The Expanded Theatricalities Chair

Forced Entertainment. Things That Go Through Your Mind When Falling

From 28 September to 1 October 2023 - Check programme
José Antonio Sánchez and Isabel de Naverán (ARTEA)
Organised by
Museo Reina Sofía

Curated by the research-creation group ARTEA, the Expanded Theatricalities Chair analyses the thought inhabiting stage and performance practices, encouraging the listening and dialogue that materialises between artistic practices and modes of social theatricality. The aim is to punctuate the political potency of theatre, choreography and action art, taking into consideration that which is inherent in all of them: the modes of collaborative production and the simultaneous presence of bodies, differentiated and individualised, turned into places that posit discourses, the manifestation of forms of dissidence and the emergence of desire as the driving force of life.

This third edition is articulated around the artistic and discursive trajectory of Tim Etchells and his work with Forced Entertainment, a collective founded in Sheffield, England, in 1984 and made up of Robin Arthur, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor and Etchells as artistic director. Forced Entertainment, which came into being at the height of Thatcherism, has remained active for almost forty years, challenging neoliberal individualism with a practice based on uncertainty, questions, expressing fears, self-mockery, and also shared dreams, connective power and temporal dissidence. Although their central medium is the stage, their works combine writing, visual installation and interventions in public spaces, their theatre work based on the tension between being physically present and constantly leaving oneself by way of literarization, masking (as puppet or animal) and loss (of voice, movement, the image itself). Their durational performances enable a reflection around exhaustion, an echo of unregulated and alienating work that could also be called “inhumane”. Forced Entertainment, therefore, invites the audience to avoid being distracted spectators, prompting them instead to be witnesses that dare to face destabilisation and become involved in the aesthetic experience, which in turn is an ethical and political action.

In this instance, the Expanded Theatricalities Chair gives equal relevance to artistic and discursive presentations. The programme gets under way with a shortened version of the collective’s durational performance Quizoola!, followed by lectures by Adrian Heatfhfield and Giulia Palladini, giving rise to a comprehensive approach to the group’s trajectory and pinpointing specific contributions. In a performative format, the talks of Tim Etchells and Juan Domínguez set up a dialogue between the work of both artists — starting out from different trainings and contexts, they have mobilised from common ethical and poetic concerns: language, temporality, stage presence and a questioning of the idea of the spectator and their material reality. The programme draws to a close with three interventions: three video creations by Etchells in Episode 6 of the Museo Reina Sofía Collection, the individual performance 12 am. Miniatures in spaces of transit and the action Some Imperatives, in collaboration with the Museo’s MA in Performing Arts and Visual Culture.

Further, the encounter is linked to the research project The New Loss of Centre. The Critical Practices of Live Arts and Architecture in the Anthropocene, developed by ARTEA since June 2020. The project focuses on the study of theatricalities inside the framework of environmental humanities, a transdisciplinary field which looks to bridge the gap between the sciences and the humanities, accepting that humans are simply one more agent among others that shape the environment. Stemming from this research project are different public activities conducted by the Museo Reina Sofía’s study groups: Body, Territory and Conflict (2020–2021), Conjugating Worlds: Multi-Species Corporealities (2022) and Collective and Planetary Mourning (2022–2023), coordinated by Fernando Quesada, the project’s academic director, and Isabel de Naverán, an advisor to the live arts programme in the Museo’s Public Activities Department. Both are members of the ARTEA research group. 


Juan Domínguez is a performer, choreographer and curator who lives and works in Berlin. His work explores the relationship between different codes, advocating the complete dissolution between fiction and reality — using the former to produce the latter, and vice versa — and facilitates participation and the idea of co-authorship among all agents involved in an aesthetic experience. His most recent performances most notably include Rhythm Is The Place (2023), as well as This Is Not Normal (2021) and This Is Still Not Normal (2022), both in collaboration with Arantxa Martínez Fernández. He was the artistic director of the festival In-Presentable, La Casa Encendida (2003–2012) and co-curator of Living Room Festival (2010–2017), the Picnic Sessions, Museo CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (2013–2015) and the Festival Avant-Garten in the International Sommer Festival-Kampnagel (2017), Hamburg (Germany), among others. 

Tim Etchells is an artist and writer from the UK whose practice oscillates between performance, the visual arts and fiction. He has directed the Forced Entertainment group, based out of Sheffield (England), since it was founded in 1984, and his visual work has been shown and presented at institutions around the world. Etchells has collaborated with different musicians, artists and performance creators, for instance Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods, Marino Formenti, Taus Makhacheva, Vlatka Horvat and Aisha Orazbayeva. His monograph on contemporary performance and Forced Entertainment, Certain Fragments (Routledge, 1999), has received widespread acclaim and his most recent publications most notably include Amends (Monitor Books, 2023), Endland (And Other Stories, 2019), Vacuum Days (Storythings, 2012) and While You Are With Us Here Tonight (LADA, 2013). He received the Manchester Fiction Prize in 2019.

