REVIEW: Stad der Blinden by Theater Utrecht (in Dutch)

Door Allison Van Spaendonk
Gepubliceerd: https://www.springutrecht.nl/

Theater dat je volledig meesleept

“Nu gaan we schrikken,” denk ik terwijl ik op het puntje van mijn stoel zit, met mijn handen over mijn oren. Ik voel mijn hart kloppen in mijn keel: “nu gaat het komen,” denk ik nog net tot…. Je voelt de hele zaal met je mee schrikken. “Wow, dit is heftig.” Gisteravond ging ik naar de première van Stad der Blinden van Theater Utrecht, een krachtig stuk die je volledig meesleept.

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“Niemand kan zich nog redden, dat is blindheid.” – Stad der Blinden

Stad der Blinden is één van de stukken die op locatie gespeeld wordt en is gelegen bij de Elektronweg in Utrecht. Het stuk is gebaseerd op het boek van José Saramago met gelijknamige titel. In het kort gaat het verhaal over een stad die te maken krijgt met een “blindheid epidemie”: één voor één worden mensen wit blind; zomaar. Het theater speelt in op 10 mensen die in quarantaine worden geplaats. De vertelinstantie is de enige vrouw in de stad die wel kan zien.

Ik stap uit de bus en vraag me af waar ik beland ben. Midden in een soort industrieterrein ligt een hangaar dat volledig is omgebouwd tot een theater, een prachtig beeld. We mogen gaan zitten en in nog geen vijf minuten zit de hele zaal vol. Het licht gaat uit en het verhaal begint. Ik word meegesleurd op een rollercoaster vol “niet-georganiseerde ellende.” Het heftige verhaal zorgt ervoor dat ik op het puntje van mijn stoel blijf zitten. Het is een choquerend, hard en krachtig verhaal, maar ik wil blijven kijken. Ik zie de personages op het podium stilletjes veranderen in wilde beesten. Zonder moreel, zonder enige vorm van beschaafdheid en ik zit op een stoel: te kijken, te observeren. Wat een gek gevoel.

“Sommige hoop is waanzin” – Stad der Blinden

Er speelt zich een realistische waanzin af op het podium. Aan de ene kant doet het me denken “zouden mensen dit echt doen?” aan de andere kant lijkt het ook een beetje absurd. De acteurs zorgen ervoor dat ik mij volledig inleef in het verhaal. Het zet je echt aan tot nadenken. De theatrale beelden, het gebruik van het decor, de acteurs, de setting, het verhaal, dit draagt allemaal bij aan de kracht van het stuk. Wanneer het licht op het podium uit gaat en het applaus begint voel je een soort kalmte terug in de zaal komen; het is alsof iedereen een lang ingehouden adem eindelijk laat ontsnappen. Het is echt een indrukwekkend gevoel wat zo’n verhaal met je doet. Puur kippenvel. Stad der Blinden van Theater Utrecht is een krachtige vermenging van waanzin, realiteit, het beest in de mens maar ook liefde, steun en vriendschap.

Stad der Blinden is nog tot 6 juni te zien in de Elektronweg 24 te Utrecht. Tickets en info: https://www.springutrecht.nl/programma/stad-der-blinden of http://www.theaterutrecht.nl/voorstellingen/stad-der-blinden

SHORT REVIEW: “WAR” by Amanda Piña and Daniel Zimmerman

I have to say that I have always been a fan of theatre that treats itself as an experience rather than just a performance. Earlier tonight I saw the performance WAR by Amanda Piña and Daniel Zimmerman at the Stadsschouwburg in Utrecht, during the festival SPRING Utrecht. A performance that grasped my attention from the moment I walked into the theatre.
Instagram: @allisonvs

 

WAR is a performance that is described, by SPRING Utrecht as edgy dance. Normally edgy dance doesn’t speak to me but something about this performance did. A lot of it has to do with how the performance is described: “WAR is a dancing manifesto against the advancing homogenisation of art and the world dedicated to all the oppressed and lost perspectives” (WAR program book).

