Gate Theatre announces two UK premieres from leading Danish artists


Gate Theatre present:

  • The UK premiere of Fix&Foxy ‘s LAND WITHOUT DREAMS
  • Experimental Performance Artist Anika Barkan’s new piece WE OPEN OUR MOUTH – AND LISTEN

As part of the Gate’s 40th Anniversary season, Artistic Director Ellen McDougall is continuing the venue’s renowned reputation for championing European Theatre with rare opportunity to see the best of Danish theatre in a mini-showcase.

Two major shows will be making their UK premieres at the West London venue this Autumn; multi award-winning Fix&Foxy’s Land Without Dreams and at Christmas acclaimed performance artist Anika Barkan’s We Open Our Mouth – and Listen.

In recent years Denmark has become recognised for producing cutting edge drama on both film and television with the success of Scandi-Noir dramas such as Borgen and The Killing, as well as acclaimed storytelling in genre literature.  In this showcase of work, the Gate offers a unique glimpse into Scandinavian contemporary theatre and performance, which is at once provocative, challenging, mischievous and funny but overall, intellectually thrilling.

European work is a rarity on British stages but the Gate has led the vanguard by including international work from around the world as part of its core mission.  As a theatre, it has always been synonymous with radical performance – consistently producing uncompromising, eclectic and surprising new work- and this 40th anniversary season celebrates this tradition which just opened with Kirsty Housley’s remarkable and critically acclaimed Mephisto [A Rhapsody].

Artistic Director Ellen McDougall said ‘One of the most thrilling aspects of running the Gate is being able to bring cutting edge international theatre-makers to make work for our intimate space, and to introduce them to a London audience. I am absolutely thrilled to be presenting the work of Tue Biering and Lise Lauenblad of Danish theatre company Fix&Foxy.  Fix&Foxy’s work spans popular culture (past productions include adaptations of Friends and Pretty Woman) with a playful and rigorous examination of social and political questions. Land without Dreams is a joyful investigation of how we think about the future.  Following that, I’m delighted to be able to invite Anika Barkan, another Danish artist with their show, We Open Our Mouth – And Listen as a Gate Guest this December. This gig-theatre show about solidarity and togetherness is a heart-warming piece that will provide an edgy alternative to the traditional Christmas show

The Gate Theatre, in association with Fix&Foxy presents

Land Without Dreams

Created by Fix&Foxy

Directed and Written by Tue Biering
Translated by Sophie H Smith

Director (London) Lise Lauenblad

Sound Designer Janus Jensen

Thursday 14 November to Saturday 7 December


This is a play about the future (and climate change. Not insomnia).

A woman walks on to the stage. She says she is from the future. She says that we have stopped dreaming. She says we can change everything. She says that she can help end all our dystopian nightmares. 

But we know plays don’t change the world. Right?

Directed by Lise Lauenblad in London, with originating director and writer Tue Biering, and performed by Temi Wilkey (The High Table and co-founder of PECS – The Drag King Collective), Land Without Dreams is a hopeful, funny and courageous new show which challenges us to think about ourselves, our possibilities– and especially our future.

Fix&Foxy is a multi-award-winning experimental theatre company based in Copenhagen which develops performances and works collectively with artists of all genres, and people of many backgrounds, to deliver original experiences in and outside of conventional performing arts spaces.

Lead by Tue Biering and Jeppe Kristensen, who innovate with pop culture, blockbusters, media and to make playful and poetic theatre that deals with modern societal taboos. Recent work includes a reimagining of the cult TV series Twin Peaks performed in eight cars around the remote Odsherred peninsula of Denmarkand Pretty Woman, a staged version of the Hollywood movie, starring real life prostitutes.   The company last performed in London as part of Theatre of Europe with a radical version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House staged in different people’s homes around London.

A.Barkan Production in association with the Gate Theatre presents

We Open Our Mouth – And Listen (An intimate performance concert)

Written and Performed By Anika Barkan

Directed and Choreographed by Cille Lansade

Composer and Live Music by Mika Forsling

Tuesday 17 to Saturday 21 December at 7.30pm

Anika Barkan’s We Open Our Mouth – and Listen is a meditation on the complexities of human relationships, how we live together and what solidarity means in the modern age.

In an attempt to regain the spirit of childhood and unshakable belief that we can change the world together, Anika Kristensen Barkan decides to write her own utopian manifesto.

In a raw, playful and heart-warming performance which is part-gig, part-theatre performance, the show examines with gentle humour and optimism what it takes to reawaken our connection to the world.  With live music from Mika Forsling, the performance raises questions about apathy, individualism, community and whether we still have something to fight for – together.

Anika Barkan is a Danish performancemaker, with more than 25 years of experience. She has lived and worked in Japan, New York, South Africa and Palestine, and is now based in Copenhagen. Among others she has studied/worked with Min Tanaka at Body Weather Farm in Japan, Anna Halprin, the SITI Company/Ann Bogart, the Woostergroup in the US and Sibikwa Art Center in Johannesburg/South Africa. She is the co-founded of CoreAct, an innovative inter-disciplinary performance/art ensemble that focuses on social issues with global prospective. She also works as a teacher and facilitator.


