The Copenhagen Interpretation
Often I am a combination of writer, deviser, director and producer, and I'm developing a structured form of storytelling and audience involvement which I call 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).
I’ve scratched aspects of The Copenhagen Interpretation with Coney at Camden People's Theatre (Accompanying) and with Improbable at Devoted & Disgruntled (Capture).
Here's my Tumblr, which is where I capture discoveries, thoughts and questions about The Copenhagen Interpretation as a process, including this stuff.
I design games that often involve gathering responses from a large group of people, using social media platforms. Most recently: Toksvig’s Seasonal Restaurant, a Twitter-based game of collectively imagining the perfect restaurant. This is an ongoing seasonal game. The first Spring Season can be read here: http://bit.ly/ToksvigsSpring.
Capturing the live experience of The Copenhagen Interpretation is a big part of the work I make. Here's my Flickr photostream.
The Copenhagen Interpretation of…
A Fairytale Moment
I’m gathering a library of fairytale moments, collected one-on-one and captured in tiny handmade books. I gather on an ongoing basis, but have also installed or resided with it for periods of time:
A Fairytale Moment @ The Old Nuns Head was the start of the library.
A Fairytale Moment @ Theatre Delicatessen scratched gathering from a full audience.
A Fairytale Moment @ Dulwich Library was an installation of the Fairytale Moments Library, and gathering from the public, alongside fellow gatherer Jennifer Lunn.This was part of Southwark Festival of Words.
Based on the novel by my sister Sandi Toksvig, and written in collaboration with composer Alexander Rudd, Hitler's Canary tells the story of the Toksvig family's work in the Danish resistance movement during the Second World War. The show is designed to be an immersive audience experience, in which we step into the world of the family and experience the war through their eyes. It includes live response to the show by artist Laurie Pink.
We developed this work in collaboration with the Danish musical theatre development company Uterus and Watford Palace Theatre, and with the support of Arts Council England.
Our company was full of regular Copenhagen Interpreters: Niall Ashdown, Emma Manton, Kyle McPhail, Charlotte Palmer, Andrew Pembrooke, Laurie Pink, Sophie Trott, Matthew Woodyatt, Louise Voce.
Here's Kyle McPhail talking about our process.
Here's Michael Xavier singing The Pen Song from the show.
A Shropshire Lad
Theatre-maker Niall Ashdown composed some beautiful songs using the World War I poetry of A.E. Hausmann as lyrics, then wove those songs into a narrative to create a piece that gives a structure through which communities can weave their own local history from the period, in performance and presentation, in a village hall experience that uniquely captures that time and place.
I have worked with him as a dramaturg, and co-produced/directed the first development workshop.
The archive is here.
In an effort to counter the many ways in which a writer is told 'no' by producers, I designed and produced a writing event called Tiny Shows, invited writers to apply, and said yes to every single one of them.
Over the course of a weekend, we gathered in open space, created many tiny shows around the theme of Cinderella, and presented them as a collective whole on the Sunday evening. This was a site-specific event, written and rehearsed and performed in an old office building in the City.
The archive is here.
We also did an LGBTQ+ Tiny Shows at Omnibus Theatre, and other such events are in the pipeline.
More info about Tiny Shows can be found here.