First of all, anything that calls itself a manifesto sparks my interest. A manifesto usually promotes a new idea or perspective. The small fact that the performance title is WAR and that it calls itself a manifesto, and just might promote a new perspective on the idea of WAR, is a bold move.
Second of all, it places itself against the homogenisation of art, something I have been interested in for some time now.

As I said the performance started as an experience. The theatre doors open and you walk into the big auditorium space. While walking into the space you are overwhelmed by a very loud noise. The noise continues for a while, keeping the audience alert but also a little uncomfortable. At the same time a bright light is fixed on us (the audience), making it feel like we’re being watched.
The performance starts with images of guns, already connotating war and violence. The rest of the performance is divided into 11 pieces. These 11 different pieces are all based on traditional dances from the Rape-Nui constitutes (on the Easter Island).

“In an environment influenced by tourism, these traditional dance forms are both identity forming and survival strategies” – WAR (program book)

They use this Rapa-Nui repertoire to transfer the motif of war to a global level. Each of the 11 pieces has a short back story, that is told via a voice over. These back stories range from traditional warning dances for the wars to come, to a non dance about a father that has experiences a real war, to criticism on the use of drones by the U.S. Army.

The dancers treat the traditional dances with a lot of respect, which is beautiful to watch. Although a little abstract, I enjoyed the performance. The only thing that bothered me a little was the explanation before every piece. In some cases it added a little magic but in other cases it took the magic away.

SHORT REVIEW: Complexity of Belonging by Anouk van Dijk and Falk Richter (20/05/2015)

By Allison Van Spaendonk

Last night I went to see the EU première of the performance Complexity of Belonging by Anouk van Dijk and Falk Richter, performed by the Australian collective Chunky Move. The première took place at the festival SPRING in Utrecht and served as the opening performance of the festival. And what an opening it was: a full theatre and a standing ovation. 

After a short talk by the SPRING Director on the importante of culture in our current society there was another talk by Anouk van Dijk. Van Dijk mostly talked about her creating proces and her journey to Australia. She talked about the excitement of not knowing and how it inspires her. Van Dijk gave a short history of Australia and talked about how Richter and her came upon the idea of belonging, then the performance began.

“I like not knowing. Not knowing inspires me to dance and to perform” – Anouk van Dijk

As described on the SPRING website Complexity of Belonging is a piece that seamlessly combines dance and theatre. It is performed by nine talented dancers, whose characters all struggle with the questions “where do I belong and how do I belong?” Van Dijk, Richter and the performers approached the idea of belonging in multiple ways and by asking different questions like: “is a relationship a place of belonging?”

“Feeling estranged and out of place sharpens my eyes” – Anouk van Dijk

Not only does the performance deal with very serious issues, like marriage equality, gay rights, nationality, immigration and long distance relationships, it is also filled with humor. For example, there is a character named Lauren who is looking for the “perfect boyfriend or husband” and describes this perfect utopian guy to her therapist which turns into a monologue consisting out of 176 different personality traits. By combining these every day world issues (if you want to call it that) with these bits and pieces of humor Van Dijk and Richter have created a piece that is easy to watch but at the same time makes you question your own reality and place of belonging.

In short: a great performance with amazing talent that is a must see for anyone who is a fan of the dance and theater combination. Let yourself get overwhelmed by the amount of information, the nine different – but all relatable – storylines, the difficult and sometimes amusing questions that are asked, and the mind-blowing talent of the dancers on stage.

Complexity of Belonging plays again tonight in the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht at 8pm. Tickets are available via http://springutrecht.nl/

More info on Chunky Move: http://chunkymove.com.au/

LIFE GOAL COMPLETED: Run half a marathon!

