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An Actor’s Life: Getting ready for 'God of Carnage'

A resident here since 1990, Ian Burns is the artistic director at That Theatre Company and very possibly Copenhagen’s best known English language actor thanks to roles as diverse as Casanova, Shakespeare and Tony Hancock.

January 11, 2014

by Ian Burns

Dear Reader,

What a cruel way to start the year by asking our children to return to school on January 2 at the cruel time of 8:15am. None of these children have probably been to bed before 11pm for two weeks over the frenzied present-giving glut otherwise known as Christmas. (Mine didn’t.)

There are going to be some tetchy, short-tempered people out there for the next few days at least. Pity the teachers who have to deliver their younger children to the vuggestuer or børnehaver before they trudge off to school in the dark. Wouldn’t it be more humane to start school at 9.15 – especially in the winter? Nothing opens in Denmark before 10 anyway, so what’s the rush?

I suspect it’s got something to do with the time when Denmark was divided into the extremely rich and the peasants. You know, the ‘go to bed early and get up early’ train of thought – a way of keeping us in our place.
Once I get my breath back, I personally have at least three exciting theatre projects to look forward to.

First off, That Theatre Company is about to embark on its 29th production in 17 years on January 15. A director called Harry Burton is coming from London to work with us. He learned his trade under the wing of one of Britain’s best ever wordsmiths, namely one Harold Pinter, and we are really looking forward to getting to grips with this play with him at the helm.  

‘God of Carnage’ by Yasmina Reza (at Krudttønden from February 19 until March 22) is one of the best and most vicious of modern comedies. There was a film made last year by Roman Polanski, but the stage version, I promise you, is much sharper. This will be a truly international collaboration, as it is written by a French woman of Tunisian origin, directed by a Brit, with two Danes, a German actress and yours truly in the cast. Find out more at www.that-theatre.com, or read on to find out why Burton is joining us to make this play.

“I really love that our couples are so multi-national, it will just add to the fun,” he explained.

“The reason I want to do this play is its wonderful theatrical power. Everything I care for in theatre and performance is about (appropriate) theatricality and high stakes. I want audience members to have one of the great nights of their lives.

“The story itself needs no explaining. The marriages and relationships are where the fun starts, and we will explore those fully in rehearsal. But I tend to direct very ‘straight’. I’m not too interested in improvising, at least not when the text is as rich and as good as this one. My main objective is to realise the text and, in doing so, to thrill and delight the audience.”

Winner of both the Tony and Laurence Olivier Award for best play, ‘God of Carnage’ is a fast-paced, four-way prize-fight of name-calling, tantrums and tears – a comedic satire that has been described as a “comedy of manners … without the manners”. Hopefully you’ll come in and see it.

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