A hired van gets an early attempt at a Gob Squad brand identity
1992 A bunch of long-haired students at Nottingham Trent University's Creative Arts course make up a performance to get into Glastonbury festival for free. The piece is hailed as wonderfully entertaining nonsense by the Glastonbury revellers and a sharp Marxist critique of the class system by their tutors back at college. Taking their name from a mix-tape playing in the van on the way to Somerset, they call themselves "The Gob Squad". They go on to make 4 further Glastonbury shows, all in exchange for free tickets.
1994 The group graduate from university and make their first professional piece of work, House, performed in a Nottingham council house. Sean Patten, Sarah Thom and visiting Gießen theatre science student Berit Stumpf get the project started and are later joined by Theatre Design graduate Liane Sommers, fellow Gießen student Johanna Freiburg and "rocket artist" Miles Chalcraft. Alex Large plays a duster salesman in the back garden. The project is commissioned by young arts producer Simon Will for Expo 94 with a total production budget of £400. The group make their first TV appearance, a 3 minute slot on "East Midlands Today".
1995 Patten and Thom spend their entire earnings from a bit of teaching work on a PC. They become the first people on their (admittedly run-down) street to own a computer and write the concept for Work on it, enthusiastically handing it in personally to NOW festival director, Andrew Chetty. Later that year, Work is performed in Nottingham from 9-5 each day for a working week. The core membership of the group for the next 5 years all work on the project: Freiburg, Large, Patten, Sommers, Stumpf, Thom. Miles Chalcraft also collaborates. The production budget is over 10 times greater than for House. Half way through the process the entire group buys themselves some new clothes from Nottingham's trendy Hockley district. Miles Chalcraft doesn't perform again with Gob Squad for another 9 years.
1996 Now working collectively on the concept, design, devising and performing of their projects, the group produce An Effortless Transaction, performed in a furniture shop in Nottingham's Broadmarsh shopping centre. Despite trauma and relationship turmoil within the group, the piece is actually quite good and catches the attention of Berlin producer Aenne Quinones. The shop has since closed down.
1997 15 Minutes to Comply presented in an underground station at Documenta X. The group asks for the use of a train on the technical list. Their request is granted. However, it is politely explained that artists "don't get paid" to be in Documenta, so they learn the lesson that fortune doesn’t necessarily follow fame relatively early in their careers. The first Gob Squad office opens in Nottingham. Wages for admin work start to be paid at a rate of £1.25 per hour. First website and business cards produced. Alex Large edits first company promotional video. Close Enough To Kiss tours UK and Germany. First company computer purchased: Apple Performa 5400. Moving with the times, the word "The" is dropped from the group's official title.
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