Writing a preview of a theatre festival is not dissimilar to trying to understand a piece of performance dance or art.
Assessing the work as a whole does not always yield dividends, but analysing parts of it does. This can often require the writer/viewer to reappraise everything they thought they knew. In a word: infuriating.
Identifying underlying themes is mostly futile. Just when you thought you had an understanding of the essence, an element comes along that smashes your conceptions to smithereens.
Often there is no method to the order. Components come and go, and sometimes they come back again – establishing any kind of continuity is best avoided.
And afterwards it’s open to interpretation whether it has been a success. Limited attention does not measure anything – the creator will know in their heart whether they have been true to themselves, or lowered their ideals for the sake of conformity.
If you had difficulty following that logic, you’re probably not the only one, and for many the world of performance dance and art is one that will remain forever alien.
But Copenhagen Stage is past caring. Now, in the seventh edition since its launch in 2013, the theatre festival is boldly taking the shackles off its participants and encouraging them to go in the direction their artistic expression takes them.
The performances won’t be to everyone’s tastes – although there are some notable exceptions that are universally accessible – but there are no longer any half-measures.
Theatre groups from Denmark and overseas are helping Copenhagen Stage to realise its potential as northern Europe’s most important fringe theatre festival.
If there is a theme this year it is that expression should know no boundaries: neither across borders nor spanning religious difference, nor of our collective imaginations.
Back to the bare bones
Last year it was easy to nail what Copenhagen Stage was trying to achieve in regard to its foreign audiences – an important stepping stone on its journey to establishing itself internationally.
Danish theatre is often elusive to those who have not mastered the language, and by translating domestic offerings, or offering them with subtitles, the festival was able to share the very best this country has to offer.
But sometimes this comes at the cost of authenticity – losing the nuances of the local language, taking performers out of their comfort zone and compromising their integrity. Significantly this year, there are no subtitles.
In effect, Copenhagen Stage has been deconstructed – and for the greater good. Nothing is watered down; like the Corpus and Roskilde collaboration (see page 9), it is raw.
It’s time to respect original work, performed as it was intended.
Plenty of heavyweights
This supplement contains 43 listings of productions that are either performed in English or require no knowledge of any language to enjoy.
Starting on page 4, we present the six shows especially selected for the international program. Each received 20,000 kroner in funding to help realise their dream. All six are the work of widely renowned and upcoming Danish artists who work internationally.
‘Dark Noon’ (also page 4) is one of the few accessible works to find its way into the festival’s main highlights selection. Along with Oh Baby … It’s Cole (page 11) and The Real Raw (page 10), it’s a musical performance on a grand-scale, and all three of the runs are longer than the festival’s duration.
Not to be outdone, the drama productions have a few heavyweights – not least from Mr Shakespeare himself: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (page 5) and Macbeth (page 9).
The former will be staged outside at Ofelia Plads and is free to attend. Performed before a sunset and in the twilight of an early summer’s evening, it’s a setting that even the Bard would have approved of.
May 23-25, 28-31 & June 1, weekdays 20:00, weekends 16:00; Revolver på Republique, Øster Fælled Torv 34, Cph Ø; 195kr; osterbroteater.dk
The black hand holding a white revolver on the promo suggests this must be the version in which Gary Cooper gets gunned down by Django Unchained – or the new sheriff in ‘Blazing Saddles’.
Fix&Foxy, the producer of this staging, presented ‘A Doll’s House’ at last year’s CPH STAGE – a rare chance to see Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play in a real home – and now they’ve swapped suburbia for the savannah: an African landscape of red clay and a primitive village.
Aptly, on a stage called Revolver, director and writer Tue Biering is taking charge of an ensemble of South African performers, who will play out an African western to mirror our romanticised ideas of savage Africa.
In their own words: “Neither black nor white lives matter”.
