Forced Entertainment, Dreams’ Winter

Review in Issue 6-3 | Autumn 1994

Dreams’ Winter was a site-specific performance in Manchester Central Library by Forced Entertainment and twenty guest performers. The Library is a huge circular domed building, with stunning acoustics. Every sound echoed and ricocheted across the space making it impossible to know what whisper or sound was coming from where and the perfect site to further the company’s collaboration with composer John Avery.

The audience were seated at the library tables which circled the space like spokes. The performance began with a sound track, a series of questions multiplied by the echo ‘and is this the word they use for river, and why do birds sing?’, question on question and ‘if I write the history will they be my children too? … and if you cut open the body where is the person?’. The questions seemed to be almost a plea to knowledge and learning, making me want to grab at a book – and with the audience so close to the bookshelves it made me want to get to the heart of the why and how of everything.

The performers entered wearing pyjamas, reading books, sleepwalking through the library. Then they ran, fast around the space, dropping and slamming books, cutting through the reverent atmosphere and creating a composition together with the sound track. There was something urgent, almost paranoiac to their running, like trying to run each other out or racing themselves, until finally they fell asleep at tables. Book definitions, lists, indexes, people, places and names criss-crossed the space. Yet, somehow despite the energy and the humour, there was a sense of solitude, of loneliness, even of shouting out for others. ‘Dear X. I think I’m working too hard,’ one lone voice called. Amongst the many voices and the surrounding knowledge there seemed to be a call for something more human, for contact perhaps.

For me Dreams’ Winter became a chance to indulge in the reverence of the library, to indulge in the voices of the books and in their fictions, to get lost with the performers and come back, a chance to want to know the answer but not to have to get it, but most of all it was a chance to indulge in the vastness of the space and of history.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jul 1994

This article in the magazine

Issue 6-3
p. 25