Not far away is Filmby, the city’s 13-year-old soundstage complex where both seasons of Dicte were filmed. VIA University College, the local vocational school, recently launched a filmmaking programme that includes internships at the studios. “Students are taught how to make productions, from idea to finished product,” Ellen Riis, a filmmaker who heads the programme, said. With its foray into entertainment, Aarhus hopes to take its long-standing underground arts culture mainstream.
One night near the end of my stay, I met up with Krull at Godsbanen, a former railway station converted into a den of artists’ studios. Krull and I were there at the recommendation of his friend Dr. Bo, a magician with a slender moustache and a broad-brimmed black hat. Dr Bo knew about a travelling circus, the Brunette Bros., that was scheduled to perform that night among the trailers. It was twilight. The Brunette Bros. ran out of a trailer decked in old-style circus signage. A small crowd gathered, and the smell of popcorn cut through the moist air.
“Popcorn,” Dr. Bo murmured, sniffing theatrically. “A small sign of showbiz?’
The clowns served the popcorn wrapped in old magazine pages. The show began. With balletic precision, they played out a domestic drama with the trailer as a stage. “A clown’s life,” one said, at the droll peak of the performance, “is a mess.” A puppet show began. The clowns provided musical backing with an accordion and a tuba. ‘We’re having some technical difficulties tonight!” one announced in mock panic, and urged the audience to the next face of the trailer. There were seats there, formed into a miniature amphitheater, and a cozy fire in a brazier nearby. The puppet show continued, more elaborately, with small toy figurines and intricate backdrops, flamenco dancers and musclemen, and a Rapunzel-like woman who did acrobatics on her own enormous braid. It was the smallest, cheapest circus I had ever seen. But as the night wore on in Scandinavia’s great unknown city, it seemed fitting that it should also be, by a wide margin, the best.