I am sitting in an empty auditorium looking out over the remnants of last nights opening show. It’s a black box theatre, it resembles every other. It has its own character, its interesting quirks, but like all theatres it still is clearly a theatre. Seats, stage, lights, speakers. A theatre. We could be anywhere in the world.
We have just opened our latest show, Fisk, in Aarhus’s Teater Katapult, Denmark. It’s very exciting to say that we have just opened our first international co-production. It marks a significant step up for the company, an increase in our ambition – delivering more administratively whilst pushing our artistic practice as well. But as significant as these outcomes are, it has set us thinking, is there more to an international co-production than meeting organisational goals? What is it that has made embarking on this process so particularly appealing?
In some ways we feel as if we’ve undertaken a piece of soft diplomacy, heading out and (hopefully) representing Scotland as a culturally forward thinking, challenging and innovative country. In exchange our creative team has been able to travel, see a part of the world and experience a whole new culture. But this process has been so much more than that, in a way that feels particularly pertinent in the UK’s current climate. As our country evaluates its role in the world it is important for art to be part of that debate. Not just in practice but in form.
An international co-production represents a desire and openness towards working together, a wish to learn from each other and push ourselves. It opens us up to different cultures, promoting the celebration of both diversity and universality. Theatre allows you to put yourself into someone else’s world. It’s important then that we can take theatre across cultures and communities. We can share different experiences and compare our outlooks on the world. Collaboration allows us to draw on different experiences, different styles of making work and different political climates. International co-productions allow us to create richer and deeper theatre, to find universal experiences even in the smallest of stories and most seemingly individual of experiences.
And now we have the exciting bit. We have come together, we have made a show – it’s not completely Scottish, it’s not completely Danish – it’s a story that’s a little bit of both. Let’s see what a Danish audience thinks. Let’s see what a Scottish audience thinks. Will there be more to unite than divide?