Camilla from London-based theatre company Cut The Cord tells us about their New Nordics Festival

To shine a light in a different direction today – away from the television shows, documentaries, music, and film – this time we take a look at an exciting event happening in London called the New Nordics Festival.

NEW NORDICS FESTIVAL is a 5-day festival in London between 12-16 October 2021, showcasing the best new Nordic plays from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

We spoke to the theatre company’s artistic director and producer Camilla Gürtler about the theatre and the festival:

NW: Tell us about Cut The Cord and your role with the theatre?

CG: I started Cut the Cord back in 2017. Cut the Cord is a theatre company based in London, but with networks around the world, particularly in the Nordic countries.

We focus on international skills exchange and cooperation through our projects, meaning we link artists in the Nordic countries with artists in the UK, and explore what happens in this meeting. We are mainly interested in new writing and work a lot with theatre in translation, new Nordic drama, and artist development.

Cut The Cord’s Camilla Gürtler

NW: You have a New Nordics Festival coming up! How did this concept come about?

CG: New Nordics Festival is the culmination of all the things we stand for and was born from a wish to create a wider awareness of the rich contemporary theatre happening in the Nordic countries.

New Nordic plays are rarely produced in the UK, and many emerging artists either don’t know they exist or don’t know that international exchanges like this are possible at the beginning of their careers. So instead of waiting for a theatre to start providing these opportunities to emerging artists, we decided to do it ourselves – to create a platform that both enables them to have these exchanges, and which promotes international theatre at the same time.

The Nordic cooperation is strong, so we were lucky in finding support for this early on from our Nordic funders, and especially the Nordic embassies in the UK. The Nordic countries have such a fantastic theatre scene, with contemporary plays that really have the pulse on the world we live in.

We think it’s time we showcase these in the UK and raise greater awareness of Nordic theatre and how UK artists and audiences can engage with it and benefit from the experience.

NW: What can we expect to see at the festival?

CG: The festival lasts a week, and we present a play from each of the Nordic countries, so audiences can expect to see a very diverse Nordic region represented. Each of the plays brings something unique from their country in their own way, so as a whole, the festival gives a glimpse of a lot of different cultures.

We have shows about climate change, fir trees, garages, loneliness, cows… and IKEA. The plays are funny, dark, and explosive, each giving a glimpse of the countries they come from.

The festival has both productions and staged readings, talks, and workshops, so there are many opportunities to engage with Nordic theatre and culture. Each play is directed by a UK-based director, so you also get to experience what happens in this cultural meeting and exchange.

All performances are also live-streamed and include a Q&A with the writer, so you can join us from wherever you are in the world!

NW: How is the language barrier approached with the shows?

CG: We work with theatre in translation, so all performances are in English. We are passionate about showcasing the vital roles of translators, and how they contribute to a more international offering on our stages.

Even though the plays are translated, you still feel their roots – and so, by working with theatre in translation, we keep our mission of making a festival that both showcases what the Nordics have to offer and celebrate the connection and collaboration with the UK.

NW: Where did you first discover your passion for all things Nordic?

CG: I am Danish myself, so the passion was there from the beginning for me. When Cut the Cord started, I felt there was little knowledge of contemporary Nordic plays in the UK. I found that there was a lot of interest once others were introduced to them, but it felt like there was a gap in who makes sure these plays and artists are promoted and accessible to artists in the UK. So, for me, it started there.

Then, as our activities have grown, our passion as a company for all things Nordic has grown too, particularly now that we have a network of so many incredible artists in the Nordic region, and their counterparts in the UK who want to work internationally, but need a platform to do so.  

NW: What other Nordic discoveries do you love and care to share?

CG: There are many! When we run our Nordic projects, we always share some behind-the-scenes or insights into the Nordic countries. Apart from the obvious – pastries, Nordic jumpers, and hygge – we’ve come across a few pearls along the way. One is how the Faroe Islands made sure they were included in Google Maps – by strapping cameras to sheep! I think that just shows incredible resilience and their sense of humour.

We are also keen followers of the sustainability initiatives happening in the arts, particularly with Sustainable Performing Arts NOW (Bæredygtig Scenekunst NU) who are working to ensure the performing arts sector incorporates green initiatives in how and why they make work.

Interview by Alex Minnis

The series starts from the 12th October and you can find out more on how to book your tickets by visiting the Cut The Cord website HERE and you can also follow them on Twitter @CutThe_Cord and Instagram at @CutThe_Cord

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