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Director Connie Treves: ‘Working with refugees at Good Chance Theatre in Paris has been brilliant’

Connie Treves. Photo: Justin Sutcliffe Connie Treves. Photo: Justin Sutcliffe

Connie Treves is currently volunteering in Paris with Good Chance Theatre, which works with refugees. She tells Giverny Masso how the experience has pushed the boundaries of her comfort zone…

What has it been like working with Good Chance?

Every three weeks is curated by a different artist; the first three weeks were curated by [actor and director] Elisa Giovannetti. We worked a lot with physical theatre, doing lots of lifts, which was brilliant. Every day there are highlights. They can be the smallest things, like when someone suddenly says, “I’m really good at Thai boxing” or when we were doing this amazing puppetry workshop.

How have you been involved?

I led some physical theatre workshops in my first week with another director, which was great. Since then I’ve been helping out with the programmed artists, which involved performing in The Hope Show last week, which was completely out of my comfort zone. The company working with us, La Llave Maestra, had a physical piece with a suitcase. I dropped the suitcase in the performance, but everyone is so friendly it was fine. It was nerve-wracking because I’m not really a performer, but I feel like everyone is putting themselves out of their comfort zone so it was a good thing for me to challenge myself to do that as well.

Beyond the Jungle: Good Chance refugee theatre pops up in Paris

How can this type of theatre help to build trust between people from different backgrounds?

The most amazing thing is when people come into the theatre with a bit of hesitation, not really sure what we are doing, and by the end have really got something from it, have performed, and have also given us something; we’ve learned from them and their skills. Theatre is so collaborative: we have to make together, and we have to use what anyone is bringing to that making process.

How did you become involved in theatre?

I grew up in a rural town in Dorset, where I did a lot of dance – though, in retrospect, it was more physical theatre. Then I went to London and worked with Battersea Arts Centre on their amazing Homegrown programme. I then went to uni, where I studied English and became involved in lots of theatre. When I left, I decided to pursue that further and started working with friends and continuing to train.

What has been a challenge for you in your career?

Having the confidence to say ‘I’m a theatre director’ when you’re not currently directing anything, or assistant-directing. I’m still within the first two years of having graduated, and you feel a bit of a fraud sometimes. I read about theatre, try to improve my practice and develop projects, but I also have so many other jobs to support me.

What other work have you done?

Workshops with young people, based on whatever project I’m working on. I also volunteer in a more administrative role with the Big House theatre company, which works with care leavers. The last thing I did was an adaptation of a novel about death row in America, called The Enchanted, in June 2017, working closely with the charity Reprieve. Now I’m working with a new writer on her first play. We are in the very early stages of developing it.

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