‘Fuck corona!’ It’s the first reassuring sound I hear when I get off the boat in West-Terschelling and whiz past the De Betonning music scene on an electric rental bike. One of the performers shouts from the bottom of his heart. It should be clear that the relief is great at the Oerol festival until 19 June.
The theater festival with the largest stage in the Netherlands, namely the entire island of Terschelling, started again this weekend. ‘It-can-weather’ is not a thing of the past. And rightly so, that it is possible again after two years of mishaps and pandemics, and then also on the old strength, feels like a little miracle. Theater in all possible forms can be seen in 56 places on the island: dancing on the beach and sci-fi in the woods, absurdism in a parking lot and performance art in Midsland’s church. In the craziest places in the landscape you will suddenly find stands with wooden benches for three hundred people.
‘Can everyone be with a little longer?’, An Oerol employee asks at the performance The world is as you are† A group of latecomers still need to be pushed into the already tightly packed grandstand. There we are again: butt to butt, surrounded by fleece jackets and backpacks, watching the smoke from the citronella theater as the sun goes down. How nice.
The performance in question is musical theater by Maas Teater and Dans en Reindier, the pop musician Reinier van Harten’s alter ego. Unfortunately, it’s a somewhat unbalanced show, where Van Harten’s music stands out positively. The sensitive and smooth pop songs, like his appearance, are reminiscent of David Bowie and show an impressive musical variation.
The story that is played in between leaves a lot to be desired. In a large reflective sphere, five characters are, as in the American animated film Inside out, plays the emotions of a young man (Van Harten) who turns out to be on his way to his own funeral. Suicide, transformation and daring to be who you really are, these are the themes that together do not want to be a good story. Fortunately, there is still the futuristic-sounding music.
The future (of our world) is a remarkably frequent recurring theme in this Oerol. The theater program contains a lot of science fiction work or looks at our problematic planet from a cosmic perspective. The fight theater group YoungGangsters plays e.g. The promised land, an ‘old school western in outer space’. The visual arts installation Gaia shows the earth from a spatial perspective. Project Wildeman performs a theatrical ritual near the idyllic dune lake Hee in The sacred life of plantsa performance set in 2092.
The theater group Oostpool goes all the way to Griene pôlle, an open meadow in the middle of the forest. There, the group has built a giant white house. This is where Ivy’s (Emma Pelckman’s) spaceship crashes. She is forced to knock on the door of the house’s strange occupants, who turn out to live on a doomed planet.
Kasper Tarenskeen and Jan Hulst wrote and directed a sick and fuck me weird sci-fi thriller with the title It will be fine… About what it’s like to live on a dying planet and the lies the inhabitants keep telling themselves so as not to put an end to it right away. It sounds depressing, and it is. But Tarenskeen and Hulst inject the story with their distinctive black humor, satire and elaborate language.
Incidentally, during the creation of this performance, it turned out that the corona is not the only thing that can bother Oerol. The evening performances of It will be fine… all had to be moved for dinner due to a local mosquito infestation. It is stinging sand flies that become active at sunset. The situation proved untenable for players and the public.
And besides those mites, the corona has not completely disappeared yet, though Oerol people like to pretend that it is. One (only one, you might say) show has been temporarily canceled due to cast attacks: Under wet from Tryater. Substitutes will be trained as soon as possible.
If you do not want to take any risks, head to the beach where the aerosols have been blown away before coughing them up well. The Dancers play their beautiful (somewhat older) performance Wait a minute, which becomes even more intrusive in the place with sometimes hundreds of meters between the dancers. The beautifully portrayed desires for support and physical contact in this whimsical world, sung by frontman Guy Corneille, should appeal to everyone.
punishment from BonteDog
★★★ ☆☆, can only be seen on Oerol
‘It’s wild that they leave you alone with us,’ say the criminals in the show punishment threatens the public at some point. Just for fun, of course: the youth theater group BonteHond from Almere was officially registered as a community service last year. Through the penitentiary, convicts can now perform their community service with the group. Last year, the first convict came to perform all sorts of chores for the group. Now this person is recording punishmentalong with six professional actors.
punishment can be seen in a remote place on Terschelling. There we see a group of convicts doing their shit work, in this case collecting pine cones and polishing them. There are two supervisors with their own problems. Director Judith Faas and author Sanne Schuhmacher turned it into a collage performance where humanity is the central theme. Are they villains or criminals? And how effective is a humiliating community service really? These are the somewhat obvious problems that the creators raise in a rather simple notion in the end. Despite the cheerful playing style, but it could have been better.
mercy from Teater Rast
★★★★ ☆, also at Over het IJ Festival and in the autumn in various theaters.
Grace (Charlie Chan Dagelet) is the dreaded ‘gringohunter’. She fled the plantation where she worked as a slave. Now she ‘pops’ white people faster than her shadow. Together with two bounty hunters, she hatches a plan to take revenge on her oppressors. That’s the story of mercy by Teater Rast, perhaps the most violent performance at Oerol this year.
If this gets you to the movie Django Unchained suggests, then it’s right. Director Ada Ozdogan and author Momo Samwel made with mercy a Dutch version of Quentin Tarantino’s film. The language (‘What the hell?’), The violence (an ear is cut off) and the theme (justice in rewriting history) are all Tarantino.
But the theatrical language that Ozdogan uses is extremely original. The setting is Terschelling’s nocturnal forest, buzzing with mosquitoes and tension. The violent choreographies are cleverly executed, and there are enough surprising twists to keep the audience captivated. At large-scale festivals like Oerol, theater can quickly become rude and noisy. In the case of mercy that’s exactly the point.
From the parade to Cultura Nova
This summer, the theater festivals are going wild again, corona volente. As a traveling festival The parade in Eindhoven (17-26 / 6), The Hague (1-17 / 7), Utrecht (22 / 7-7 / 8) and Amsterdam (12-28 / 8). About the IJ festival is in Amsterdam (8-17 / 7). The Bosch counts down to the boulevard (4-14 / 8). Groningen has Noorderzon (18-28 / 8) and the Zeeland Late Summer Festival lasts from 26/8 to 3/9. The 31st edition of the International Visual Theater Festival will be held in Heerlen Culture Nova (26/8 -4/9).