fanSHEN create theatre, live events and interactive experiences. We are based in Newcastle and work all over the UK. Founded in 2007 by Dan Barnard and Rachel Briscoe, fanSHEN collaborate with a brilliant group of creative people.

You can read about how we work here, and see some stuff we've written/ people have written about us here.

fanSHEN works with an eclectic mashup of influences; Aristotle sits alongside neuroscience sits alongside trashy 90s TV shows in our work. We want both anarchic chaos and intellectual rigour.

Sometimes what we make looks like theatre, sometimes it looks like a game or installation. Sometimes there are actors; sometimes there aren't. 

We’re fascinated by how we can take massive, important subjects like climate change or political agency and synthesise them into playful, approachable formats. We want to explore the different ways we can co-create with the people who experience our work - whether that’s about them playing within a structure we make, creating content, or committing radical acts of imagination.

We're driven by our vision; here it is below...


fanSHEN is a Mandarin word which translates roughly as ‘to turn the body’ or ‘to turn over.’ The word was used by the Chinese Communist Party to describe their radical, ambitious and ultimately highly destructive land reforms in the 1940s. It therefore evokes ideas of radical change and how terrifying radical change can be – themes which recur in fanSHEN’s work.

Our 2015 programme included Invisible Treasure, a sell-out run of a piece of actor-less, digitally-augmented indoor theatre; a six-month participatory arts project called Tooting Field Days which included games, craft and walking green routes in South London; and bringing our Ministry of Remoldability to locations as diverse as the British Museum and Deptford library to facilitate thought and action on how we can imagine a different, more just future.

In 2016 we collaborated with the Natural History Museum to create Questival, a new family festival of curiosity; made LLAMA OUTBREAK!, a pervasive game for a music festival which involved festival goers ‘infecting’ each other with llama-itus, a mysterious disease that turns you into a llama; and Lists for the end of the world, a studio theatre show made up entirely of lists. 

In 2017, we finished making Lists for the end of the world, and went on a mini-tour with it before heading to Summerhall for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We also made and toured audio-fancy-dress game Disaster Party as part of our Associateship at the Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln; and created the first iterations of Out of Sight and The Justice Syndicate.

You can see our current projects here.