Good Chance in Paris

How Refugees Are Using Theatre to Welcome Parisians into Their Lives

It’s supposed to run for just over forty minutes, but it’s been going for an hour. Jack Ellis, a volunteer artist at Good Chance Theatre in Paris, peeps hastily through the curtains and motions cut. Alexandre Moisescot, curator at Good Chance and director of and actor in this Hope Show—a weekly presentation of work made during the week by refugees in theatre workshops—immediately falls into an improvised gag with Bashir, an Afghani refugee playing a security guard in a take on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. It ends with the audience clapping enthusiastically. Most are on their feet; some, like me, hide a tear. When does theatre ever match this sense of closeness and sharing? Not too often—and probably rarely in geodesic domes, which were used by Good Chance when the theatre first formed in the Calais Jungle, as a place where refugees could express themselves away from the problems they were facing. Now, as the company’s production arm prepares to transfer its showThe Jungle from…

MINSK 2020

I get to the airport. I pass the military woman guarding the stairs which leads away from passport control into a labyrinth of corridors going off in different directions and where I know from past experience, there is a toilet.  I daren't ask, but I might not make it through getting my health insurance, going through customs etc. I look at my phone. All else fades into non existence. Still no signal. It won't connect to a network. This is a problem, a big unwanted one.

You want taxi?
You want taxi
Sorry are you here for me?
What? You want taxi? You want to go Minsk?
I have one thank you
Taxi to Minsk..
No. I just said

I run back from Exit three up the stairs switching my phone on and off. Come on, come on.  I have to make contact with my driver, who is also letting me into my flat in Minsk.  He has the magic key. No one else can let me into this flat. We have to find each other. Otherwise...

People are looking. A man in uniform opens a door I have not noticed and saunters…

Gorky Park

Snow falling
then as long shadows
like hot bitumen
crying at Chernobyl

Scenes with girls review, Royal Court

Scenes with girls is set in a flat somewhere in a metropolitan city somewhere near you. It goes somewhere half near to something enlightening and then stops. The play is satirising, it loves words, hates words and draws a picture of the complexities and confusions buzzing around young women's heads as they enter the adult world of relationships, in particular, sexual relations with boys alongside the #MeToo movement and multiple narratives around sexual discourse and patriarchy which can dump everyone on a never-ending journey trying to find and ascertain their sexual identity, relationship ideal and power status. Or so it seems. Playwright Miriam Battye employs the relationship story to structure the drama. Millennials and same-sex friendship/couple flatmates Tosh and Lou want to reject the patriarchal “narrative” around boys (never quite explained) but at the same time,Lou also wants to have sexual adventures with them–lots of them. Tosh, of recognisable all-girls' school ang…

When the crows visit-review-Kiln Theatre

This is an unrelenting violent account of a mother, Hema, trying to protect her son, Akshay, after he commits a violent sexist act against a woman he barely knows. It is an investigation into misogyny and its parent or child, patriarchy and draws heavily on Ibsen’s Ghosts for a modern-day twist. Some critics are calling for more Ibsen plays to be set in India after seeing this show (as if India needs further colonising) but they have missed the point. Yes, the play draws on similar and related themes that are present in Ghosts and uses its structure as a guide to include discussions around the 2012 Delhi gang rape of a young woman (who died from internal injuries) and investigates why society is so anxious to turn a blind eye to such horrific crimes. But the play is also a global response to a global problem. Playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar has taken Ibsen’s classic to show how it needs to go beyond dissecting middle–class hypocrisies and get to the root of what allows them in the f…

On Bear Ridge review– Royal Court

Illness as a state of mind and body. A mountain to retreat to–the last bastion where people can huddle together to ward off evil forces. This is what this icicle of a play seems to signal. Yet recent history tells us that being marooned or forced onto a mountain does not guarantee safety–physical or otherwise.

In art, the mountain has always had an ambiguous meaning. So it is in Ed Thomas' eerily beautiful On Bear Ridge (a National Theatre Wales and Royal Court production) which he co-directs with Vicky Featherstone. Decades-long butcher man John Daniel (Rhys Ifans) and his wife Noni (Raki Ayola) who have long resided on Bear Ridge which is likely somewhere in Wales, though it is never defined; believe they are the last residents on its snow-capped outpost. No one comes. The surrounding area has been destroyed, fighter jets occasionally blight the skyscape with their sonorous booms, heightening the sense of war or an army in perpetual readiness for war. Life is elsewhere and John D…

Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. review – Royal Court

Caryl Churchill’s four new micro plays, directed by long-time collaborator James MacDonald, are a cerebral exercise in what it means to tell stories, how they’ve changed over the centuries or not, how we hold onto myths at the pain of our existence. They are a dissection too on how we consume them especially in the brave new world of social media and how we decide what is true and not. The plays also appear to track a change in style from a complete suspension of disbelief in Glass and Kill to something more hyperreal in Bluebeard's Friends and Imp.

As we expect with Churchill, the writing is precise. Glass a short 15 minutes four-hander, harks back to former plays like The Striker to look at the nature of the reality of our existence and the gap between that and how we process our experience of this existence. Does Rebekah Murrell as the glass girl exist or not? Is she an invention by the others to project their frustrations upon? Yet the others are also as abstract as she. It is …

WHO CARES?- review and feature on the hidden worlds of young carers in the UK

Who cares? Verity Healey A bold new play peels back the layers on the hidden worlds of young carers in the UK.
L-R Luke Grant, Lizzie Mounter and Jessica Temple. Credit: The Other Richard. All rights reserved. Who Cares, a new play by up and coming theatre company LUNG which ran to critical acclaim at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is co-produced with The Lowry, focuses on young people in Salford, Greater Manchester, who care for others but are largely ignored by government. A ‘young carer’ is defined as someone under the age of 18 - amounting to approximately 700,000 people in the UK.  Around one in 12 young people are expected to have to care for someone with a long-term condition at some point in their early lives. Many will miss, on average, 48 days of school a year, be subjected to bullying, and come from families who rely on food banks. Although the Children and Families Act of 2014 made it easier for young carers to get an assessment of their needs and introduced ‘whole f…

Participatory Theatre- Europe’s Game Changer

In 2009, at Germany’s Staatsschauspiel Dresden theatre, Miriam Tscholl pioneered “bürgerbühne,” or participatory theatre for citizens, a form of community outreach via artistic collaboration. Tscholl worked to give participatory theatre productions the same resources and scheduling as the playhouse’s main programming, and it became an integral part of the city’s theatrical landscape. Her approach has been adopted, adapted, and reinterpreted in theatres across Europe; a German theatre company, Munich Kammerspiele, for example, now includes such work in their main repertoire without distinguishing it from their other productions. Participatory theatre was the focus of Our Stage – 4th European Bürgerbühne Festival and the European Theatre Convention’s International Theatre Conference, which took place in Dresden, in Germany’s northeast, in May 2019 for just over a week. Attendees came from all over the European continent and South Africa to participate (ten countries in all)—presenting …