‘We never come out unscathed’

From left to right Florian Myjer, Olesia Volodkova, Ward Weemhoff, Marien Jongewaard, Vincent Rietveld.Statue Els Zweerink

“I’ve been through horrible auditions. The feeling that you’re freezing, that you can not express yourself, it’s embarrassing. That you can not let go of the third eye. Thinking: I can do this, but I can not “I’m sabotaging myself. You do not see me. And now you think I’m a bad actor.”

That is what actress Florian Myjer tells in the performance Casting by the theater group Amsterdam (formerly De Warme Winkel). His fear of auditions and castings is real and unplayed, and it provides a moving moment in the performance. Casting is a co-production with Holland Festival and makes you curious in advance, because when the theater group Amsterdam takes a closer look at such a topic, you can expect tumult.

Casting is, after all, a phenomenon that is as interesting as it is diffuse. Just to name a few: why do you always see the same faces in Dutch films and TV series (Jacob Derwig, Fedja van Huêt, Ramsey Nasr)? Are Jim Bakkum and Jan Kooijman really the only actors who can star in popular romcoms? And why always Frank Lammers as a proletarian / criminal / vagabond? The laziness of the casting directors? Do you want to play it safe? On the other hand in series like Mokro mafia and ANNE + also a new generation, which must ensure more diversity.

Then there is the subject of power, and by extension the abuse of power, which is an almost inseparable part of the casting world. The Job Gosschalk affair in 2017 – the popular and dreaded casting director, producer and director of Kemna Casting seemed to systematically abuse his power, also sexually – was a wake-up call for the film and theater world. Gosschalk disappeared, Kemna Casting is now called Post Castelijn Casting and is still big and powerful, but that power is shared with agencies like Oi Mundo and Groen Casting by Susanne Groen.

Toneelgroep Amsterdam has a reputation to maintain when it comes to understanding the world of theater and entertainment. The idiosyncratic, evasive company has already made a number of productions in the past, where cultural criticism was delivered in an exciting way. spectacular was The Warm Shop plays The Warm Shop where the performers appropriately acquired a famous dance piece by Pina Bausch. IN Rear end they mocked the then Toneelgroep Amsterdam (now ITA) large repertoire theater by Ivo van Hove. And last season it was magical and disturbing A deeply felt ode to the irony how high art and popular culture embraced at the edge of a swimming pool.

Scene from 'Casting' by the theater group Amsterdam.  Statue Sofie Knijff

Scene from ‘Casting’ by the theater group Amsterdam.Statue Sofie Knijff

Casting was created by the group’s three artistic directors: Florian Myjer, Ward Weemhoff and Vincent Rietveld. In the theatre’s breeding ground De Sloot in Amsterdam-West, we talk about the creation of the performance. Little is left of the original idea, they say. The visitor is presented with a cheap flyer with the text ‘COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMPANY: Due to local and geopolitical conditions, the flyer text that we have previously distributed no longer applies to the final performance.’

Weemhoff: ‘After three weeks of rehearsal, we had a lot of acts where Maria Goos was ironically beaten and all the series we had seen were commented on. But it turned into a bit of a bland satire, too staged. We need to find another form, create more excitement as well. ‘

Myjer: ‘All three of us played a casting director behind a desk with a phone, and in the meantime I searched for actors on the ACT Actors’ Association’s website. But when we showed our last director Marien Jongewaard a first review after the three weeks, he said: ‘No, boys, it is not, and it will not be. It’s too much satire, with too many sketches this really can not become art. ‘

Jongewaard: ‘I thought the original idea was too childish and also underprivileged. We have now put the concept of casting into a broader perspective by bringing reality into the house. There are now scenes where the actors do their best to audition. When the Ukrainian actress arrived, it was also about how to audition as a refugee. Are you eligible to be admitted to this country? Can Ukraine join the EU? That kind of question. ‘

The Ukrainian actress is Olesia Volodkova, who more than two months ago fled her country to the Netherlands and more or less by chance ended up with the theater group Amsterdam. She’s in the show now.

Olesia Volodkova Statue Els Zweerink

Olesia VolodkovaStatue Els Zweerink

Weemhoff: ‘There is, in fact, a power relationship with our Ukrainian counterpart. Although she is an actress, she is also a refugee who has gotten jobs from us. Is it kosher when her city was bombed two months ago? We showed up there as hyenas, and a few weeks later we wondered if it was out of place that we were cycling this into the Holland Festival. But even we never come out unscathed, you know that too ‘.

