door Frederiek Biemans
May 7th, 2020
I could start this letter in many ways. For instance like this
These weeks are great. I spend a lot of time with my family. Everyone around us is healthy. The sun is shining. My son loves walking. So do I. In other words, enjoyment.
But I could also start my letter as follows
These weeks are horrible. People are sick, people are dying, the uncertainty everyone is experiencing, the impact on the economy, the impact on the arts, our lovely theatre shows that are cancelled. I don’t even know where to start.
This situation has two sides. The days at home, and these days I am home a lot, are lovely days. The stressful days full of travel and having a million meetings resulting in being a little bit late for every one of them, are non-existent at the moment. My laptop has not been inside my bag for weeks and online conversations are relatively easily to organise. The hustling days before corona are being put in perspective. Slowing down for a while is actually pretty healthy for the fast paced world we live in, however ironic that might be.
However, there is also this lingering and nagging feeling of uneasiness. For instance about how we had to end the theatre tour of Hoe ik talent voor het leven kreeg (How I Became Talented at Life). Right before the government put the country in lockdown we were working on getting all 175 participants with a refugee background together for the last show in the Meervaart and organising a great after party. Now we recorded some video’s and talks online. It feels like abruptly ending a journey we have been looking forward to for so long. I don’t know how this feels for you, but we’re adapting to a possible new scenario each week. Soon the theatres are allowed to open again, but only for 30 people including the theatres’ employees (if they haven’t gone bankrupt that is). For Hoe ik talent voor het leven kreeg 30 people means half the cast and crew… There will be exclusive and probably extraordinary performances with maybe 20 audience members a meter and a half away from each other. But if this continues the revival of our show Mollen will not be able to open in November on the railway station Utrecht Centraal. Slowly this situation is getting a greater meaning. Theatre is about a collective experience in close proximity, but how do you create that with a meter and a half distance?
I try to hold on to the thought that theatre has survived worse things. If you consider that theatre existed since the ancient Greeks we don’t have to worry that these temporary measurements will kill theatre all together. This is not comforting for the artists and theatres that are struggling to keep their head above water at the moment, but it provides some perspective for the future. The question is, what will that future look like?
I sincerely hope that the realisation of vulnerability a lot of people are experiencing at the moment is not forgotten in the post-corona era. I’m not referring to physical vulnerability, but the realisation that the world as we know it can change in an instance. I hope in the future when we perform on location or in a theatre, for one or a thousand audience members, that this realisation helps us to connect a little bit faster and be a little more open towards other people, because we have experienced that everyone of us is vulnerable.
I wish you good days with the people around you and strength for all the distancing days to come.
Floris van Delft
Artistiek leider ‘Wat we doen’ | Huisgezelschap Meervaart
door Floris van Delft
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