Forget the awards as the CTC’s appearance itself was no mean feat

Drama group’s first entry for 13 years in amateur theatre’s equivalent of eurovision underlines how far it has come lately

Ending a 13-year hiatus, the Copenhagen Theatre Circle (CTC) last month took ‘Alarms’ by Michael Frayn to the Festival of European Anglophone Theatrical Societies (FEATS) in The Hague. 


And while the amateur theatre group didn’t return with any of the main prizes, it provided further evidence of a resurgence that has seen the CTC go from strength to strength in recent years. Already this year, its members have been actively involved in four productions – an amazing accomplishment considering that from 2004 until 2009, the CTC averaged only one per year. 


In January, it staged a pantomime for the second year running: a ten-performance run of ‘Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp’. And then in April, it staged ten performances of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.


And finally, and definitely not least but last, the CTC on Sunday June 9 will present the second and final performance of its radio play, ‘12 Angry Men’ (see for details). 


“Never in its history has the society been more talented, more adventurous or more ambitious than it is now,” the theatre group’s obviously proud chair, Frank Theakston, recently wrote in his Copenhagen Post column. 


According to Theakston, the CTC’s recent success can be partly attributed to the increasing number of internationals living in Denmark. “The talent reflects an increasingly cosmopolitan Copenhagen. As an example, the cast of nine in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ represented no fewer than seven nationalities,” he added. 


The cast of ‘Alarms’ was slightly smaller, but once again a truly international one. Directed by Debbie Taylor, the CTC competed against eleven other English-speaking amateur theatrical groups resident in mainland Europe. Actors taking part in the festival perform either published plays or original scripts. 


The competing teams have only ten minutes to place their set and only five minutes to remove it afterwards, leaving a bare stage for the next group. They have just two hours’ practice during the day of their performance, which includes all the technical preparation necessary for the production. A time limit for the performance is imposed (minimum 25, maximum 50 minutes), and the performances take place under the critical eye of an invited professional adjudicator who is a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators in the UK. 


“The adjudicator’s duty is to award points for each performance and make constructive criticism afterwards, which is a little nerve-wracking!” explained CTC member Gaby Neubert-Luckner, who played the role of Nancy, a “somewhat ditzy wife”, in what is a fast-paced farcical comedy with lots of exits and entrances. 


“It’s a great way to learn though, as you get to hear about the other performances as well, so you can see what the adjunticator is looking for and the qualities being assesed.”


Although the CTC didn’t win any prizes this year, it was nominated for a discretionary award for the sound effects designed by Steve Taylor. The adjudicator acknowledged the incredible amount of work put in by Taylor, which included 59 sound cues in a 25-minute play. 


“The chance to perform in a professional theatre and the opportunity to meet people from other amateur dramatic societies were definite highlights for me and the group,” continued Neubert-Luckner. “I think as a group we learned so much − from each other and from the feedback we received from the adjudicator.”


Co-star Josh Shires, who played the role of Nancy’s husband Nicholas, and who Copenhagen might remember well as the Genie in ‘Aladdin’, was equally enthused about the experience.  “Loved it!” he said. “Fantastic experience to perform on such a wonderful stage and being immersed in theatre for four days was a great learning opportunity!”


Taylor, the director, was in no doubt that the FEATS experience had been a success and further proof of the CTC’s resurgence.  “I am proud to have brought this production to FEATS and think we have proven that the CTC are back in the FEATS fold and a force to be reckoned with!” she said. 

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