Performances in Footnote Form: While You Are with Us Here Tonight

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JournalPerformance research
DatePublished - 26 Nov 2015
Issue number6
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)106-113
Original languageEnglish


Tim Etchells has made repeated use of annotations in his theatrical and reflective texts as a solo artist and writer, as well as in collaborating on the creation and documentation of Forced Entertainment's extensive body of work. This article takes the 2013 printed artefact While You Are with Us Here Tonight, collated by Etchells, as the starting point for a consideration of the various functions of the footnote in these written and performed works, concluding that the footnote is performative in ways that are productive for Etchells's creative project.

The book in question reproduces an already well-documented speech from Forced Entertainment's First Night (2001). To this body text - itself originally generated collaboratively - are appended more than a hundred footnotes, contributed by a number of individuals including Terry O'Connor (who delivered the text in the original performance), other Forced Entertainment collaborators and Etchells himself. I consider the content, connection and flow of these footnotes as reflective of a broader set of concerns that echo through the company's work, moving out from this printed work to consider the footnote across a range of these outputs.

The footnote form is interruptive, associative and topically bound, with the annotation often present (in these works at least) both as an indispensable part of the text and as an outsider looking in, or back. Etchells and his collaborators make use of these features of the footnote to develop their long-standing preoccupations with issues of performance, presence, authorship, place, memory and time. I propose the paratext of While You Are with Us Here Tonight as itself performative, and the footnote as a valuable metaphor in both the creation and the reading of Etchells's and Forced Entertainment's broader output over the past thirty years.

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