In an academic setting as encouraging and progressive as Boston University CFA I often find myself observing and questioning the ‘bubble’ that is CFA SOT. It is not uncommon to do work that is meant for CFA audiences in mind rather that the world at large. This begs the question, who is doing the dangerous work? Who actually puts their safety on the line for the sake of theater that makes an difference to the community at large while we take such comfort in the safety of our school?
This is not to minimize the wonderful work that come together in our program and the conversations that ensue but I couldn’t help but be struck by just the setting alone of The Good Chance Theatre. Located in Calais, France this company caters to a community of 6,000 refugees seeking entrance into Britain. Locals ranging from Afghans, Sudanese, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Iranians, Kurds, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Kuwaitis, ect. this company hosts more than just your average stage play. The physical theater sits in the middle of a large camp housing everything from hairdressers to restaurants and within its walls provides services ranging from classes in writing to acting to karate. The walls decorated with paintings and drawings courtesy of the community members.
Good Chance gets its name from the community members, all of whom are attempting to gain access to Britain and it references their attitude of the day. Some days there is no chance of getting in, but some days there is a ‘Good Chance.’ I found myself astounded by the collaborative and communal nature of this company. Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy, the founders, set out to bring life and healing and most importantly hope to an otherwise desperate people. It is easy to ask why a theater would appear in a place that should have alternate priorities, food, water, shelter. But this is not just a performance space it is a shelter from otherwise deadly weather and a place for learning and coming together as a community. Which, I would argue, are equally as necessary in times of need.
In a university of engineers and pre-med students it is tempting to entertain the thought that theatre is frivolous, that storytelling is a luxury for the privileged but it matters, it matters so much. Not only do we tell the stories of those in desperate and trying times but we are there to help heal when those times are the present. France is threatening to bulldoze the camp and Good Chance along with it and I severely hope they do not take this action, for our merit is revealed when we are faced with those in need.
You can read more in Christopher Haydon’s excellent article: