A photo of three figures in black and white. They are distorted.
Image Credit: Louis-Philippe Rondeau - Liminal

About us

What we do

Fast Familiar make artworks which are participatory, playful and political.

We’re a group of artists from different backgrounds who design audience-centric experiences which often utilise ‘digital technology’.

We’re fascinated by human psychology in a rapidly changing world.

For us, art is a space to explore questions which are too complex for daily life.

We think art can be experimental and ambitious without being elitist.

If you’d like to contact us, please send us an email: hello@fastfamiliar.com

In a past life, Fast Familiar made work under the name fanSHEN - it’s used in various reviews and articles. You can see the work we made under that name, and the reason why we changed it here.


Fast Familiar’s lead artists are Dan Barnard, Joe McAlister and Rachel Briscoe.

Dan Barnard is a theatre director by training. He splits his time between Fast Familiar and working as Senior Lecturer at London South Bank University, where he leads the Digital Performance Research group. His research centres on interactive theatre. He has facilitated workshops on creating playable experiences in public spaces e.g. at the Counterplay Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, and given multiple academic papers on digital ‘theatre’. He won Best Short Paper at the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling 2018, for a presentation on Fast Familiar’s Looking for Love. He is also a trained Open Space facilitator.

Joe McAlister is a computational artist and a strong advocate for ecocentric transparency within digital art. He has sat on various panels discussing ethics and artistic practice relating to artificial intelligence, including events at IBM and the University of Nottingham. He lectures part-time at Goldsmiths, University of London on the MA/MFA Computational Art degree and advises on University of London’s online BSc degrees. In 2020 he was named one of Aesthetica’s 100 international contemporary artists, for his work at Fast Familiar.

Rachel Briscoe trained as a playwright (Royal Court and Soho theatres) and theatre director (National Theatre Directors Course). These days, she mainly works as a writer, dramaturg and producer. She participated in the inaugural Producer Farm (Dance Umbrella/ In Between Time) and completed the Clore Short Course for Cultural Leaders. She was part of the British Council’s SPACE programme and for 5 years to 2015 worked at Ovalhouse as Director of Theatre (jobshare) where the Guardian credited her with ‘restoring order to Ovalhouse with bold, experimental programming.’ Rachel is also a qualified Feldenkrais practitioner.

Fast Familiar have a wider group of multi-skilled creatives we collaborate with - and who we encourage you to employ, at generous rates and under favourable conditions.

These include Al Primrose, Clare Dunn, Delme Thomas, Emma Pallant, Endy Mckay, Guy J Sanders, Helen Skiera, Jamie Zubairi, Jon Foster, Kamaal Hussain, Kris De Meyer, Milo Quinton, Rachel Donovan, Shireen Mula, Sophie Galustian, Stu Barter, Yana Penrose & Zachary Hing.

Our board is Adam Alston, Nadeem Azhar, Alex Ferris, Sarah Heenan, and Christine Twite.

Awards and critical acclaim

Fast Familiar were selected for Aesthetica Art Prize Anthology: Future Now - 100 contemporary artists of 2020.

The Justice Syndicate was longlisted for the Lumen Prize, and received multiple 4 and 5 star reviews.

In 2019, Fast Familiar were selected to be part of the EU VERTIGO STARTS project; our residency resulted in Smoking Gun, which was chosen by the Financial Times as one of their ‘Top ten dramas to enjoy at home’ during the first COVID-19 lockdown.

Critic Mark Lawson (The Guardian, BBC Radio 4) reflected on Fast Familiar’s rapid and successful adaption to the conditions of 2020: “if prizes are given for lockdown drama, Fast Familiar should get a trophy for The Evidence Chamber and Smoking Gun – enjoyable but also scholarly entertainments. This is a company to watch, whether digitally or, when it again becomes possible, in person.” The Evidence Chamber, played online by participants from over 20 countries, was also featured by the New York Times as “an especially successful way for theater to be enjoyed from a laptop.”

National Elf Service, Fast Familiar’s first online puzzle game, was lauded by the escape room community. Review the Room called it “Refreshingly different (and beautifully assembled)” with high praise for the story. The Escape Matt-ster praised it for “one of the most well designed game interfaces I’ve seen in recent online game history” and declared “I unequivocally recommend this!”, while The Escape Room-er called it “”An absolute stand out game in the whole play at home genre!”

Partners and Commissioners

Fast Familiar collaborate with a wide range of partners who are interested in our methodologies and approaches.