Sheffield theatre group first to win prize

Bloody Mees by Forced Entertainment
Bloody Mees by Forced Entertainment
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Members of a Sheffield theatre company are celebrating after winning a prestigious arts prize worth £200,000.

Forced Entertainment group stalwart Richard Lowedon admitted he was ‘gobsmacked’ by the news that the six-strong company are the first-ever British winners of the International Ibsen Award.

Honouring extraordinary contribution to art and culture, the award is only given every two years by the Norwegian government on internationally-famous Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s birthday. The prize is 2.5 million Norwegian kroner, equivalent to around £200,000.

Performer and designer Richard said: “It was quite a shock, quite a bolt from the blue. We didn’t even know such a prize existed.

“We did know about it in advance before it was announced but it’s one of those things where they don’t even announce who’s been nominated or anything.

“It was just a complete shock, I just thought, ‘my God, that’s incredible’. We were just very flattered and touched and honoured.”

Richard said why he believed Forced Entertainment had been chosen for the award. “We have been making work for 32 years now and that is really a long time. That would not be unusual for a director on his own but it’s very unusual for a group of people to stay together and keep making work.

“Most groups would have fallen apart or the work slackened off.”

The prize money would be ploughed back into the company and may be used partly for a mentoring scheme.

Forced Entertainment is known for its experimental approach to making work. One play lasted 24 hours and in another, members spoke only in gibberish.