Behold: Paines Plough 

Paines Plough are one of theatre’s secret weapons. The touring new writing company has  and are continuing their extremely brilliant partnership with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Gate Theatre in fostering talent by staging Hush by Alison Carr.

For the past three years, they have supported emerging writers has penned a short play for the graduating class of the college which is then staged in Cardiff and London for a short run. Previous playwrights who have taken part in the partnership with Paines Plough, RWCMD and Gate Theatre are Elinor Cook and Brad Birch who are both debuting full length new plays at Paines Plough Roundabout later this year.

I caught up with Hush writer Alison Carr and Paines Plough’s Artistic Director James Grieve to chat about new writing, the amazing new season, mainstream criticism and more.

Basically, it’s a really good chat.

Alison Carr

Alison Carr

Hi Alison, Paines Plough have a solid reputation for nurturing young theatre talent – how does it feel to be part of that?
It’s great. I first worked with Paines Plough about seven years ago when I took part in Come To Where I’m From at Live Theatre in Newcastle. I met James and George; I really liked the company and what they were doing. I wanted to be part of it. We’ve kept in touch and when I got the call to write their co-commission with RWCMD I was thrilled. And a bit daunted. A cast of eight, you say?! But they’ve been really supportive and encouraging throughout the process and I’m really proud of the play and excited for people to see it.

Last year you completed The Traverse Fifty – a 6-month attachment with Monkeywood Theatre. How helpful was that experience?
They’re actually two separate things. The Traverse Fifty was a year-long attachment with the Traverse that I was part of in 2013. It was incredible; I’d definitely say one of the most important experiences of my writing career so far. I was actually on the verge of packing-in writing when I entered to be part of it – it was a real make or break moment. The attachment with Manchester’s Monkeywood Theatre a couple of years ago was an opportunity to be supported over a 6-month draft process, culminating in a development day and a reading. It’s always good to have structure and support when you’re writing – I need deadlines and pressure – and then the chance to hear the play read by actors, work with a director, it’s all invaluable with a new work.

What is your play ‘Hush’ about?
There’s a question. There are three strands to the story – a young woman who comes back to the town she grew up in and left under a cloud, her former best friend who has stayed in the town and tried to live a good life, and a young man who waits in limbo for the return of his missing brother. So, broadly speaking, it’s about coming home, leaving vs staying, guilt, identity and loss. There are some jokes in there too, though.


Are there any writing tips that you live by?
It’s not exactly a pithy quote, but ‘just get on with it’ would be the main one. The amount of time I waste on worrying and procrastination, whereas when I just sit down and do something I feel so much better. Also, small achievable goals are key and time off is allowed.


James Grieve

James Grieve

Congratulations on the wonderful Paines Plough season. What are you most excited about?
All of it. But particularly our Roundabout tour because I get to direct three outstanding new plays by Brad Birch, Elinor Cook and Sarah McDonald-Hughes with an ensemble of actors and go on tour in our beautiful pop-up theatre to lots of great places around the UK. We built Roundabout to give people amazing theatre experiences in places where there isn’t usually any theatre and it’s one of the things I’m most passionate about doing.


Paines Plough doesn’t just develop exciting new writing but also cultivate directors and mentor them in producing bigger work. Why is that important to the company?
Great new plays need directors who understand and genuinely love playwrights and possess the particular skills and sensitivity needed to deliver a world premiere production of a new play. Developing directors with those skills and forging relationships between directors and playwrights is very important to us. John Tiffany first worked with Gregory Burke, Enda Walsh and Jack Thorne at PP and those lasting relationships went on to make BLACK WATCH, ONCE and HARRY POTTER. Our former Artistic Directors now run The Royal Court and Birmingham Rep. Our Associate Companies are run by the leading Artistic Directors of the future. New talent is following in the footsteps of Ian Rickson and Katie Mitchell as PP assistant directors. Developing great new writing directors is essential to PP now and vital to the entire theatre industry in the future.

You are continuing your partnership with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Gate Theatre in nurturing young talent. What makes this partnership so special?
The NEW season is the visionary brainchild of RWCMD’s head of acting Dave Bond. With the college we co-commission and co-produce a new play written for and performed by the graduating actors as the final show of their training. It’s a fantastic challenge for playwrights to write big cast, ensemble plays with equally weighted roles. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a playwright and director to develop a relationship. It’s an incredible, unique opportunity for the student actors to bridge training and professional life by originating roles in a world premiere by an outstanding contemporary playwright, working with a professional director and performing in both Cardiff and London. It’s a completely brilliant project. And the plays sometimes go on to have a professional life – Ali McDowell’s POMONA and our own Luke Norris’ GROWTH began life as NEW productions.

With the Guardian cutting the extremely brilliant Lyn Gardner’s theatre blog – the big question is: will all mainstream critics end up on Theatre’s rocks, being eaten by crabs?
No, Lyn is far too vital to be marginalised. She will continue to be an essential read wherever she posts her reviews and analysis. I’m sad at the loss of the Guardian blog, but I’m equally excited by the emergence of new platforms and publications and the vitality of theatre writing and criticism online.