An Actor’s Life: Not so great, Great Britain
Ian Burns

February 23rd, 2019

This article is more than 4 years old.

Better to mess up before opening night (photo: That Theatre Company)

I write this on Valentine’s Day, the fourth anniversary of the senseless murder of Finn Nørgaard outside Krudttønden where we are about to perform a new show.

Many local people came to pay their respects, leaving flowers and lighting candles beside the plaque erected in his memory. I met some of them and was very moved by their stories.

This is what being a community is all about. Britain has a lot to learn. This hankering back for a Dunkirk spirit, although admirable, is not needed in 2019.

Disunited and in denial
Indeed what would have the Dunkirk survivors thought about the Tories’ latest plans to run channel ports without ships or ferries? Is this a new tactic designed to baffle all sane people?

The support of the UK’s transport secretary, Chris Grayling, for this Ramsgate balls-up is in the running for the most incompetent of all the Tory ideas meant to put us all at ease in the mess that is Brexit.

And that’s quite an achievement given the contenders, with Liam Fox right up there for a gold medal for rank madness and pathetic negotiating skills.

The Tories’ approach to this self-inflicted shit-show is a closed rank of denial about what is going to hit the disunited queendom.

Divisions run deep
Our choice to launch our 20th season – ‘Art’ (Feb 20-March 23; tickets via teaterbilletter.dk or 7020 2096; learn more at that-theatre.com), Yasmina Reza’s comedy about a man whose friendship is tested after he buys a piece of conceptual art – reminds me a little of the uneasiness many must feel in the company of British PM Theresa May right now.

Instead of collectively trying to find solutions with consensus politics, she stubbornly repeats her dull mantra “My way or the highway”. This is divisive and deep divisions are manifesting themselves on the backbenches of the House of Commons, within the government, and among friends and families.

It’s devastating for the economy and the country. How many jobs have already been lost? The disaster of a ‘no-deal’ is looming fast on March 29. I have not heard one single positive reason for leaving the EU – has anyone? If so, please share.

There’s a delusional notion that ‘not-so-great-Britain’ still has an empire that can deploy gunboat diplomacy to get what it wants. Those days are over, and it’s time to get over it.

Desperation daily
Is anyone else angry with the selfishness of the richest 1 percent hiding their money off-shore, the notion of selling off the NHS that is being deliberately under-funded and understaffed, the cruelty of Windrush, and the slowness of dealing with the Grenfell Fire survivors and the tackling of thousands of other badly fire-proofed blocks of flats?

Not to mention the austerity dogma that causes unnecessary suffering for hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable; cutting police, firefighter and emergency response units; closing libraries and community centres; zero hours contracts that boost employment figures; the madness and hatred towards anyone daring not to speak English in public; and industries threatening to leave our shores?

These are just some of the reasons why I’m worried about what’s going on in my homeland.


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.


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