Sheffield based theatre company Forced Entertainment are to become the first ever UK based recipients of one of theatre’s most prestigious awards it was today announced. The International Ibsen Award, honouring extraordinary contribution to art and culture, is only given every two years by the Norwegian government on Henrik Ibsen’s birthday. The prize is 2.5 million Norwegian Kroner, equivalent to around £200,000. The first ever group to win the prize, Forced Entertainment join a distinguished list of previous winners including Peter Handke, Heiner Goebbels, Jon Fosse, Ariane Mnouchkine and Peter Brook. The award ceremony will take place during the International Ibsen Festival at the National Theatre in Oslo in September where Forced Entertainment will showcase a selection of their groundbreaking work.
Tim Etchells, Artistic Director at Forced Entertainment, said that the ‘list of previous winners is formidable and we feel honoured to be alongside them. We have been making work together for over thirty years now, asking questions about what theatre is and the kinds of experiences it can create in order to speak into the times we are living through; we are particularly proud that our collaborative work has been celebrated in this way.’
The boundary-breaking company has been making work since 1984 and is a key part of the contemporary European and UK theatre landscape, having shaped its development significantly over the last three decades. Their work is widely studied across UK and European university syllabuses as pioneering, trailblazing theatre.
The Award jury were keen to emphasise just how radically exciting Forced Entertainment are, saying that they ‘have created their own performative space within the history of theatre. Here, theatrical conventions are played out, and they are torn apart. This influential theatre group is a group that recognises the theatre as a central voice within society…They have developed a theatrical language that does not seek to represent the world beyond the theatre stage, but rather examines the reality of the theatre situation as being imaginary and speculative, as well as a real, physical space of experience – a language they have researched for thirty years.
The International Ibsen Award, founded in 2007 was established as part of the Norwegian Parliament’s national budget and is awarded every second year in March. It aims to stimulate critical debate about important social and existential issues. The winner is selected from a list of nominees by a committee of esteemed judges, all experts in their fields.
There are no conditions attached to the acceptance of the Ibsen Award, and anyone may nominate candidates. Nominations remain strictly confidential both prior to and after the winner of the award has been announced. The award ceremony and symposium take place in September during the International Ibsen Festival at the National Theatre in Oslo.