I was introduced to the theatre community and to the great city of Copenhagen when I worked at The Betty Nansen Theatre in 2004 directing a piece of new work called “1001 nat NU” based on the stories of Scheherazade . The concept was based on the fact that 20% of the population of Denmark had recently voted to rid the country of people who had arrived in the country, seeking asylum, over recent years. ‘Denmark for the Danish’ was their cry. Henrik Hartmann, the producer at Betty Nansen, wanted to counter these thoughts with a piece of theatre that told stories from the people that the same 20% of the population seemed fearful of. “Let us hear the voices of the others”, he told me.
Henrik had come up with an idea to invite 11 writers from the Middle East with a brief to write short performance pieces based on the stories they would tell in order to survive in their present day situations. His notion was that ‘sometimes we tell stories to entertain, sometimes we tell stories to explain who we are and sometimes we tell stories to survive’.
We started with pre-rehearsal workshop working with dramaturg Kitte Wagner and a great team of 11 writers and performers to workshop ideas and to find a way to create a piece of theatre and few months later we rehearsed the piece and performed it. The response from audiences was very supportive and Henrik notion of listening to ‘the voice of the others’ started to grow.
Over the next few years Betty Nansen developed a stream of work looking at this issue and as it grew through successful productions, multi media education projects and community and participatory style work was developed.
Henrik and his team visited Contact Theatre in Manchester to see how that company worked with young people and as a result of that visit and their own experiences of their ‘education’ department range of in house productions and film and radio projects a new concept emerged. Aimed specifically at young people the project was an antidote to the growth of nationalist
C:NTACT is an independent organisation dedicated to ethnic, social, and cultural integration and education, based at the Betty Nansen Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Every year they launch a wide variety of stage, film, radio and journalistic productions. C:NTACT’s core objective is to provide a platform for living encounters between people with widely different backgrounds. Their principal task is to nurture and encourage the ability to communicate thoughts, dreams, ideas, and visions.
C:NTACT offers a wide variety of productions and workshops – primarily targeted at young people with different backgrounds. Through C:NTACT the young people team up with professional artists, teachers, and directors who assist them in creating and developing artistic products that are suited for a large audience.
See more about C:NTACT HERE