Adrian Heathfield is a writer, dramatist and curator. His work spans live art, experimental theatre and dance, and he is the author of Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh (The MIT Press, 2008) and the editor of other books, including Things That Go through Your Mind When Falling. The Work of Forced Entertainment (Spector Books, 2023), a recent work on the group’s trajectory published in conjunction with their 40th anniversary. He was curator of the exhibition Doing Time, presented in the Taiwan Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, and co-curator of the programme Live Culture at London’s Tate Modern in 2003. Heathfield has collaborated with numerous artists on dramaturgy, writing, film and performance projects. He was chairman of the Performance Studies international platform from 2004 to 2007 and is an emeritus professor in Performance and Visual Culture at Roehampton University (London).

Isabel de Naverán holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country and is an independent researcher. She is part of the ARTEA research group, her studies exploring the crossroads between art, contemporary choreography and performance in curation, publishing and writing projects. In 2010 she founded, with Beatriz Cavia, Miren Jaio and Leire Vergara, the project Bulegoa z/b – Office for Art and Knowledge, with which she was associated until 2018. She is the author of Envoltura, historia y síncope (Caniche, 2021) and Ritual de duelo (Consonni, 2022). Currently, she is a live arts advisor in the Museo Reina Sofía’s Public Activities Department and a research fellow in the Azkuna Zentroa Centre of Contemporary Society and Culture in Bilbao.

Giulia Palladini is a researcher and critical theorist whose work spans different languages and fields of knowledge, exploring politics and erotics in artistic production, as well as social and cultural history from a Marxist and feminist perspective. She has worked as a full professor of Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Roehampton (London), and an Alexander von Humboldt fellow and lecturer at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee (Germany). She is the author of The Scene of Foreplay: Theater, Labor and Leisure in 1960s New York (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and the co-editor, with Marco Pustianaz, of Lexicon for an Affective Archive (Intellect Books, NInA and LADA, 2017). In 2021, she directed the international research group Feminismos Antipatriarcales and Poetic Disobedience, which is part of the collaborative project Queer Feminist Currents.

José Antonio Sánchez is a lecturer in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) in Cuenca and the founder of the ARTEA research group and the MA in Performing Arts and Visual Culture, organised by UCLM and the Museo Reina Sofía. He is the author of Brecht y el expresionismo (UCLM, 1992); Dramaturgias de la imagen (UCLM, 1994); La escena moderna (Akal, 1999); Prácticas de lo real (Visor, 2007); Cuerpos ajenos. Ensayos sobre ética y representación (La uÑa RoTa, 2017); and Tenéis la palabra. Apuntes sobre teatralidad y justicia (La uÑa RoTa, 2023). Furthermore, he has coordinated different events of thought and creation, for instance Situaciones (1999-2002), Jerusalem Show (2011) and No hay más poesía que la acción (2013), and co-directed, with Juan Ernesto Díaz and Ruth Estévez, the stage version of Palabras ajenas (2017-2018), by Argentinian artist León Ferrari. He has also been part of different work groups in the Museo Reina Sofía in relation to performing arts and live arts.

Forced Entertainment is an experimental theatre company, founded in Sheffield (England) in 1984, devoted to creating theatre works, performances and participatory projects locally, nationally internationally. Its mission is to explore the possibilities of playful art, and its power to provoke and capacity to connect with people. At the heart of the company is a group of six artists: Tim Etchells (artistic director), Robin Arthur, Richard Lowdon (designer), Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O'Connor. The group also collaborates with associate artist Tyrone Huggins and guest artists such as Seke Chimutengwende, Nicki Hobday and Jerry Killick.

Educational programme developed with the sponsorship of Santander Fundación

Estrella Damm


Actividad pasada Thursday, 28 September 2023
Session 1

5pm – 9pm Quizoola! Durational Performance
— By Forced Entertainment
English, with simultaneous interpreting into Spanish

This edition of the Chair opens with Quizoola!, an improvised performance in which the artists continually ask and answer questions. Whether philosophical, trivial or deeply personal, the performers invent replies on the spot: they can be either true or made up, long or short, serious or comical. Thus, the atmosphere of performance moves from intimate chat to pub quiz to absurd interrogation. Part game, part improvisation, the spectator comes into contact with an atmosphere charged with live energy.

