September 22, 2017
We’re delighted to announce that theatre company PSYCHEdelight are the new Counterpoints Arts artists in residence.
Founded and directed by Sophie Besse, PSYCHEdelight created the play Borderline in 2016 following facilitated workshops in Calais refugee camps. Sophie, a theatre director and art therapist, had found an eagerness for comedy among refugees to contrast with and express the tragedy they were living through. This experience gave her the impulse to create Borderline in collaboration with Frank Wurzinger, a professional clown practitioner.
Following a six-week devising period with an ensemble of seven different nationalities, including refugees who had been in Calais, the first performances took place at the Cockpit Theatre in November 2016.
Borderline has subsequently been performed to widespread acclaim at Southbank Centre, in Brighton, Sheffield and Germany. The group has been filmed for The Guardian and featured in press articles for the Big Issue and Huffington Post.
“We see satire as an apt way to demonstrate the farcical European governments’ response to the situation in Calais and the refugees’ incredible resilience to that absurdity,” explains Sophie. “Our aim is to bring the first-hand experience of refugees in Calais in a creative and entertaining way to a large number of people nationally and internationally and the use of comedy helps improve public perception of integration issues and refugees themselves. It’s a very important point for us when the debate can often be dominated by negative narratives.”
Enayat, a young member of the Borderline group, says: “I don’t want sadness anymore. I don’t want pity. I love making people laugh. It makes me feel better.”
The residency with Counterpoints Arts will start with three performances at our Platforma Festival in Newcastle and Stockton, October 2017. We will then work with PSYCHEdelight on a week-long programme of performances at The Pleasance theatre in London, featuring Borderline and work by other theatre companies making work led by and involving refugees. There will be workshops and shared learning, exploring how theatre makers from refugee and non-refugee backgrounds can develop new work, reach wider audiences and create opportunities for career development.
Counterpoints Arts will also support the development of Borderline 2, a new show looking at the experience of asylum seekers in the in the UK.
“Borderline has established PSYCHEdelight as one of the leading creators of theatre by and with refugees, exploring new ways to embed genuine participation that can lead to professional performance and artistic development. Their work is insightful, moving and very funny.”
Tom Green, Counterpoints Arts
“It’s such an honour to be artists in residence with a charity such as Counterpoints Arts. We admire their work a lot and completely agree with their vision in terms of work with refugees. This collaboration is of course a great opportunity for us to expand our network and reach a wider audience, but, much more than that, we feel extremely lucky to benefit from their experience, their feedback and their precious ongoing support to create and tour Borderline 2.”
Sophie Besse, PSYCHEdelight
The first Counterpoints Arts artist in residence was poet Kayo Chingonyi. The residency comprised a series of performances, a Learning Lab and an associated residency with Royal Holloway, University of London. Kayo’s first collection, Kumukanda, was published by Chatto this summer.
Photo: Severine Sajous