WINTERSWIJK – Going to the place where the Quarry Theater performs is a special experience, being at a production is a unique experience. Four times ‘De Freule’ last week, all sold out. Twelve thousand visitors were usually silent witnesses to the exciting life of Judith van Dorth, a fiery woman in search of love, an activist in search of justice, whose life ended in front of a firing squad.
By Josee Gruwel
The true story of Lady Judith van Dorth, who was born in 1747 in Warnsveld and was executed in 1799 in Winterswijk because she acted against the patriots under French rule, had been on the list of Dirk Willink, promoter and chairman of the quarry for years Theater Winterswijk. “She’s super interesting in life,” he says. A production never materialized, Willink was unable to convince the artistic directors, Gerben Krusselbrink and Jasper Korving.
Freule brought to life
But with the arrival of Jasper Verheugd, Jan Tekstra, Chiara Re and Jos Pijnappel, a new artistic team for this ninth production, ‘De Freule’ was brought to life for the theatre. Preparations started more than three years ago. Due to corona, the planned performances for 2020 and 2021 were cancelled. This year there was no disappointment. Last Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, visitors, 65 percent of whom do not come from the Achterhoek, could, as usual, descend into the forty-meter deep quarry where the cast, the artistic team and the organization put everything. up for the show. Willink: “Delicious, so happy about it. The family feeling is palpable again. It’s all about attachment here, all in all around 350 to 400 people work on it, of which the volunteers are particularly invaluable. In addition, we are also supported by 55 companies.”
Passionate love story
The intro to ‘De Freule’ is short, powerful and straight to the point: Judith van Dorth (Renée van Wegberg), who was brought up blindfolded by a horse and cart, and who sends her ex-boyfriend and lawyer away, who makes an effort to free her from the impending, in his opinion cowardly, execution. The unlucky one is taken before the firing squad and executed. Hand out of the coffin, one more shot and all life is out of her. There was still a quiet hope that her clothes would burn, as the story goes, but that turned out to be a step too far. The audience is then surprised by a local native (Dinant Deunk) speaking the local language who puts the lawyer to the test. The latter sings ‘Sometimes reality is just not what it seems’, a theme that appears repeatedly. Then it’s time to unfold the love story between the young Judith (Van Wegberg rose from the coffin) and the elderly family friend and lawyer Engelbert Crookceus. This is done with integrity, passion, freedom and charm by the two fantastic protagonists: Renée van Wegberg and Steyn de Leeuwe.
Gradually, Judith finds herself in a situation: unloving and quarrelsome parents, belonging to the old nobility in decline, who forbid a relationship between the two lovers. An attempt to escape by the couple fails, Judith is banished to a women’s home in Delft, where tender souls are broken, but where she knows her fire will never go out. When she returns after seven years, she is consumed with grief because her love has not waited for her. An intense and intimate goosebump moment.
Not enough out of the paint
In the compact story, which is performed at a rapid pace in seven quarters without a break, the fiery love story with the banishment is a beautifully moving whole. There is clear structure in the smoothly flowing, clear, sometimes funny texts and the playful direction with an eye for humor. Partly because of this, players can flourish fully and easily.
The scenes where the family situation with topics such as poverty, debt, moving, a sexual relationship between Judith and her brother and the death of the parents are discussed are interesting, sometimes intense. But what matters in this context: Judith’s role after the invasion of the French – four years before her execution – and her actions against the patriots, are ultimately insufficiently understood by the public. What exactly is her vision, what is the deeper meaning of her behavior? At the rate at which this last episode is also being played, a calm monologue by the activist would have been a relief. Judith, the then 50-year-old woman. The sense of time also disappears. The lady continues to look like a young flower in her always beautiful white clothes. That doesn’t change the fact that the stage shots, including the final scene with all the extras, are eye-catching.
It’s all about attachment here, in total around 350 to 400 people work on it, of which the volunteers are particularly invaluable
At almost full moon
On the way back in the dark, when the moon is almost full, walking upwards from the quarry along the long band of light, the images return: the huge installation with the bichorus and the idem orchestras as huge sets, equestrian actors, carriage and flat car, moving hedges, back and forth love letters, empty seats, the charming singing orphanage girl, fireworks and the final shot. In the car, dusted by blowing dust particles in the parking lot, there is admiration, also for the huge and well-oiled organization. Cheers!
The next day I discover the YouTube video ‘Freule van Dorth’ by Ubel Zuiderveld, where he tells the historical story and shows the places that Judith van Dorth – also in Winterswijk – visited. “Her shoes have been preserved in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam,” he says. That remark agrees well with the TV recordings that were made during the rehearsals of ‘De Freule’ for the program ‘The historical evidence’, which will be broadcast in the autumn. This raises the question of whether Judith’s blindfold has also been preserved in the Rijksmuseum.
Next year the Quarry Theater will play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The same main characters?
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