An Actor’s Life: Poetic Justice

It is time for politicians to swim with the tide not sink into the annals of history (Photo by GGIA) It is time for politicians to swim with the tide not sink into the annals of history (Photo by GGIA)
January 9th, 2016 7:00 pm| by Ian Burns
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Maybe like me, you’re probably thinking that 2015 went by in a flash! Time is not actually speeding up, it just feels like it. I’m told it’s a question of ratio. Namely, the shorter a year feels is related to your entire life as a whole.

Anyway, it’s good we’ve made it to see another year, and I hope you have had some quality time with your loved ones.

Reflecting badly
My romantic, naive vision of a ‘new’ year is an optimistic one. “Things can only get better,” I say to myself, but man’s continued inhumanity to man depresses me. There are so many places around the globe where chaos rules.


The way our leaders tell us how to cope with refugees from war-torn areas reflects on us all. It’s difficult to find a balance between security and empathy, but politicians should remember they are not ‘in power’ but ‘in office’.

Inger Beinov Støjberg, the immigration minister, thinks that taking jewellery from refugees is acceptable. Where is the outcry I ask myself? This tactic has not been good for Denmark’s global reputation, but does she care?

Imagining isn’t enough
Politicians have to be made to care. Doing such things in our name needs robust scrutiny, clarification and explanation. If we don’t demand this, then people like her will get more and more confident. Who knows what could be next?

We have to be vigilant, proactive and involved, otherwise the forces of darkness and fear inspired by the likes of the horrendous Donald Trump will be able to impose their short-sighted, racist and blinkered wills and dilute the immense potential we all have to do good.

George Lucas agrees with me and John Lennon, one of my personal heroes. The question is: where are all the voices of dissent in 2016 saying: “Give peace a chance!” Here’s one for a start: mine.

An example to us all
William Shakespeare, the inspiration for our next That Theatre production (Shakespeare Unplugged, Feb 17-March 19, that-theatre.com, teaterbilletter.dk), understood the human condition. His observations are universal and timeless.

Ben Jonson, a fellow writer and close friend, gave a heart-felt eulogy at his funeral. These lovely words later found their way into the introduction of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s works and are as true now as they were in 1616: “Soule of the Age! The applause! Delight! The wonder of our stage! He was not of an age but for all time.”

Remembered with pride
I love the fact that according to a recent poll carried out by the Guardian newspaper it’s not a general, politician or a bigoted billionaire newspaper owner who is the most revered or loved by Britons from the past 400 years. It’s a poet called William Shakespeare.

While Denmark’s most famous Dane over the same period is HC Andersen. In these shabby and increasingly nationalistic times both our countries can allow themselves to be a wee bit proud of this.

Present day politicians should bear this in mind and ponder on how history and future generations will judge them.

Ian Burns


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.