The Good Chance Theatre: Calais refugee camp theatre stages a double encore


Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy, founders of the Good Chance Theatre company in Calais. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardia

The refugee theatre in Calais that starred the likes of Jude Law and Benedict Cumberbatch and withstood the worst of the winter in northern France is to rise again, say its two founders.

Due to the unflagging “Dunkirk spirit” of playwrights Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, there are soon to be two Good Chance theatre tents, one planned down the coast in Dunkirk and another back in Calais, nearer to the shipping containers that now house 2,000 migrants.

Over six months the tent became famous as it welcomed visiting stars, including Law and Cumberbatch, and a succession of British theatre companies. But for most of that time it was a venue for those living in the Calais camp, known as the Jungle, watching each other sing, dance and tell stories. Good Chance is now a limited company and is awaiting charitable status.

“We knew it wasn’t the end as we took it down last weekend,” said Murphy. The dome tent came down when the French authorities cleared the Jungle, although the structure had been made legally exempt. There was little point in it remaining, however, without an audience.

“We have experienced nothing but enthusiasm and hope in France, despite all the need. It has been at once the worst time and the very best time,” said Robertson. “Suddenly, last week, we found we were surrounded by CRS [police], but until that point people were still coming in for workshops.”

The friends, both 25, are also planning to stage an exhibition in London this summer called Encampment. It will feature the original dome, still showing the ravages of its stay in the Jungle, with refugee artwork and writing. “It will become an artefact, with all its rips and spray paint. It is beautiful,” said Murphy.

“We are very confident, because it became a unique space,” said director Stephen Daldry, who will chair the trust. “It became a kind of town hall, a refuge and a neutral place. One that was relatively warm and, most importantly, safe.”

Continue reading the article here. (Original posted in The Guardian)