The original duration of this dark and hilarious Forced Entertainment classic by runs from six to twenty-four hours, and in this case in the Museo there will be a shortened four-hour version carried out by two of the group’s performers. As in all of the group’s durational works, the audience of Quizoola! is free to come and go as they please, and can decide if they wish to remain in their seat for a long time or leave the room at different points to see what happens.

Nouvel Building, Auditorium 400

400 people


Free, until full capacity is reached

Actividad pasada Friday, 29 September and Saturday, 30 September, and Sunday, 1 October 2023
Session 2

Some Imperatives. Durational Performance
— With Tim Etchells, in collaboration with the MA in Performing Arts and Visual Culture Visual

Some Imperatives is a durational performance comprising a sequence of short texts painted by a lone artist on a wall. The text of the piece is made up of different slogans, demands for change, action or protest, philosophical reflection and political re-thinking.

As the individual texts shift register — poetic, absurd and pragmatic — the process of the performance (painting text, erasing and then painting repeatedly again in the same location over a period of time) foregrounds the writing itself as a process of erratic argument and contradiction. As the walls used to paint on are repeatedly marked, the text’s iterations build up, partially showing through layers of paint to create a disordered residue of the ongoing action.

The performance features the participation of Tim Etchells, in a collaboration with the MA in Performing Arts and Visual Culture.

Sessions and times
Friday, 29 September – 12pm, 12:30pm, 1pm and 1:30pm
Saturday, 30 September – 1pm, 1:30pm, 2pm and 2:30pm
Sunday, 1 October - 12pm, 12:30pm, 1pm and 1:30pm

Sabatini Building, Floor 3, connection with the Nouvel Building

20 people per session


Free, until full capacity is reached, with prior ticket collection on the Museo Reina Sofía website from 10am on the last working day before the activity. A maximum of 2 per person

Actividad pasada Friday, 29 September 2023
Session 3

4:30pm - 4:45pm Presentation
— By José Antonio Sánchez

4:45pm - 5:45pm Exquisite Catastrophe
A Lecture by Adrian Heathfield
English, with simultaneous interpreting into Spanish

How can we conceive stage experimentation events such as those by the theatre collective Forced Entertainment? How can those events relate to the process of collaborative creation and what do they break and put in place? If our human identity is currently marked by volatility, its violent relationship to nature and the threat to its continuity, how are these realities evoked from the practice of Forced Entertainment?

This lecture sees Adrian Heathfield trace the strands of a catastrophic imaginary — at times anxious and melancholy or joyous and ecstatic – which flows, shudders and transforms through the company’s body of work.

5:45pm - 6:45pm The Slow Hurry of Figuration
A Lecture by Giulia Palladini
Spanish, with simultaneous interpreting into English

This lecture sees researcher Giulia Palladini explore the temporality and aesthetic of Forced Entertainment’s work. More specifically, it addresses the technique of figuration that has characterised the company’s practice across its four decades of collaborative creation. Starting from the Latin expression festina lente, Palladini puts forward the concept of “slow hurry” as the reading prism of a series of practices she believes distinguish Forced Entertainment’s work, imaginary and theatrical language. Therefore, she believes “slow hurry” characterises this in different ways: a tempo that is often present on stage, one which participates in certain structures of recognition for the returning spectator and which affects the collective creative and durational process that hides the work in its entirety. In the pieces of Forced Entertainment “slow hurry” works like a technology that exerts itself to open the potentiality of figuration.

Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 and online platform

200 people


Free, until full capacity is reached

Actividad pasada Friday, 29 September 2023
Session 4

7pm – 9pm 12am: Miniatures
— By Forced Entertainment

12 am: Miniatures is an abridged version of 12 am..., a physical and visual performance that explores the relation between object and label, image and text. The piece functions as a kind of narrative kaleidoscope as the named figures, in different combinations, share space beneath the backdrop of electric stars. The piece plays on the growing exhaustion and inventiveness of its performers as they endlessly reinvent their identities using signs and clothing to create new stories or juxtapositions between characters.

The original piece was developed with material first used in a play in the company’s theatre performance Emanuelle Enchanted (1992) and is the first durational piece (from 6 to 11 hours in its original version) created by Forced Entertainment. The complete list of characters/signs used in 12 am... is published in the essay collection Certain Fragments (Routledge, 1999), by Tim Etchells. The performance is carried out by Richard Clowdon, Tim Etchells and Claire Marshall, Forced Entertainment members, in different spaces inside the Museo, with the audience free to come and go as they please. 

