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British theater group aims to emulate real life

Forced Entertainment performing “Tomorrow’s Parties.” Credit: Courtesy of Hugo Glendinning

A theater troupe will make the trek across the pond for three performances on campus this weekend.

Forced Entertainment, a performing arts company based in the United Kingdom, will be performing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Wexner Center for the Arts. The group, who began working together in 1984, will be performing two different shows: “Tomorrow’s Parties, and two performances of its newest show, “Real Magic.

Chuck Helm, performing arts curator at the Wex, said he brought Forced Entertainment into the Wex about 15 years ago, and he is excited to have them return due to their prominence in the UK.

“They’re one of the leading experimental theater companies in the UK … So I was always interested in bringing them back,” Helm said.  

Helm also said this event is notable because the company rarely does performances in North America, and they will be performing not just one of their shows, but two.

Forced Entertainment’s creative designer, Richard Lowdon, said the company was doing a couple of commissions in the United States when they agreed to perform at OSU. The company’s artistic director, Tim Etchells, recently won the Spalding Gray Award, which funded the creation of “Real Magic.”

“We were over in the States, and so, it seemed like an opportunity to revisit the Wexner,” Lowdon said. “So, kind of good to be able to come back.”

The first show, “Tomorrow’s Parties,” performed on Friday is an improvised dialogue between actors discussing their visions of the future.

“It can be anything from a really simple thing to a really grand utopian vision or it could be a dystopian vision,” Helm said.

Lowdon said the show has a playful element as the two actors speculate back and forth on what the future may hold. He said the show can be funny, but can also provoke thought for the audience members.

“It’s funny at times,” Lowdon said. “Then other times it kind of opens up a way of thinking about the future and maybe also about the present as well, about how our lives are now, and how strange things are and the things that we desire to change.”  

“Real Magic, the second show the company will be performing, is their newest. Lowdon said three performers act out a game show and mind-reading act. Audience members watch as the same scene gets played over and over, but with small changes added each time.

“It sort of evolves over time,” he said. “In a way it’s very much about, I suppose, that desire for change and also sometimes the impossibility to make the right decision in the moment.”

Lowdon said both “Tomorrow’s Parties” and “Real Magic” reach the company’s goal to mix tones in their pieces to emulate real life experiences.

“In a way, we’re always mixing things together because people’s lives are like that,” Lowdon said. “In the midst of the most serious, terrible things that happen your life, there’s also some terribly comic moments as well.”  

The performances on Friday and Saturday are scheduled for 8 p.m. and Sunday’s performance is scheduled for 2 p.m in the Performance Space of the Wex. Admission is $10 for students and $22 for the general public.  

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