Dan Rebellato interviews Tim Etchells about Table Top Shakespeare, 23 August 2018.
In 2015, British experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment debuted a new show, 'The Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare,' at the Berlin Festspiele. It has since toured the world and been livestreamed on the internet. 'The Complete Works' is a retelling of the stories of each of Shakespeare’s plays, on a table, with one storyteller, and a variety of household objects who stand in for the characters. Very little of the original language is used. Each performance lasts around 40 minutes. It takes, as you might imagine, several days to see the complete 'Complete Works.'
The performances are remarkably engaging; it is surprisingly easy to invest ideas, attitudes and feelings in banal objects like a salt shaker or a can of tonic water and to treat them as if they are Ophelia or Henry IV. The performances are also, despite what it might seem, strangely respectful of the original plays. Despite using little or none of the celebrated language, the plays emerge starkly and engagingly, the careful calmness of the storytellers allowing the profound feelings, sharp conflicts, and terrible reversals of the original stories to come out.
As part of the conference, Shakespeare and/as Philosophy arranged by Richard Ashby and Jessica Chiba (RHUL, September 2018), Tim Etchells, the artistic director of Forced Entertainment, agreed to talk about this project. He couldn’t be present at the conference so Prof. Dan Rebellato of the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance agreed to conduct a video interview that would be shown at the conference and responded to by a group of scholars and thinkers about theatre, philosophy and Shakespeare.
We’re grateful to Tim Etchells for permission to make the interview available to a wider audience.