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Our People

Tim & Chris Britton

Artists & Honorary Fellows (2020)

Tim and Chris Britton, who together with Penny Saunders are Forkbeard Fantasy, have been delighting, amazing and astounding audiences with their extraordinary blend of performance art, film and invention for over forty five years.

Forkbeard Fantasy began in 1974 and soon established a reputation at festivals, including Edinburgh, and alternative venues with early performance pieces such as The Great British Square Dance. Their work grew to encompass film, puppetry and animation as well as performance, and they developed their unique technique of seamlessly combining film with live performance. Penny Saunders’ design work, including not only costumes but a variety of creatures, puppets and contraptions, added a further rich element to the work. Their blend of art, experimentation and humour attracted growing audiences and theatre shows including A Serious Leak, Barbers of Surreal and The Fall of the House of Usherettes were performed in major theatre venues and the West End as well as in schools and community centres.

From their earliest days, education work has formed a central element of Forkbeard’s work and their creative projects in schools, and their residencies, workshops and village film festivals have introduced many children and young people to the joy and importance of art. Numerous people whose first experience of art was at a Forkbeard workshop or residency have gone on to make their careers in the arts.

Tim and Chris’ first visit to Plymouth was in 1976, when they performed The Government Warning Show at Plymouth Arts Centre. The company relocated to Devon in 1983 and over the years have performed at venues throughout Devon from village halls, community centres and schools to theatres and television studios. In 1989 they worked with local television company TSW, and many Plymouthians still remember the giant inflatable blue woman who floated above the TSW studios, while Tim appeared as a giant crow dodging traffic on the Derrys Cross roundabout below.

In the late 1990s Forkbeard established their own studios in mid Devon where they continued their programme of workshops and education projects and established the Museum of Forkbeard. Over the last forty-seven years they have created 150 live shows, films and interactive exhibitions. Tim continues to write, draw and voice his own 2-D animations under the Forkbeard Animation banner.

Arts University Plymouth awarded an Honorary Fellowship to Tim and Chris Britton in 2020 in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the arts in performance.

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