre has been a huge inspiration for us since the very beginning. We will try to use this award to keep doing what we always have been doing which is make work and try to challenge our audiences. We want to thank our friends and family and everybody who has supported us and come to our shows. Thank you. Thanks FE.” – Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas.

Tim Etchells comments on behalf of Forced Entertainment:The Covid-19 crisis means that like most people in the arts and elsewhere we are currently looking at survival strategies for an uncertain future – how to continue our work with and for audiences in a national and international context in which rehearsals and live performances have become impossible and where all of our touring activity (always the major element in our income) has been postponed to some as-yet-unknown future date. It’s certainly, in that one sense at least, a strange time to be giving an Award.

We are nonetheless proud and incredibly happy to be forging a connection with Bert and Nasi over the next year and we’re hopeful that the Forced Entertainment Award (in memory of Huw Chadbourn) will be as constructive and impactful for them as it has been for previous Award winners Nic Green (2018) and Selina Thompson (2019).

It remains a privilege for us to support younger artists who are making and remaking theatre in light of their own experience and concerns and Bert and Nasi have proved themselves to be inventive, resourceful and challenging performance makers who use minimal means and humour to excavate topics of significance and relevance. Rehearsal visits and face to face mentoring will no doubt shift to Zoom encounters for the foreseeable future but we are enormously pleased to be able to make the next year a bit less precarious for Bert & Nasi, and to lend our mentoring and other support to them and their vital, inspiring work over the coming year, working on organisational stability, and helping them answer the questions (logistical, artistic and philosophical) they’re grappling with at this moment”. – Tim Etchells, Artistic Director.

Read more about Bert and Nasi here.

The recipient of the 2019 award was Birmingham-based artist Selina Thompson. She had this to say about the support of the company:

I think my key experience of having this award is of feeling held. I’ve felt a bit guilty at times – that I’ve had access to all this artistic knowledge if I wanted it but actually, my priority has been asking about managing the context to be able to deliver it well. Seeking advice on stability, the roots of the company, how those that work with me can have positive experiences, and how I can feel like doing that part of the work is also fulfilling. It’s very scary, but this award has given me permission to pick up the phone and be able to call in 30 years of experience. And that’s really amazing.

You can read Selina’s longer text about receiving the Forced Entertainment Award (in memory of Huw Chadbourn) here:

The recipient of the 2018 inaugural award was Glasgow-based artist Nic Green, who gave us a few words about their experience as the first recipient:

Questions about sustainability, collaboration, energy and balance have since come more brightly to light and through the award, I chose to address these in multiple ways. The award has also given a sense of support and confidence I needed to put things into action. Technically the term of this award will end soon but what I really feel is that it has opened up a sense of longevity.” – Nic Green, Artist.

You can read Nic’s full round up, here.

Huw Chadbourn (1963-2017) was an independent artist, actor, musician and performance-maker, an inspirational friend and one of the founder members of Forced Entertainment. In addition to his work with Forced Entertainment between 1984 and 1987, Huw made work with his own company Semblance, as well as creating performances with Axis Mundi and Dogs in Honey. He appeared in a range of TV shows including Smack The Pony and Annie Griffin’s Coming Soon.

The Process

The Forced Entertainment award recipient is selected through a nomination process involving invited professionals from the theatre and performance sector who each propose an artists or company they feel could benefit at this particular moment.

Drawing on their knowledge of the field and their awareness of artists who might most benefit from the support, nominators are also asked to consider the potential for connection with the practice and approaches of Forced Entertainment.

The collected nominations are then considered by a selection panel involving members of Forced Entertainment and invited people with an understanding of contemporary performance. Previous panels have included Lois Keidan (Live Art Development Agency), Tanuja Amarasuriya (Director/Producer, Sleepdogs), Matt Fenton (Artistic Director, Contact), Aaron Wright (Artistic Director Fierce Festival) and Reena Kalsi (Producer, Arts Admin).