Rietveld: ‘We have experienced a number of things in recent times, and it has now found a place in the performance. Things for us now top of mind be, say. So the situation in Ukraine is now top of mind† And for us also our name change from De Warme Winkel to the theater group Amsterdam. These are two topics that we want to look at through the lens of the ‘casting’ theme. ‘

To clarify: De Warme Winkel recently decided to change its name to Amsterdam Theater Group (with a small t). It was a kind of tribute to the ‘old’ Toneelgroep Amsterdam, now the International Theater Amsterdam (ITA). ITA, the company led by Ivo van Hove, felt that it was not smart to have discussions that did not lead to anything, after which ITA threatened a lawsuit and the theater group Amsterdam started a petition to continue to bear the name. On Monday, the drama group Amsterdam announced that it would stop the fight. “The ITA maintains its position that our use of the name would be too confusing to the public,” it said in a statement. The name of the group will be announced on Friday. It seems like a joke that has gone awry, but the men seem genuinely moved.

Weemhoff: ‘We are surprised by the great resistance. We really felt that the new name does more justice to who we are and what we do. We grew up with works, just like the old Toneelgroep Amsterdam. Then it would have been nice if we could have worked under that name attached to the story. But we also find that aspect of the acquisition interesting. Just as we have acquired Pina Bausch’s work in The Warm Shop plays The Warm Shop we have now tried to acquire an appropriate name. ‘

Rietveld: ‘As well as you can cast for the role of Romeo or Uncle Wanja, you can also cast for the name of the theater group Amsterdam. It is also in the performance ‘.

Florian Myjer, Vincent Rietveld, Ward Weemhoff statue Els Zweerink

Florian Myjer, Vincent Rietveld, Ward WeemhoffStatue Els Zweerink

Weemhoff: ‘It is really about casting, but not specifically about, for example, why the Dutch film and television world differs so sharply from the Danish. We went more to the roots of the word casting and tried to approach it more philosophically by questioning each other. Whether you fill the role you play well in the theater but also in everyday life, or whether you meet the image that the other person has of you. You can cast a movie, but you do not cast when you are dating or in a relationship? A bad casting is when you cast after what you have in mind: a blonde with blue eyes, yes it’s the woman or actress I need. A good casting makes room for what the actress or person fills in. ‘

During the very first try-out, it turned out that the original plan regarding Casting there is actually a little left. The suggestion that it might be too tricky was used to piss colleagues off, is firmly rejected.

Weemhoff: ‘We like to be harsh and critical as long as it does not become superficial. We love irony, but never as an end point. Irony has always been a means for us to purify the air, to bring the public in line with putting things in perspective and then diving deep and finding a truth. But our first plan with Casting would be too much of an introverted satire, and not challenging enough in form. ‘

Rietveld: ‘Ilse Warringa will make a satirical TV series about the casting world. At best, our performance could have been like this, but it’s too much for our honor. Ilse Warringa should probably do fantastic, and we should not have that at all.

Weemhoff: ‘No, there is no question of frustration. I think it’s the other way around: we often thank for those kinds of series, because those series are not interesting enough. So it’s great that Fedja van Huêt is doing all those roles. I’m aware of how pedantic it seems, but rather that than a malicious bastard with no TV career. Fortunately, we have our own group with whom we can tell our stories. ‘

Myjer has now got his first film role: He has been cast for Sleep wellthe second film by Bosnian-Dutch Ena Sendijarevic, who successfully debuted with Take me to a nice place. Before he got the role, he had to go through four nerve-wracking audition rounds. “For many theater actors, film is the holy grail. Not to me. I like theater ‘, he says Casting

Casting of the theater group Amsterdam can be seen from 22 June to 15 July in Broedplaats De Sloot, Amsterdam

the theater group Amsterdam (formerly De Warme Winkel) plays 'Casting'.  Statue Sofie Knijff

the theater group Amsterdam (formerly De Warme Winkel) plays ‘Casting’.Statue Sofie Knijff

‘The West is best, but now for real’. With this slogan, the theater breeding site De Sloot presents itself as a new place where theater makers can rehearse, try and play performances. Two theaters are located in the industrial area of ​​Amsterdam-West, near Sloterdijk Station. There is also a restaurant. In July, two dance performances can be seen in De Sloot, in the Julidans festival.

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