All the city's a stage, but will the public engage?
Has CPH STAGE, only in its second year, bitten off more than it can chew?
If you love your summers full of drama, then look no further than next week when the whole city becomes a stage.
The CPH STAGE theatre festival, which starts on June 11, will over the course of 12 days present 355 performances by Danish and international theatres and groups.
Most of the shows are in Danish, but more than 137 of the performances are accessible to non-Danish speakers (81 are in English, 44 are non-verbal and 12 have supertitles), compared to just 25 last year.
Lots of shows, no tourists
Ian Burns, a British actor living in Denmark who is appearing in the comedy ‘No!’ at Teatermuseet in Hofteatret every day of the festival, didn't expect there to be so many English productions.
“They're trying to become the Edinburgh Festival – in just one year,” he said.
With so many international acts, Burns fears there may not be enough English speakers in the country to fill the seats.
“I must say I’m surprised by the number of productions. Those three Japanese tourists are going to be very busy,” he said.
Although the summer tourist season starts in June, the majority of the English-speaking tourists tend to come in August due to the timing of their school holidays.
“I have a bit of a worry there is going to be empty seats,” said Burns.
I’m not sure about the timing – I would have preferred August when there are more Brits and Americans around.”
Eyes on the competition …
Morten Krogh, the organiser of CPH STAGE, was equally amazed so many international theatres would join. He listed three reasons for holding the festival in June.
“The festival had to be at the end of the theatre season, and we timed it so it wouldn't coincide with other theatre festivals in Europe,” he explained.
“There's also a lot of other festivals in the city during the summer, and although we don’t see them as competition, we thought about them when we chose the time. This year, the festival ends with the Reumert award ceremony, for which the performances ‘Boys don’t cry’, ‘Casper Christensen komplekset’ and ‘All my dreams come true’ are all nominated.”
But not the tourists
While CPH STAGE intends to become an international theatre festival, tourism is not yet the main focus.
"We didn’t specifically aim the festival at tourists, because we don't yet consider it a tourist magnet,” continued Krogh.
“In the future, we hope there will be more tourists at the festival and that's why we work hard to promote our performances for non-Danish speakers. But we didn’t time the festival to attract tourists. We will have to see what happens.”
In the meantime, Burns is eager to present an international audience with a Danish comedy. It’s an area of Scandinavian culture that is not as well-known abroad as the Michelin restaurants and dark murder mysteries.
“I’m not panicking. I’m hoping that those tourists who are here in June will show up for the shows,” he said.
“I also hope those indigenous English speakers who are already here may support it. I encourage them all to come: the Brits, the Irish, the Scots … even the bloody Americans!”