Architects of Fantasy, Forkbeard Fantasy

Architects of Fantasy, Forkbeard Fantasy

Forkbeard Fantasy is a theatre and film company which has been touring their shows, films, exhibitions and special events since 1974. Their theatre shows combine comedy with special effects, wild mechanical sets, outsize characters and their trademark mix of film, animation and live performance.

Architects of Fantasy was an exhibition commissioned by the Theatre Museum in 1999 featuring some of the highlights of their material from the last 25 years. Many of the contraptions and people were mechanically operated and some were exhibited at various states of completion to demonstrate how they were built. These objects, often characters in their own right, included large scale puppets, animatronic creatures and strange machines. All had featured in touring stage shows where they had come alive as part of the action.

Anthony was a life-size marionette with flailing limbs, a manic expression and rolling eyes. He was one of the star patients in Dr Smallman's Nursing Home in 'Hypochondria', the 1987 production by Forkbeard Fantasy. Made by Penny Saunders, he was the doctor's model patient in every sense of the word, consisting of so much spare-part surgery it was unclear how alive he really was. From the 1960s onwards, British theatre experienced an explosion of new kinds of performance - street theatre, carnival, visual theatre and live art, which challenged traditional ideas about theatre. Besides traditional actors, these performances sometimes used large-scale animated constructions - part puppet, part human.