Good Chance Theatre in Calais dismantled despite exemption

The Good Chance Theatre was taken down on the morning of March 11. Photo: Good Chance Calais
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Good Chance Theatre in the Calais migrant camp has been dismantled after refugee shelters in the surrounding area were demolished ahead of schedule.

Last month the Southern part of the camp – dubbed the Jungle – was ordered to be cleared by a French court, though the tent-based Good Chance Theatre was exempted from demolition.

After the destruction of surrounding tents and shelters by French authorities, theatre organisers have decided to take down the venue – having claimed last week that the camp had become “a war zone”.

Founders Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson said that the space “cannot operate without its community”.

They continued: “Yesterday morning, the demolition line jumped to the end of the road that the theatre sits on, and the communities around the theatre were moved and taken apart.”

“By the afternoon, we were surrounded by the CRS [riot police]. It was a great shock, especially for those whose houses could not be moved quickly enough.”

Murphy and Robertson stressed that the theatre would continue its work in some form, but did not reveal specific future plans.

They said: “This is not an ending for the theatre, but it is for the homes and communities of many people living in the Jungle. We can rebuild again and, indeed, must and will. The same can’t be said for the thousands who now look towards even more uncertain futures.”

However, Murphy told The Stage last week that options being considered included moving closer to shipping containers in Calais – to which displaced refugees are being moved – or to another camp in Dunkirk.

He had also claimed the venue’s team were planning to expand its offering and allowing them to bring theatre to more people.

Since it was first set up in September last year, the theatre has staged performances by and for refugees, as well as open mic nights and workshops in dance, theatre, music and writing.

Shakespeare’s Globe and Theatre Clwyd have both staged performances at the theatre, while companies including the Young Vic, the Royal Court, Kneehigh and Nuffield Theatre have hosted workshops for refugees there.

Producer Sonia Friedman is among the theatre’s high-profile backers, as well as directors Stephen Daldry, Ian Rickson, Vicky Featherstone and David Lan.

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