UK-based theatre company Forced Entertainment has been working collaboratively for 30+ years. Their website is a great and comprehensive resource: learn more about the company’s process, their history, and the unconventional cast of Complete Works.

Co-founder and artistic director Tim Etchells writes about “time as frame” in Forced Entertainment’s work, turning to Complete Works at the end:

The six Forced Entertainment performers’ narrations, made vivid by low level puppetry, are each around 40 minutes long, and they unfold at a rate of four a night… The 35–45 minutes of each performance makes them delicate, fragile – temporal objects which weigh little when considered alone. But spread out… in serial form, the sequence makes a different imprint, creating a different relation to the running real time of the whole festival. “Complete Works” is a kind of time machine in other aspects too – it brings narrative shapes from 1600 to the present, condensing epic drama as everyday, intimate narration.

Read reviews of the show(s) from the Guardian (and another from the Guardian) and the LA Times. Plus, live-written, play-by-play responses from Exeunt.

Office Hours

NY Times Interview with Tim Etchells

Each play is a solo show, abetted by armloads of household objects: cups, cans, kitchen twine, wood glue, gin. Juliet is a jar of marmalade. Hamlet is a bottle of vinegar. (Genius.)

Program Note: Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

Approaching all the Shakespeare plays in a single project, albeit focusing entirely on the narration of the plots, we’re in at the deep end, and somehow pretty much dodging the bullet at the same time.

Get Into It: Trailers & Behind the Scenes

Prop Stars

If you’re hooked on props after seeing Forced Entertainment work their magic… you’re not alone.

Peek inside the New York Library’s collection of “Weird Objects,” including a lock of Walt Whitman’s hair, Jack Kerouac’s boots, and Virginia Woolf’s cane.

Get an overview of fields of study that focus on objects, plus links to interesting articles, in JSTOR’s blog (did you know JSTOR has a blog?) “Personification is your Friend: The Language of Inanimate Objects“:

Despite science’s general reluctance to approve of personification techniques as a teaching aid, this is really a natural way for people to express information—personification does often help us to understand concepts through human analogy. By turning objects into individuals, we can relate emotionally to their ‘histories,’ making them more memorable and studies have shown this does help kids learn.

Everything is Alive” is a new podcast featuring host Ian Chillag, interviewing inanimate objects. Listen to an interview with Ian Chillag and NPR’s Ari Shapiro, and read a review of the podcast in the New Yorker.

Read All About It

If you want to read more about Shakespeare, you’re in luck — there are no end of resources. Here are a few that we like:

Harold Bloom. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. Riverhead Books, 1999.

Sarah Brown, Robert Lublin, and Lynsey McCulloch, editors. Reinventing the Renaissance: Shakespeare and his Contemporaries in Adaptation and Performance. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Marjorie Garber. Shakespeare and Modern Culture. Anchor, 2008.

Jan Kott. Shakespeare, Our Contemporary. W. W. Norton & Company, 1961.

Michael Dobson and Estelle Rivier-Arnaud, editors. Rewriting Shakespeare’s Plays For and By the Contemporary Stage. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017.

Plus, peruse MIT’s comprehensive archive: “Global Shakespeare

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

Daniel Mallory Ortberg takes on the greats in his Dirtbag Shakespeare series, which “imagines modern remakes of Shakespearean plays with a teenage dirtbag cast”:

JULIET: do you know what I think would be super romantic
ROMEO: what
JULIET: if we drank poison together
ROMEO: yeah
okay yeah
JULIET: hell yeah
you go first babe

Still too long? Read one-sentence summaries for each of Shakespeare’s plays here.

Macbeth: the key to a lasting marriage is murder
Troilus & Cressida: Your name may be in the title of the play, but that doesn't mean you're important.
Othello: Jealousy is bad, and murder, that is also bad.