The Ultimate Battle
May 27-28, Mon 20:00 & Tue 18:00; Pakhus 11, Dampfærgevej 2, Cph Ø; 150kr; noorahannula.com
Noora Hannula throws herself into a grotesque, wild but hilarious showdown with her virtual girlfriend Soma. Don’t miss this modern dance/3D animation hybrid incorporating martial arts and erotic clichés.
Human in Balance
May 27-29, Mon & Wed 20:00, Tue 14:00; Teater V i Prøvehallen, Porcelænstorvet 4, Valby; 175kr; dongnu.dk
This is a poetic, physical and musical tale that reminds us that we cannot move without our behaviour affecting others. Contemporary dance, performance theatre and new circus merge for this spectacle.
May 27-29, 16:00; Københavns Rådhus, Rådhupladsen 1, Cph V; sistershope.dk
Imagine if sensuality, not sustainability, ruled the roost. In Sisters Hope’s immersive performance-installation at City Hall, visitors explore the possibilities of a future society governed by poetic values.
The Art of Dying
May 27-28, Mon 18:00, Tue 20:00; Nørrebro Teater, Ravnsborggade 3, Cph N; 185kr; paolonani.com
A sad fact: the one thing sadder than the tears of a clown is the death of one. However much they laugh, they struggle, they endure, they sob – nobody cries or dies quite like a crown does … in silence.
Post No Bills
May 27-29, Mon 20:00, Tue & Wed 19:30; Dansekapellet, Bispebjerg Torv 1, Cph NV; 175kr; kittjohnson.dk
Impressive audio and visuals reminiscent of Alien – think bodily convulsions and hands attacking faces – all performed by a man who looks like he’s about to storm the Iranian Embassy. After all, who would post bills to them?
An Eve and An Adam
May 26-28, Sun & Mon 20:00, Tue 16:00; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 95kr; granhoj.dk
Imagine you went shopping in the nude. On social media, this would be art, but in reality you’d be arrested. Narcissism is rife in the fitness centres, but we have become afraid of our own bodies. This performance, unsurprisingly, contains nudity.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
May 27-31, 20:00 all nights bar Wed 18:00; Ofelia Plads, Kvæsthusbroen, Cph K; no tickets nor reservations; ofeliaplads.dk
A large cast featuring That Theatre regulars Rasmus Emil Mortensen, Benjamin Stender and Ian Burns will be staging a two-hour production of Shakespeare’s most endearing comedy in the harbour setting of Ofelia Plads.
Inhabiting a large area, attendance is free, so this is the perfect opportunity to gather friends and family and enjoy a night of culture next to the water.
Director Thomas Magnussen has made a few cuts to shorten the running time, and most of the actors are taking on multiple parts to share the workload.
The play within a play, for example, will be performed to just two actors, playing Theseus and Hippolyta, who will also portray Oberon and Titania.
Jefferson Bond (The Goat), Linda Elvira (Shakespeare’s Women) and Kevin Kiernan-Molloy (Mairead) lend able support.
Mrs Phink’s House
May 23-26, 30-31 & June 1, 18:00, ends June 8; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 510kr; shiso-studio.com
Saltwater is on the menu – and you know what they say about pouring it onto wounds. Humanity’s salvation lies in plants, and Denmark’s coastline and submarine flora has never been so relevant to a future you can taste thanks to Mrs Phink’s food artists and chefs.
May 24-28, every 15 mins from 16:00-19:00; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 95kr; cblanche.dk
Lose your phone at the door and step into a space in which time stands still. Teaterøen’s loft has been converted into an immersive performance-installation where stories, scents, sounds and splendour will sparkle our curiosity, inviting us to wonder at the world we live in.
May 25-26, Sat & Sun 16:00, Sat 20:00; Commedia School Studio, Strandlodsvej 69, Cph S; 90kr; commediaschool.com
The only certainty is that with each choice comes loss, confide the narrators of this story, an actress and accordionist searching for life’s answers, who take us through a series of encounters with sorcerers, witches and legions of otherworldly beings.