Nouvel Building, Floor 0, Room 001.01 Documenta 7, 1982, Room 001.04 Under One Image There Is Always Another and Room 001.09 Grrrls! Queer Feminist Action in the 1990s

150 people


Free entry, until full capacity is reached

Actividad pasada Saturday, 30 September 2023
Session 5

5pm – 6pm nO me tienE quE interesaR (iT Doesn’T havE to interesT me)
Performance Talk by Juan Domínguez

Going to the talk in this field is good timing!
Which field? – What talk?
I enter a place and gradually I move inside its different dimensions, ending up in a different place but without knowing where I am or how I got there, but also without feeling I’m lost. I don’t think about whether I’m interested or not, it doesn’t have to interest me. I feel and feel good here.
When I leave I’ll want to return, but will I do it? There are so many places I’ve felt good in and have never gone back.
That’s what I think this talk is about. About returning.
Returning? - Talk?

Juan Domínguez

6pm – 7pm A Question Without an Answer
Performance Lecture by Tim Etchells
English, with simultaneous interpreting into Spanish

Forced Entertainment endeavours to update and foster tensions, creating unstable constellations of meaning and perception in the space between stage and spectator, in the social and political zone of the auditorium and in the dynamic response — through active reading — of the spectators. The group is not interested in that which can be said, summarised or exhibited in an alternative way to the performance. The knowledge and “information” Forced Entertainment seek lies in (and is not separable from) the unfolding of collective time and energy, the movement of bodies and the public negotiation of co-presence. The meaning of the work is found solely in the act and situation of the performance itself, and in no other place.

In this lecture, Tim Etchells reflects on Forced Entertainment’s development and working process, referencing the performances carried out by the group across its forty years.

17pm - 7:30pm Break

7:30pm – 9:30pm Permanent Tension. Conversation
— With Juan Domínguez, Tim Etchells, Adrian Heathfield and Giulia Paladini. Moderated by José Antonio Sánchez
English and Spanish with simultaneous interpreting

After a forty-year creative trajectory, one can consider that an artist reaches a command of her medium which allows her to safely pursue her goals. Yet safety is precisely what Forced Entertainment’s practice avoids, partly through the intrinsic need for the creative process, partly as a response to the shifting cultural reality and politics. Stability does not come without prior destabilisation — balance is valuable in the place where it is hard to maintain. There is no creative commitment when the emergencies of reality are neglected, those pertaining to the people and beings with whom we live. All participants in this conversation are kept in this tension, both Forced Entertainment artists and the theorists accompanying their work from writing.

Conversation available on the Museo’s online platform.

Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200

200 people


Free, until full capacity is reached

In Juan Domínguez’s performance talk, entry will not be allowed once the activity is under way 

Actividad pasada From 28 September to 1 October 2023 - from 10am to 9pm
Video Creations
Activations in the Rooms of the Collection

Running in parallel to the activities during the three days of the Chair are three video creations by Tim Etchells that can be viewed in the rooms of the Collection:

Tim Etchells. Paint it Black
UK, 2014, colour, single channel, no sound, DA, 4’
Camera and production: Anna Krauss
Tim Etchells’s work Paint it Black arises from a simple task of interpretation, whereby the key lyric of the Rolling Stones song of the same name is enacted as a literal instruction. As on-screen images, adverts, texts and headlines from a range of magazines and newspapers disappear under black paint, Etchells’s continuous painting consigns rock stars and politicians, economists and models, natural landscapes and statistical charts to the darkness of oblivion. This audiovisual piece was first produced as part of Davis Freeman’s 2014 project Karaoke (ART).

Tim Etchells. Eyes Looking
UK, 2016, colour, single channel, no sound, DA, 3’.
This work was originally commissioned by Times Square Arts' Midnight Moment and shown in October 2016 on jumbotron screens in Times Square (New York) as part of the Crossing the Line festival. The piece highlights the small actions and human details that bring us together, generating a sense of the multitude of living, breathing and moving bodies present together in the public space of a city. Through the ephemeral materiality of ice, Eyes Looking reflects on the transformation of words which, as they dissolve to water, turn to pattern, shape and reflection.  

Tim Etchells. Untitled (After Violent Incident)
UK, 2013, colour, single channel, 67’
As its title suggests, Etchells’s video Untitled (After Violent Incident) began as a response to Bruce Nauman’s video installation Violent Incident (1986). In Nauman’s work, a man and a woman are shown across twelve screens in endless out-of-sync takes, enacting and re-enacting a brutal slapstick routine. In Etchells’s version, two performers — Lucy McCormick and Bruno Roubicek — loop the choreography of the original video in real time, repeating again and again its sequence of falls, kicks, slaps, and knockings-down. A brutal and at the same time comical repetition, achieved through physical duress rather than editing.

Nouvel Building, Floor 0, Room 001.01 Documenta 7, 1982 and Room 001.04 Under One Image There Is Always Another 


Access with general admission to the Museo