Motel Detroit 2
08 Festival

De Telegraaf


by Esther Kleuver

In 2006, Toneelgroep De Appel organized the 06 Festival; for this festival they worked together intensively with South-African theatre producers. This seemed possible to repeat, thus during the 08 Festival the audience is again treated to three totally different productions in one evening. In this, not only an enjoyable interaction between two cultures was created, but also between old hands and young, fresh talents, since the Appel actors are surrounded by drama students from academies in The Netherlands and South-Africa.

For his production Power, young South-African director Jaco Bouwer went to stage with seven students and De Appel actors Geert de Jong, Jules Terlingen and Bob Schwarze. The theatre producer very often works using a hybrid of dance and music and the final result is a proof of that. His performance was made with the guidance of improvisational forms and is rather physical, leaning towards mime. De Jong and Terlingen play an unhappy couple that sit silently at a table, having dinner. There is a wide gap between the two, which is filled with a large amount of negative thoughts, reproaches and memories, acted out by the students. Not all of the young actors have enough capability yet to sufficiently retain the audience's attention without having to overcompensate. This generates an interesting contrast with de Jong en Terlingen that remains interesting to watch, even though they are silent. So, there is still a lot to learn, but meanwhile the students' enthusiasm and inspiration make up for a lot.

Odysseus of Holland is especially written for the festival by South-African theatre producer Mike van Graan. In this play he examines how globalisation and neo-colonialism influence and shape contemporary world. We can watch items occur, such as the urgent demand from our society for integration, but also the fact that the West judges other regimes and constantly forces their standards and values upon others. Director David Geysen began with this material and it caparisoned into a prolonged, rhythmical indictment called Insomnia. Using a stage floor covered with newspapers, Carl Beukman's beautiful music and an almost comic-strip acting (incidentally, performed extremely well by the students, complemented by Hugo Maerten and Isabella Chapel) Geysen proffered up an original and refreshing play.

Absurdist, but foremostly hilarious, Guests by Wannie de Wijn is a drama about lost souls that are confronted with their prejudices, dreams, language barriers, misconceptions and the concept of hospitality. The students are assisted by the comical Judith Linssen and the irresistible Sacha Bulthuis. This must have been an unbelievable opportunity for these students, to work so closely with this calibre of actors so early in their career. Incidentally, these students themselves also provide us with excellent play as an ensemble. They are even offered the chance to let some of their own personality shine through, which looks very promising. There is definitely interesting talent amongst them. It's a shame that at some point, the play gets bogged down in navel-gazing when the students show how things get out of hand during stage rehearsals.

All the same, the sum of these three performances provided a wonderful summer-like theatre feeling, with variety as its magic word. By offering us the 08 Festival, Toneelgroep De Appel generates a very pleasant close to the season. Let's hope that the festival is a stayer!

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