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Danish culture for English speakers

Aarhus – the city that changed its name to a more English-friendly spelling and adopted an English-language slogan – is now offering cultural performances in English.

Danish culture for English speakers
The first English-language performance is on Monday with Hans Christian, You Must be an Angel. Photo: Morten Fauerby
It’s no secret that it is sometimes difficult to be an expat. It can be hard to know what’s going on in the local community and a language barrier can eliminate a lot of entertainment options.
 
In Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, a theatre company has decided that they might be able to help with that last problem. 
 
As somethingbrand new, Teatret Gruppe 38 is offering local performances in English as a way to give Aarhus's international community a chance to experience Danish culture in a language they understand. 
 
The company’s first local English-language performance will be on Monday when it performs Hans Christian, You Must Be an Angel, a play that builds upon the work of Denmark’s most well-known cultural son, Hans Christian Andersen
 

Bodil Alling

Bodil Alling (pictured), the theatre’s artistic director and the play’s lead actress, told The Local that the theatre has been doing English translations abroad for years until it finally dawned on her that it was “totally stupid” to not also offer an English performance in Aarhus. 
 
“We travel a lot outside of Denmark, so we already had to make an English translation. We decided that it was crazy not to offer it to the English speakers here in Aarhus. There are so many international people living here who can’t go to performances because they can’t understand it,” Alling said. 
 
She said the choice to start off with a play about Hans Christian Andersen was intentional. 
 
“In a way it is a very Danish performance because it is based on his work, so this gives the audience the option of seeing a performance that is actually Danish in a cultural sense but performed in English. I think that will give the city's internationals a very unique experience,” she said. 
 
Teatret Gruppe 38 has the full support of International Community, an Aarhus network dedicated to supporting international employees and their families. 
 
“It’s really positive to see that Teatret Gruppe 38 and other cultural institutions are aware of the many internationals who live in Aarhus and offer events targeted at them,” International Community spokesman Jesper Theil told The Local. 
 
“Many companies need to hire international employees to be able to compete and it’s important that they and their families have something to do in their spare time in order for them to stay,” he added.
 
Aarhus has shown a real understanding of the need to appeal to an international audience in recent years, even going so far as to change its official spelling from Århus to Aarhus and adopting an English-language slogan: “Aarhus. Danish for progress.”
 
Alling said she hoped that her theatre company’s English-language offerings will spur an interest in catering to the city’s international residents. 
 
“I hope more cultural institutions will follow our lead and that this can turn into something special in Aarhus. One of the other theatre companies here has gotten excited about it and is now planning something in English,” she said. 
 
In addition to Monday’s performance of Hans Christian, You Must Be an Angel, Teatret Gruppe 38 will also do an English-language performance of Andersen’s The Little Match Girl on December 16th and its February 15th performance of Hen & SHEep will also be in English. 
 
Alling said she can’t wait to see how the performances are received by Aarhus’s international community. 
 
“I’m excited to see if people will really show up or if it is just something that is a good idea in my head,” she said. 
 
From the looks of it, it's not just in her head. Monday’s performance is nearly sold out, she said.

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AARHUS

One fifth of people in Denmark sceptical of Covid vaccine

Nearly a fifth of people in Denmark are uncertain about whether they would take a coronavirus vaccine if recommended it by the country's health authorities, with researchers warning of a "massive communication task" lying ahead.

One fifth of people in Denmark sceptical of Covid vaccine
Danes were the least sceptical of the eight countries surveyed. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix
According to the latest update from Aarhus University's ongoing How Democracies Cope with COVID19 (HOPE) project, only 51 percent of those surveyed in Denmark described themselves as “completely certain” they would be willing to receive a vaccine,  with a further 31 percent saying that they were partly certain. 
 
Michael Bang Pedersen, the Aarhus psychology professor who leads the project, said that, while worrying, respondents from Denmark were more positive to vaccines than those of any other nation. 
 
“The Danish results look pretty good, the Swedish figures are less good, and some of the results from France are extremely worrisome in my view,” he told The Local. 
 
“So I think there's a massive communication task in front of a lot of national health authorities, including the Danish one.” 
 
Only 38 percent of respondents from France to the study said they were “completely certain” they would take a vaccine. 
 
Here are the figures for the eight nations surveyed, from left to right: France, Hungary, USA, Germany, Sweden, Italy, UK, Denmark. 
 
 
 
Bang Pedersen said that some uncertainty was unsurprising. 
 
“At this point, some uncertainty is to be expected, because we don't know what the features of the vaccine will be, how effective it is, and what the side effects will be,” he said. 
 
“I think that part of the communication task for the authorities will be to acknowledge the uncertainty and to say, 'even if you are uncertain it doesn't mean you are anti-vaccine, and we are going to show you that the vaccine is safe despite those uncertainties.” 
 
He said that the another obstacle could come if young people feel that because they are at too low a risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus to make receiving a vaccine worthwhile. 
 
“They might think, 'I don't think I'll get a vaccine, because I'm not at risk myself'”, he said. 
 
The solution, he said, was to make sure people were “informed about the logic of herd immunity”, and also made to feel empathy with people in vulnerable groups. 
 
Finally, he said governments should already be starting to counteract misinformation about vaccines, and educating their populations to make them less susceptible to counter “fake news” in the internet. 
 
The responses in the report were collected between September 13th and October 3rd.
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