Hidden Number – Special Edition
May 26-29; 17:00 all days bar Tue, eight performances in total; Carlsberg Museum, Valby Langgade 1, Valby; 510kr
It’s role-playing, but in a concrete jungle without costumes. Reinvent yourselves as existential detectives and urban explorers in this immersive 2018 Reumert Award winner as you visit secret sites around the city, following instructions sent via your phone.
May 27-29, three performances per evening between 18:00 & 21:00; Nytorv, Nytorv 1, Cph K; 35kr; teaterbilletter.dk
Out damned spot and stand under the spotlight, as we have some serious questions for you. Follow its journey out of the darkness and manifestation in the light, on your sheets, clothing and body, and in your brain and DNA. Remember: we all have a spot!
Voice of the Audience in the Cinema
May 27-28 & 31, 10:00, 12:00 & 14:00; Forsøgsstationen, Sønder Boulevard 81, Cph V; sold out
This year’s most popular show is on the silver screen. Or is it? Billed as screenings of interactive audience performances in Denmark and Italy, surely they won’t be able to resist the temptation to turn the camera on your good selves. All the world’s a stage, Hamlet!
A Mouthful of Birds
May 30-31 & June 1, 19:30; Basement Kbh, Enghavevej 42, Cph V; 110kr
As That Theatre’s 2018 production of ‘A Number’ demonstrated, Caryl Churchill is one of this era’s most important playwrights.
She took one of society’s most loaded issues, human cloning, to produce a compelling psychological drama that cut to the bones of the matter.
The title of this play, which she co-wrote with anthropologist David Lan, sounds like a rather bony swallow.
Despite its Ancient Greece setting, its seven vignettes – dealing with issues such as infanticide, bestiality, voodoo, transgenderism and alcoholism – offer a disturbing perspective on mental illness and sexuality that resonates strongly with society today.
It’s all the more impressive given that the play was written in 1984. George Orwell would be proud.
War’s Unwomanly Face
May 27-29, 20:00; Italian Culture Institute, Gjørlingsvej 11, Hellerup; tickets at door
The stage adaptation of Svetlana Aleksievitch’s novel, which questions why war heroines tend to be unsung footnotes in history, has enjoyed great success in Brazil. At the helm is Marcello Bosschar, a familiar name on the theatre scene who now resides in Rio.
May 23-24, 18:00; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 95kr; onewomanact.dk
Behind the curtain and in the dressing room of Amanda, a go-go dancer in Los Angeles, the dreams of Hollywood stardom lie shattered on the floor. But fear not, as this story of survival – a one-person, acrobatic, rock ‘n’ roll ballet – is ultimately an uplifting tale.
May 24-25, 21:00; Riddersalen, Allégade 7, Frederiksberg; 305kr
The era is more Titanic than HMS Pinafore aboard the S.O.S.iety, a theatre-cabaret performance incorporating swing music and new circus. But as hard as it might be to emulate the Zirkus dancers and acrobats, the message is the same: we are all in the same boat.
May 28-29, 20:00; Husets Teater, Halmtorvet 9, Cph V; 90-210k
Inspired by the Sylvester Stallone film, Morten Burian narrates and then acts in this politically-charged monologue about how modern Denmark has trampled on the underdog. Served by powerful imagery, this Reumert Award winner is hard to forget.
May 25, 20:00; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 95kr
Something heavenly is happening in Havana, but a young man speaking the poetry of the Gods is the least of it. A snowstorm in a heatwave, a girl who can fly and the delivery of a long-lost parcel bring Roland Schimmelpfennig’s fantasy to life.
May 30-31, 19:00; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 95kr
Put on your bathing suit and join Franca and Frank, a musical duo in search of spiritual purification. This journey around Teaterøen ends with a musical sauna experience, or does it? Clear your calendar for a climax at Bådteatret a couple of days later.
Never Look Back
May 31, 19:00; Lokale, Griffenfeldsgade 27, Cph N; no tickets or reservations
It didn’t work out for Lot’s wife, but with Berlin-based performance art aficionados Anja Ibsch and Lan Hungh on stage, this is a meeting of true individuals that will make the audience reassess everything they thought they knew about the genre.
