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Getting to know: Det Ferösche Compagnie

Two people perform in a theatre with a glass screen between them
15 Feb 2024
3 min read

We chatted with Det Ferösche Compagnie's director Búi about the Faroe Islands, forging identities and performing their upcoming show Castle of Joy

What drew you to the story of Pól Jóhannus Poulsen/Joy? 

His life story deeply resonated with us. Here was a person who, suppressed by his own people and by Danish rule, had the courage and audacity to be himself. In a way, in building his Castle of Joy (a world of his own as he says in the play) he liberated himself. The play has had a profound effect on the Faroese audience. I believe this is because Joy symbolises our nation. We have been under Danish rule for hundreds of years. Historically we were forced to submit to the Danish language and culture. Today, almost all Faroese people study in Denmark and most systems in our society are Danish. Despite this, we are our own people, struggling to build a world of our own.

How much do the Faroe Islands influence your work? 

The Faroe Islands, despite their small size, have endured centuries of Danish colonisation. Producing performances in the Faroese language that depicts Faroese history becomes more than mere art; it transforms into a resolute act of defiance. Also, because we are so few people on the Faroe Islands, and we insist on being a whole nation, Faroese artists tend to be multi-disciplined. For instance, Kristina Sörensen, who stars in Castle of Joy, is not only an actress but also a dancer and musician. Dánjal á Neystabö, the composer and performer of the play's music, is equally versatile as a composer, singer, writer, and actor. I suppose you can say that it's in our Faroese DNA to create multi-disciplined performances and to be defiant. 

What’s your favourite part of performing Castle of Joy? 

In the ending of the play when Joy returns home from Denmark in 1945, having endured immense neglect, institutional violence, isolation, and starvation amidst a world ravaged by war, he begins to build his own world. This moment is deeply moving for us to perform. 

How does it feel to bring Castle of Joy to a UK audience, most of whom will be unfamiliar with the story? 

We're very excited to bring our work to the UK. Most of us have studied in London, therefore, Barbican has a special place in our hearts. It's where we've seen performances by many of the best theatre makers in the world, such as Robert LePage, Complicité, Ivo Van Hove, Katie Mitchell, etc. For us to come from our small islands with our humble play to such a big and important cultural centre is both exhilarating and frightening. Having said that we're quite confident that the performance will move the UK audience since the story about Joy and his castle is universal. 

Describe Castle of Joy in three words. 

Epic. Quirky. Moving.

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