Matthew works internationally as a Director, with a strong focus on puppetry, object manipulation and physical theatre. He trained at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama as an Actor, specialising in collaborative and devised theatre.
Alongside his professional directing career Matthew also teaches puppetry and movement internationally working with students in productions and projects from ArtsEd, East15 and the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama.
Credits include: Hansel & Gretel (Nottingham Playhouse); Bluebeard's Castle (Beijing Music Festival); The Magic Flute (Welsh National Opera, UK Tour); A Christmas Carol (Nottingham Playhouse, Alexandra Palace, BBC & cinema release); The Good Life (UK Tour); Hansel & Gretel (Silent Opera, British Youth Opera); The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland (UK Tour); The Woman Who Finally Got Inside Her Husband's Brain (Omnibus Theatre); 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); The Diabolical Mr Punch (LeftCoast); 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); and Alice’s Adventures Underground (Les Enfants Terribles, The Vaults).
Matthew recently directed the revival of Bartók's BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE at the Beijing Music Festival. This multi award winning opera has been seen across the world and continues to impress audiences and critics alike.
This Christmas Matthew is busy providing puppetry direction for two shows at the Nottingham Playhouse; HANSEL & GRETEL in the studio, and the critically acclaimed retelling of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, adapted by Mark Gatiss (Dracula, The League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who). Following huge success in 2021, the show has been revived this winter, and will play at both the Nottingham Playhouse, and London's Alexandra Palace. The production featured spine-tingling special effects and puppetry "in a big, bold inventive, yet remarkably faithful staging of Dickens's evergreen opus" (The Telegraph).
Matthew was the Puppet and Movement Director for world premiere of a new production of THE MAGIC FLUTE. This exciting new adaptation by the Welsh National Opera takes the enchanting fairy-tale and gives it a modern twist. Vibrant sets, puppets, and costumes accompanied by Mozart’s sublime music and a witty story makes this the perfect opera for all ages.
Matthew is the Puppetry Consultant for THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. This Olivier and Tony Award-winning production returns for a 10th Anniversary UK & Ireland Tour.
Matthew was the Puppetry Director for the Wise Owl Theatre Company's production of THE ADVENTURES OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND. This timeless and beautiful production was a hit with critics and audiences alike.
Matthew is the Associate Puppetry Director for the National Theatre production of WAR HORSE, which has recently completed an International Tour.
Matthew 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 production is utterly, and fabulously, theatrical... ethereal ghosts fly over the heads of the audience by means of the simplest of puppet-making techniques.... in a big, bold, inventive yet remarkably faithful staging of Dickens's evergreen opus. The standing ovation it received on opening night will not, one suspects, be its last”
"...the inherent theatricality in Dickens's storytelling, is heightened with the use of puppets and some bewitching surprises such as a delightful cloud of ghosts that suddenly emerge and swing around the auditorium”
"A Christmas Carol entertains with its ghostly atmospheres and compassionate stories... a range of devices are employed to convey the story including singing, dancing illusion, video and puppetry”
"The is how to make Dickens's greatest hit feel both surprising and familiar! Cast members manipulate a puppet dog...then later lift Gatiss as Marley's ghost so that he appears to levitate”
"...the presence of projections, puppets and all sorts of flying spectres makes for an immersive and textured experience”
"We have puppets, illusions, projections - each wonderful concocted”
"Traditional with a twist... there is so much seasonal joy on display”
"Gatiss draws on some of the horror of the story, like the ghostly children of Christmas Present, ignorance and Want, puppets with grey, emaciated faces”
"A dramatic, spine-tingling production”
"A goat named Geraldine...a scene-stealing puppet”
"Puppet goat Geraldine is almost worth the price of admission alone”
"Magical effects - shadow puppets, flying birds - are coaxed out of what seems like a junkyard”
"The combination of puppetry and dance used for some of the numbers, notably the Act Two dream pantomime was both brilliantly inventive and skilfully executed”
“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 puppet director, Matthew Forbes, ensures that the deadly lizards that threaten Stanley and his friend Magnet feel properly deadly”
“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”
“There is clever and simple puppetry, some breath-holding moments... A fast-paced and inventive family show that works on every level”
“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.”