May 31, 18:00; Korsgade 12-14 st, Cph N; 110kr
In this interactive, provocative and intimate piece of performance art, the audience are challenged to question the difference between sex work and prostitution. Enter this intimate space and you may emerge enlightened.
Chronicle of Light Year
May 27-29, Mon 17:00, Tue 21:00, Wed 17:00; Pakhus 11, Dampfærgevej 2, Cph Ø; 80kr
Taiwanese new media artist Chou Tung-Yen harnesses his amazing 4D Box Hologram to create a majestic and immersive scenography for the peripatetic story of two time-travellers and their intimate memories light-years away.
May 27-28, Mon 18:00, Tue 19:00; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 95kr
Our CPH POST reviewer recommends this “urgent, agile, savage and taboo-riddled version” of Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy. Rendered by just two performers, Teaterøen founders Peter Kirk and Tilde Knudsen, it is a remarkable feat of ingenuity.
We Open Our Mouths
May 27-28, Mon 20:00, Tue 11:00 & 15:00; Warehouse9, Halmtorvet 11, Cph V; 160kr
Anika Kristensen Barkan sets a showdown with time itself. It’s time to shake off the indifference in a world bombarded with doomsday scenarios and regain the spirit of childhood and unshakable belief that we can change the world together.
May 28-29, 16:00; Zangenbergs Teater, Pilestræde 55A, Cph K; 135kr
This is ‘The Matrix’ with honeybees. Hailed as “hilariously silly” by Deadline News, this is a journey of discovery we can all relate to – even if it is about a chosen drone on a mission to save the hive at a risk of being radicalised.
Forgetting … Remembering
May 28-30; Tue & Wed 18:00, Thu 16:00; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 95kr
Performers Melanie Thompson and Bjarne Sandborg explore the concept of remembrance as a catalyst for discovery and recognition of contemporary issues. The result is two very different expressions, but one compelling performance.
May 28-29, 20:00; Teatret Zeppelin, Valdemarsgade 15, Cph V; 135kr
Inspired by real events and ‘The Fishermen’, a 1928 novel by Hans Kirk, the experience of a young girl trying to cope with the death of her father, and his subsequent damnation by the local priest, raises existential questions that society does its best to avoid.
MUSIC & DANCE:
The Real Raw
May 23-25; Corpus, A-salen, Tordenskjoldsgade 10, Cph K; 200kr; kglteater.dk
Rock and ballet in their rawest forms aren’t too dissimilar. Just watch Mick Jagger in his prime, or for that matter Rudolf Nureyev, an undisputed rock star in tights that Alice Cooper would have killed for.
And now the all-girl Danish rock trio Baby in Vain and five members of the Royall Ballet dance troupe Corpus are putting the theory to the test with an ambitious collaboration that is heading to this year’s Roskilde Festival.
Before it gets there, grab a sneak preview as celebration, imagination and emotion come together in this deconstruction of a live concert.
Can you dance to noise/can you rock out to dance? Of course you can, all eight performers reply in unison.
Oh Baby … It’s Cole
May 23-25, 27-29 & 31 & June 1, weekdays 19:30, weekends 15:00; Krudttønden, Serridslevvej 2, Cph Ø; 185kr; londontoast.dk
“You don’t throw the word ‘genius’ around loosely, but … ” said Bob Hope of Cole Porter, who wrote more than 1,200 songs for the stage and screen, including classics such as ‘Anything Goes’, ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re the Top’ and ‘Let’s Do it’.
Vivienne McKee, the creator of the Crazy Christmas Cabaret, is a life-long fan of Porter – not just his music but the man himself.
“He could have wasted his life in indulgent pursuits and left no mark at all,” she recently told CPH POST.
“But instead he chose to work hard and become the musical genius he is now acknowledged to be.”
In this new show, McKee is taking us back to the culturally rich inter-war period to celebrate an artist who became the toast of society.
