"Andy Owen Cook is a writer, designer, and performer from Sheffield, UK. His background is in writing and he makes work in a range of forms: performance, installation, digital, sound, film, image. His work is often political and fanciful.
He is a resident artist at Moor Theatre Delicatessen and a founding member member of Forest Sounds Theatre. He has a degree in English with Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham, is a graduate of the Writing Squad and completed the Collaborative Practise programme at the Battersea Arts Centre in 2013, and was a finalist for Contact's Flying Solo commission.
Most recently, Andy was a performer and deviser in Sad Siren Theatre's latest work, I Love You Will U Marry Me. The project started with interviews with members of the public, asking them what objects they have in their homes they haven't thought about or used in a long time but wouldn't throw away. The play featured verbatim material and songs. It was over-capacity for every night of its four day run at Theatre Delicatessen and had a four star review in The Stage.
"Andy Owen Cook is a consummate performer, writer and poet with a vision as mature and down to earth as it is incendiary and inspired."
- Luke Kennard
In 2013 Andy created PoetrySMS, the world's only text-message based poetry service. It was an experiment in making use of the 'unlimited' texts granted to mobile contract holders. The experiment ran for a year and gained over 250 subscribers until it became too big to function without commercialisation. It published alt-lit and poetry sent in by subscribers.
That year he completed two residencies: at HSBC in Manchester with the Writing Squad, and at The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book! at the Glasgow School of Art where he was a writer and artist in week long residency at the Mackintosh Library with the New Fire Tree Press. The project concluded in a showcase of poems that perform “off-the-page” using performance, projection and digital experience. All the work was produced on-site in the library and explored the room, the building, restriction and prestige.
In 2014 Andy was commissioned to make Maya 2.0, an audio tour for Poetry in the City, Bradford. In the tour, audience members find themselves locked in a virtual simulation of Bradford town centre as it malfunctions around them with serious consequences.
Following this, Andy decided explore collaboration and live experience, and so founded Forest Sounds Theatre with Ben Jackson and Heather Morgan. Forest Sounds is about collaboration and making politically and socially engaged live works. Its first piece was for Moor Theatre Delicatessen's Horror Souk festival and was called Did You Call The Police?. It was created in response to the Rotherham's child sexual exploitation scandal, which had exploded in media, and in the neighbourhood in Rotherham where I lived, just weeks earlier. We chose to look at the role of the police and local government in silencing the voices of victims. The piece took place almost entirely in the dark, to which end we built a fourteen meter long wall. We also worked with the musician Nathaniel Barry to create a soundscape, which surrounded the audience as the performance took place.
In 2015 it made The Sheffield Alternative Election, installation in which every participant helped to design a possible future for Sheffield. It ran the week running up to the 2015 General Election and culminated with the launch of the Sheffield Constitution on the night of the election.
Later that year it was commissioned by the DNweekeND to make The Poetry Call Box, which is a wheelchair-accessible two metre tall red booth with a phone inside. It is an installation that connects people with poetry in a playful way, designed for public settings. When the phone rings, audience members answer, and talk to the Poetry Robot, who is a sentient AI, developed by the Department of Poetry.
As a performance poet, Andy has been a featured performer all over the country, including Word Life, Theatre in the Mill, Bang Said the Gun!, Empty Shop, The Roundhouse, Backyard Sessions, FLIM NITE, Leeds School of Art, Off the Shelf Literature Festival, Gig n Me Lounge, Bradford Poetry Festival, and with the Leeds School of Dance. He has had poetry published by Black & BLUE, Rockland Lit, West Yorkshire Playhouse, New Fire Tree Press, Myths of the Near Future, the JOGGING, Internet Poetry, Now Then, Satellite's Telephone Project.
Currently, Andy is working with Forest Sounds to developing The Church of Jim. It has been scratched at Backyard sessions, Unaccompanied and Saturday Live!. It is a live show with spoken word, comedy, music and audience participation. In the piece, the audience are the newest members of a cult, based on the mysterious and prolific Jim. It is a response to the political and environmental realities of our time and is about trying to be hopeful in impossibly dire circumstances."
"Forest Sound's Theatre create riotous political pieces of theatre and poetry. Everything they offer up leaves me thinking about things in a new way."
- Theatre Delicatessen
"a genuine intention for positivity and community... Witty and thought-provoking"
- The State of the Arts
Forest Sounds' "The Church of Jim is a bizarre and wonderful theatre offering that leaves you delighted and disturbed. I can't wait to see its development."
- Theatre Delicatessen
"Forest Sounds performance of a 'Church of Jim' is an innovative piece that includes elements of spoken word, theatre and comedy. It was very entertaining and had clear potential for further development into a longer piece."
"Thought-provoking and clever"
- Sheffield Star
"Forest Sounds "break spine-bristling new ground ... make imaginative use of lighting, sound and text to shred the murky politics of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, demonstrating that immersive theatre still retains the power to shock your socks off."
- The Stage
- Audience feedback about the Poetry Call Box
"After a while, you start to journey into your own memories, to recall those discarded objects of your own. And as those ghosts start to come alive, you begin to realise that everything, from an old pair of NHS spectacles to a piece of romantic graffiti, has a story behind it. Though only an hour long, this production stirs up a lot of emotion."
- The Stage