Two young volunteers, Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, have set up Good Chance Theatre in the heart of the Calais camp. Aptly named after the seemingly endless optimism that exudes from the camps residents, it has been reported that residents of the camp measure their luck for each day. Either they have “no chance” or a “good chance” of getting across the border on any given day. It would seem that despite being divided by a combination of history, geography, and language the plethora of nationalities—including Sudanese, Ethiopians, and Kuwaitis as well as many more—all share a love for the new addition to the camp.
As well as the theatre, an entire high street has sprung up in the middle of the camp—components to the street include mosques, churches, restaurants, shops and even a hairdressers.
Murphy and Robertson’s aim for the Good Chance Theatre is to create “a safe, warm and welcoming space for the people of Calais to express themselves and their situations within the ‘jungle’.” Running since the 29th of October, the theatre intends to stay for as long as the space is needed by the people situated there.
Backers for the Good Chance Theatre include the likes of Tony Award winner Stephen Daldry and British West End and Broadway theatre producer Sonia Friedman. Support is also given by the Young Vic and Royal Court. Despite the wealth of its sponsors, the theatre itself has been described to be a simple affair. Christopher Haydon writes, “a large geodesic dome with a wooden floor, decorated with paintings and drawings that have been made by the inhabitants of the camp.”
The theatre hosts a range of activities for the camp residents from karate classes, writing and acting workshops; and most recently, volleyball games. Performances are held on most nights and would have been created and rehearsed throughout the week. Their audiences are made up of a combination of the theatre’s regular members and curious newcomers who have encountered the dome for the first time.
A recent development for the theatre is the Shakespeare’s Globe—which took it’s world touring production of Hamlet to Calais’ refugee camp. The Globe to Globe tour aims to perform their production of Hamlet to every country in the world by the 23rd of April. Last year, the company performed for 200 Syrian refugees in the Zaatari camp in Jordan, near the Syrian border. Good Chance Theatre hosted Hamlet to the camp on the 3rd of February. The performance was staged in partnership with the Good Chance Theatre and the performance project was created in the camp by the creators, and playwrights, Joe Murphy and Joe Roberston of Good Chance Theatre.
The Good Chance Theatre relies solely on the help and support of its volunteers and is currently on the lookout for volunteers to help support the people of the Calais Jungle. However, differing slightly from most projects that are co-ordinated by volunteers, the donations of clothes, food, or other essential living items are not accepted. Instead, donations of particular items or musical instruments which will be used within their productions are always appreciated. Specific shout outs are usually posted on Facebook and Twitter.
They will be launching a volunteering page on their website shortly. To find out more about the cause please visit: http://goodchance.org.uk/