‘I hope the public will come with elf ears’

Jip Smit: ‘Fantasy has an eye for being different, for what falls outside the norm.’Statue of Daphne Lucker

What do you work with?

“Where I am inside Fatherland looking for is a balance between comedy and tragedy. As an actor, I have played in both genres. In the comedy, I often missed the depth, in the story and the characters. And with serious work the willingness to interact with the public. And relativity. In the performance, I examine how humor and tragedy can reinforce each other.”

“Imagination is the basic principle. That’s why I wanted to be an actress, because then you can be anything you want, create worlds. With imagination, you can step out of reality and then see and question it. We so easily get caught up in everyday tasks, and then you lose the feeling that there are people who live in a different way than you do. Fantasy has an eye for what is different, for what falls outside the norm.”

What does the word theater mean to you?

“So imagination. And also connection. For me, it is essential that theater is something you do together, that the audience is involved in what is happening. In my performance, I try to make the distance as small as possible, in order to break through the fourth wall. Literally start the conversation. I want to provide a safe place where you can be who you are. And from there create situations where you challenge people to push the boundaries of their imagination.”

How do you hope the audience will step in?

“With electric ears. But even if you don’t like fantasy, you are very welcome. I especially hope that people are open to anything that can happen. Although it’s mainly up to me to get people where I want them. I’m the horse tamer, so to speak. A better question might be how I hope they leave: open, empathetic, their imaginations fired up.”

What inspires you?

“I read a lot. Literature sparks your imagination. Recently I read Alexandra by Lisa Weeda. Despite the serious subject matter, the format of that book made me happy. That someone is not afraid to address the reader in a way that we are not used to in literature. Also a movie that Everything, everywhere at once, inspires me because it challenges the viewer to accept the most absurd things. I like art where you really feel the artisans.”

“I also like walking, it triggers something in me that makes it easier for me to get ideas. If I don’t go too long, my head gets stuck.”

What recent performance has moved you?

Schrödinger’s dog by Kim Karssen. It had exactly that combination of humor and yet telling a very meaningful story that I admire so much. How she walks that line in between, tells something that moves and yet also finds room for pop humor in there, I think is very clever.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“I hope to have expanded the Jip Smit Foundation. I already work with some amazing people, but I hope we can grow and then get our own place. An office and a rehearsal room.”

“If all goes well, the universe will go off Fatherland then expanded. This performance is the first part, part two will be released in 2024, which stands on its own. Then I might want to play it as a marathon show with a dinner served with strange food that they eat in that world. I also want to make a cartoon. The good thing about theater is that you can offer the audience space to create their own images, but actually I also really like to do it myself.”

Motherland (part 1) will premiere on October 19 at Het Motorblok in Zaandam. Performance dates Amsterdam: 5/11 Theater de Griffioen, 13 and 14/12 Theater Bellevue. Go there if you like: The Office, board games, Game of Thrones and cheese.

The Young Makers series

In the Young Makers series, we introduce budding theater makers. Jip Smit (1990) graduated in 2012 from Amsterdam Theater and Kleinkunstacademie. As an actress, she was often seen in the theater and on television. In 2020 she won the Best of Fringe Award with try-outs of her solo performance Fatherlandwith which she makes her debut as a theater maker.

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