Just Blazin’ Old School
May 23, 19:00; Brønshøj Skole, Klintholmvej 5, Brønshøj; no tickets/reservations
Part of the aim is to provide teachers with inspiration for the classroom. But Uppercut Danseteater’s show about friendship, dreams and defeat offers so much more, combining funky urban dance and more traditional elements. It’s the talk of the playground.
May 23-25, Thu 19:00, Fri 21:00 & Sat 15:00; Folketeatret, Nørregade 39, Cph K; 150kr
At first glance, the assembly team to make this IKEA cupboard looks too large. But this is less about the body, and more about exploring the gaps found in any sculptural work. The team from the Spanish award-winning theatre Danza Mobile is perfectly in proportion.
May 23-25, Thu 21:00, Fri 19:00 & Sat 13:00; Folketeatret, Nørregade 39, Cph K; 150kr
To underline its casting as the dark horse of this festival, this solo work from Danza Mobile examines what makes every one of us unique as individuals. The last time a horse’s head had this much impact was in ‘The Godfather’.
May 24, 19:30; Dansekapellet, Bispebjerg Torv 1, Cph NV; 175kr
This powerful urban dance piece hails France’s forgotten man, the miner who stoked the fires of the country’s economy in the post-war era, and through its title (black faces) questions the racism that has ever since been directed at immigrants from north Africa.
Raiders of the Grey Gold
May 25, 19:30; Aveny-T, Frederiksberg Allé 102, Frederiksberg; 200-270kr
Life is fleeting, we are reminded as the dancers throw themselves into an acrobatic quest for ‘the grey gold’ – a quest to find the beauty of the decay of time. This tragi-comedy includes daredevil antics, musical poetry and humorous self-realisation.
May 27 & 29, Mon 22:15 & Wed 14:00; Pakhus 11, Dampfærgevej 2, Cph Ø; 80kr
Danish duo Silicium (composer and performer Bjørn Svin and visual artist Carl Emil Carlsen) present a surreal music experience in which throbbing organic rhythms blend with biologically-inspired simulations.
Extended Falls to Humanity
May 29, 18:00; Københavns Rådhus, Rådhupladsen 1, Cph V
Tapping into the hopes and dreams of citizens, Recoil is cornering the market for performance dance perfectly suited to town hall locales. Following April visits to Ringkøbing and Helsingør, they arrive in the capital to explore its essence: the fabric of our lives.
The Actor and the Übermarionette
May 31, 17:00; Forsøgsstationen, Sønder Boulevard 81, Cph V; free adm, bookings required
Puppeteers Bjarne Kalhøj and Rolf Søborg Hansen join performers Lotte Faarup and Øyvind Kirchhoff for an immersive performance that places the audience behind the scenes, at the end of the strings and in the shoes of the performers.
May 28-29, 17:00; Dansekapellet, Bispebjerg Torv 1, Cph NV; 160kr
Tackling society’s expectations of gender and sexuality, Black Box Theatre is true to its name. Well, almost, as this box – from which four individuals, alone but united at the same time, embark on a journey of discovery – is white.
May 28-29, 18:00; Dansekapellet, Bispebjerg Torv 1, Cph NV; 145kr
Next Zone presents a raw and innovative mix of urban dance and new dance with elements of butoh and new circus. While ’Immortality’ explores extreme versions of eternal life, Global Souls assesses humankind’s limitless adaptability.
May 29, 19:00; Teaterøen, William Wains Gade 11, Cph K; 95kr
Is life an eternal struggle to return to the Garden of Eden? Co-produced by De Nieuwe Oost and SHiFFT, this sci-fi re-imagination of Genesis explores why conflicted humankind will never be able to make it back to paradise.
May 28-29, Tue 18:00 & Wed 14:00; Union, Nørre Allé 7, Cph N; 170kr
Loosely inspired by HC Andersen’s fairy-tale ‘The Ugly Duckling’, Korean traditional music combines with Danish opera and folk music to present a physically interactive tale that examines why humans deny one another a better life with regularity.