My bucket list doesn’t exist out of a lot of things. Mostly travelling, learning about new things or how to do new things and running. When I was 15 I made this list and two of the items were: run half a marathon and run a marathon. I am so very proud to say that I have completed one of these.

Today I ran half a marathon at 25th edition of the Leiden Marathon. I finished in 2 hours and 16 minutes. My goal was to finish in 2 hours and 10 minutes but because of the heat, and my first time EVER running this distance I still felt very proud. I was incredibly lucky that my dad, an experienced marathon runner, ran with me the entire time.

I would like to thank my asics for the training program I followed to finish this race. It was incredibly helpful. Now the plan is to relax and recover and in two weeks start training for a marathon (also with my asics). I don’t know which one, I don’t know how well I will do but I will run one.

Here are some pictures:

 

Currently writing: A work in progress #MAthesis

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Currently working on my MA-thesis on the role and importance of documentation in artistic research. I’ve divided my thesis into three parts. The first focuses on the question “what is artistic research?”, in this part I work with three different theories: the first two from the book Series of Philosophy of Art and Art Theory: Artistic Research (2004) by Annette W. Balkema and Henk Slager (eds.). And the third from Artistic Research Methodology: Narrative, Power and the Public (2014) by Mika Hannula, Juha Suoranta en Tere Vadén. In this chapter I try to explain what artistic research is and does, how it is different from academic research and what the basic role of documentation in artistic research is.

The second chapter looks at the importance of documentation in artistic research and the different ways in which we can use or apply documentation. I mainly focus on the most popular ways of documenting: writing, drawing, video/recording and feedback as documentation.

The third and last chapter is a case-study. In this chapter I use the work Re:Renaissance (that premiered last Wednesday the 13th, see link), by my dear friend Benjamin Muller as a case study to analyse the role of documentation of artistic research, which I am currently working on.

Let’s keep writing!

 

Short review: NBCollection in Theater Kikker (11 – 13 december 2014)

by Allison Van Spaendonk

“After five years of intensive productivity, it’s time for a retrospective” (NBprojects).

In light of ‘5 years of Nicole Beutler’ Theater Kikker in Utrecht organized three special nights in Beutler’s honour. Four of Beutler’s pieces were presented during these three days in different combinations. Songs, Dialogue with Lucinda, The Garden and Still Life were presented at this mini festival. The ones that caught my attention were Songs and Dialogue with Lucinda. Two almost opposite performances when they’re compared to one another, but seeing them right after each other created a beautiful dialogue.

Choreographer and theatre director Nicole Beutler is known for her genre-busting, multi-medial performances. This mini festival is the perfect celebration of her work. Not only does it show her diversity, but it also shows the connections between different pieces that weren’t visible before. Songs is a performance that celebrates “words of heroines from classical literature brought back to life in a wild pop concert” (NBprojects). In comparison to Dialogue With Lucinda, Songs can be seen as a more chaotic and bold performance. There’s one actress on stage and she presents the words of eleven different well-known literary characters. The words of these literary characters are presented in a kind of rock-and-roll performance. So they’re put in an entirely different context. A bold way of presenting these different characters but it works really well. The talented actress is able to jump from one song to the other presenting all these women in a very passionate way. It is mesmerizing to look at.

Dialogue with Lucinda is structurally the opposite of Songs. Dialogue with Lucinda is based on some pieces of the minimalist choreographer Lucinda Childs. This performance focused on “the collective body in symmetrical patterns” (NBprojects). Structurally it might be the opposite of Songs, but in another way it is in perfect dialogue with it. Dialogue with Lucinda celebrates another strong woman, Lucinda Childs. Not in her words but in her movements and way of choreographing. The piece by Beutler is based on Radial Courses and Interior Drama by Lucinda Childs, two pieces that are dominated by complexity and an undecipherable structure. Because of the undecipherable structure of this performance it is in contrast with Songs. Songs has a more chaotic but recognisable structure. Because they are so in contrast with each other, the diversity of Beutler is emphasized.