Jenifer Toksvig


My poem "What They Took With Them - a List" was made into a film by global refugee charity UNHCR and Facebook, to promote awareness of the global refugee crisis, and draw attention to a petition that was delivered to the UN headquarters in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants in September 2016.

The petition is here:

Please sign and share as much as you can - the petition is still ongoing.

You can engage with UNHCR, and watch more films and live interviews with their Ambassadors, live on Facebook here.

Using the poem for educational purposes

Many thanks to all who have been in touch with regard to engaging their students with "What They Took With Them - a List". The poem is currently only available through its connection with the film and this UNHCR campaign; the text is not available separately anywhere. Once the petition has been delivered, we'll be looking into an education pack that can be sent out: more info here when available.



2016 News

September 2016 - in partnership with the Soho Theatre, and Devoted & Disgruntled: The Larder @ The Soho hosted an open space conference for industry professionals around the question: What are better ways for us to develop new musical theatre writing? A link to the event report will be posted here, and can be sent to you by email if you're on the mailing list. If you support, develop or produce new musicals in the UK and would like to come to future events like this, please get in touch. This event was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Most recently as lyricist and wordsmith, I wrote several songs and a piece of spoken word poetry for Moving Stories, an event at the National Theatre in the Lyttelton, in aid of the United Nations' refugee charity UNHCR. The show featured a glorious cast including Juliet Stevenson, James Bolam, Adjoa Andoh and many others, and some great new writing by playwrights such as David Edgar and Richard Bean.

Producer Emma Manton, performer Niall Ashdown and I then joined the Good Chance Encampment on the Southbank to run a Moving Stories workshop around my spoken word poem from the National event: What They Took With Them.

As bookwriter, I'm currently reshaping a show Alan Menken wrote long ago with bookwriter/lyricist Steve Brown, called Atina, Evil Queen of the Galaxy with Uterus, the Danish musical theatre development organisation. Our next step is a workshop in New York towards the end of 2016.

As a facilitator for new musical writing, I produce a writing event called Tiny Shows, most recently in collaboration with Women Who Write Musicals, So & So Arts, and The MTA, supported by Arts Council England. In collaboration with American writer/composer Rob Hartmann, I co-designed and co-facilitated the M.A. in Writing Musicals at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London.

As director/facilitator, my most recent collaboration was with composer/performer Niall Ashdown on the development of his show A Shropshire Lad, which was also supported by Arts Council England. The magnificent Archive is here.

As advocate, with playwright David Edgar, I'm the co-Chair of the Theatre Committee at the Writers Guild of Great Britain, and very proud of the new Guidelines for Musical Theatre that we have recently published here. Under the umbrella of The Larder, I'm working with the Writers Guild of Great Britain and the Musicians' Union to update all musical theatre guidelines, and then create and publish a booklet that signposts writers, composers, directors, independent producers and others to the right place for the best advice on developing new musical theatre in the UK.


The Copenhagen Interpretation

The name comes from a Quantum Mechanics theory that I can't begin to explain, but it's related to my view of the interaction between audience and live performance: that every encounter between any audience member and any live performance on any given day in any given place at any given time is unique. Much of my work is about acknowledging that, and facilitating encounters that are designed to embrace and enhance it.

The Copenhagen Interpretation is not a theatre company. It's just a description of the people and the processes I work with, in the name of finding the elusive system that is the cardboard box in which Schrödinger keeps his cat. Right now, I refer to it as Storyworlding (or Holodeck Theatre).

Here's my Tumblr, which is where I capture discoveries, thoughts and questions about it.