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Festival ‘Stories on board’ in Museumhaven on 27 August

By Sander Grootendorst

ZUTPHEN – ‘Stories on board’, the annual storytelling festival in Zutphense Museumhaven, could not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to corona. “I was already called by someone who asked if it will take place this year,” says Gery Groot Zwaaftink, one of the narrators. The answer: yes! On Saturday, August 27, eight ships will be manned and manned by as many storytellers.

The question to Groot Zwaaftink had nothing to do with corona, but with the drought. It’s actually the first thing you notice from the cycle path above the dike. There is almost no water left in the harbor and the Broskibet has completely sunk. The Vordense narrator points down from the bank: “There are still some fish swimming, can you see?” Together with his Zutphen colleagues Jan Alfrink and Ron Vernout, he is today – in the middle of the heat wave – a guest of Nelly van de Velden, owner of Brugschip from 1896. Talk about the storytelling festival. “Hopefully it will rain heavily before August 27,” says Van de Velden. “A lot has to fall,” says Vernout. The words sound darker than the actual mood on board. Storytellers know better than anyone how much stories can bring comfort and wisdom.

The meeting in the crooked ship has something comical, something cinematic. “Whoever comes aboard here must have sea legs,” says Alfrink. And Vernout jokes: “It will all be oblique stories this year.” Meanwhile, he himself has decided that he will abandon the planned story of King Midas and choose an adventure with a current character. To which the audience can contribute actively. Maybe by doing a rain dance together.

Groot Zwaaftink has decided to tell a story that shows that even one person can do a lot to make life on our planet much more pleasant. Without revealing too much content, Alfrink will say that he and his wife Gemma have a puppet show in the works, titled The boy who goes out into the wide world. “Nature also plays a role in that.” The narrators emphasize that all stories are for all ages this time as well.

What the other five have to say to the audience is yet to be seen. During the consultation, the ships and the narrators are already attached to each other. Vernout chooses Vleermoes, Alfrink for Allegonda, Groot Zwaaftink will show his skills at Walravina. New in the harbor and therefore at the festival is the ship Op Hoop van Zegen. (For a moment one is tempted to read ‘Op Hoop van Regen’). A story takes place in the wheelhouse, with no more than ten or twelve listeners around. The other ships can accommodate around twenty people at a time.

Carefully determine which ship is best suited to which narrator. Henk Mennes is awarded the Broskibet. “He is the tallest of ours, so you can attribute the sea legs to him.”

Four storytellers can be mentioned: Hanna’floor de Roos, Marjo Dames, Ailun Elzenga and Wim Wolbrink. “Everyone with their own storytelling style,” says Groot Zwaaftink. Jan Alfrink adds: “One with big gestures, the other with smaller ones.”

Van de Velden: “With this low water level, you also have the opportunity to tell your story on a beach. Or part of it.” This immediately gives Vernout an idea: “Maybe we can do our rain dance there.”

Stories on board. Museumshavn Zutphen, Saturday 27 August from 1pm to 5pm. Each story lasts approximately thirty minutes. Sometimes it takes fifteen minutes to get from one ship to the other. In practice, this means that the audience can sit down with four narrators of their choice. There is free entry. Free donations are welcome. There is a hat on board each ship that can hold the money (cash please!). The Daily Existence Foundation provides the catering.

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