Forced Entertainment 12AM: Awake & Looking Down


Five actors, an overflowing wardrobe and a series of signs... These are the apparently simple ingredients of a hilarious, hypnotic performance that goes beyond all norms. It brings to the stage the capacity of theatre to give life to characters and make us believe in the fictions they create.

“A nine year-old shepherd”, “the hypnotised girl”, “Elvis Presley (the dead singer)”, “An air-hostess forgetting her divorce”... Written on cardboard signs, these names and attributes summon up a whole host of ephemeral identities for the five performers in search of characters. For the duration of the six hour-long performance, the individuals onstage try out these designations on themselves and on others, thereby investigating the gaps in existence between appearance and identity, actor and character, words and things. The audience, free to enter and leave at will, becomes attached to these sections of narrative and characters which seem strangely familiar to them, even though they are born from nothing more than a costume and a few gestures or words. First performed in 1993, the piece was a turning-point in Forced Entertainment's work, taking them in the direction of an increasingly pared-down exploration of language, duration, and interaction with the audience. The piece is an ode to the faculty of theatre to create magic with the most summary means.