Matthew works internationally as a Director, with a strong focus on puppetry, object manipulation and physical theatre. He originally trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama as an Actor specialising in collaborative and devised theatre.
Alongside his professional directing career Matthew also teaches puppetry and movement internationally and has directed students in productions and projects from ArtsEd, East15 and the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama.
Credits include: Holes (UK Tour), Skellig (Nottingham Playhouse); Treasure Island (Leicester Haymarket Theatre); Once on this Island (ArtsEd); Holes (Nottingham Playhouse); Babe The Sheep-Pig (Polka Theatre & National Tour); Dinner at the Twits (Les Enfants Terribles, The Vaults); The Witches (Dundee Rep); Adventures in Wonderland (Les Enfants Terribles, The Vaults); and The Steadfast Tin Soldier (Little Angel Theatre & The Old Vic).
Associate/Assistant Credits include: War Horse (UK & International Tour 2019-2020); War Horse (UK Tour 2017-2018); Kiki’s Delivery Service (Southwark Playhouse); War Horse (UK, Ireland & South Africa 2013-2015); War Horse (Holland & Belgium tour 2014-2016); War Horse (Australia & New Zealand 2012-2013); War Horse (China 2016-2017); Alice’s Adventures Underground (Les Enfants Terribles, The Vaults).
Matthew is the Associate Puppetry Director for the National Theatre production of WAR HORSE, which has just completed an International Tour.
Matthew is the Puppetry Director for the critically acclaimed production of HOLES. The show initially ran at the Nottingham Playhouse in 2018 and has since embarked on a UK Tour.
Matthew recently Directed the world premiere of a new adaptation of TREASURE ISLAND, written by national treasure and established author Sandi Toksvig (The Great British Bake Off, QI). The production received rave reviews from audiences and critics alike, and was the first production at the newly reopened Leicester Haymarket Theatre.
“The final ingredient is the brilliantly-done puppetry, complete with well-observed rattlesnakes and deadly yellow-spotted lizards with glowing eyes"
“There are a few puppets in the show, a slithering rattlesnake, tarantula and the infamous yellow spotted lizards, one bite and you are dead, they are simple but elegant and the puppet mastery is faultless, they are very cleverly integrated into the show"
“Matthew Forbes' puppetry designs are clever...it is rich in creative tricks and touches”
“Crammed with yellow-spotted lizards, rattlesnakes and tarantulas, perfectly constructed by puppet director and co-designer Matthew Forbes. Seen scuttling across the vast desert floor like a scene from The Lion King or War Horse, the presence of puppetry shows a clever invention which only reinforces the canny construction of the meticulous plot”
“Puppetry is utilised brilliantly in the piece. Simple but skilfully operated, puppets portrayed the array of critters found in the deserts- including the famous yellow spotted lizards"
“I’ve rarely seen a piece as accomplished; a creative and technical feat of plate-juggling that delivers a big emotional drama with laughs, dancing – and most of all, yellow-spotted lizards…”
“Holes uses dance, costume and puppetry (there are evil-eyed lizards and rattlesnakes that appear as a kind of malignant and threatening force throughout the play) to witty effect”
“Funny, tender and profound family show based on David Almond’s mystical children’s novel”
“There are puppets; a dog, a cat and some owls, created from everyday found objects, but who are skilfully manipulated to look like they are alive. These puppets add another quirky, cartoon-like layer to the complex scene”
“A spirit of adventure laced with magical realism"
“Witty and original... Clever, funny and poignant”
“Energetically directed by Matthew Forbes... we are treated to a fun, musically and visually arresting show”
“Director Matthew Forbes delivers an enjoyable family production, perfect for Christmas... with much for children and adults alike to enjoy”
“The puppet director, Matthew Forbes, ensures that the deadly lizards that threaten Stanley and his friend Magnet feel properly deadly”
“There is clever and simple puppetry, some breath-holding moments... A fast-paced and inventive family show that works on every level”
“It begins with a display of puppetry that nods towards family hits such as The Lion King and War Horse. Except the snakes, spiders and lizards that slide and scuttle across the vast desert floor are venomous rather than cute and loveable”
“The people on stage are ably supported by puppet tarantulas, rattlesnakes and yellow spotted lizards which are absolutely perfect for this production”
“The stage is filled with animals and the incredible puppetry direction by Matthew Forbes lets your imagination do the rest”
“An outstanding feature of the production is the puppetry and mask work”
“The magic here is created largely by the excellence of the puppetry skills displayed throughout by the actors in well-fashioned, intricate and brilliantly choreographed displays”
"...puppet director Matthew Forbes – turns a hand-operated Babe into a character for kids to root for.”
"A host of wonderfully inventive puppets... Then, of course, there is Babe himself, an adorable puppet with moving limbs, mouth and even eyelids. Deftly handled and earnestly voiced, he makes for a charismatic protagonist”
"There is some thrilling ‘War Horse’ style puppetry choreographed by Matthew Forbes.”