If you’ve paid extreme attention to the titles of my blogs, you may have noticed that I jumped from Play no. 6 directly to Play no. 9. This was not a mistake. Play no. 9 was about Bedtime Stories, the play I had written myself. I really wanted to write about that as soon as I had seen the play performed. I didn’t want to worry about the two other plays I had seen before that. I would cover them later.
But somehow they were forgotten. It’s four month later now and I still haven’t written about those two plays. It’s about theme, don’t you think? That’s why today, after already have written about The Forgotten Books and The Forgotten Movies, I will now write about The Forgotten Plays.
Written by: Jibbe Willems
Directed by: Suzanne van Leeuwen
Performed by: Theater GRAS
MAC is a play about a woman who feels trapped in her boring daily life. She dreams about being an American, because in America everything is bigger, brighter and better. In this monologue we see her dreams and hopes transforming into desperation, to the point where it’s no longer clear what is real and what is a delusion.
I had seen quite a few plays in my life already, but never a two-hour monologue. I could not entirely envision how that would be. I was intrigued by it though. What was even more peculiar, was that GRAS had decided to let the monologue be performed by seven women.
On the one hand I would have loved to see this monologue being performed by just one person: sober and simple. This could have been a very strong play that way. But I totally understand the choice for seven actors as well. Seven women could do a lot what one women couldn’t have:
- Emphasize important words by saying them all together
- Play out different characters in the story by actually showing the actions the woman is talking about
- Vary in use of space (standing close together vs. using the entire stage)
- Giving me even more goose bumps by acting out a shocking event all at once.
Especially that last thing was very impressive. I cannot tell you too much about it, without giving spoilers, so let’s just assume it was very powerful to see.
The play was beautifully written. Well, apart from the unavoidable typical Dutch passages of explicit sexual content (again, why?). Jibbe Willems had used the Dutch language in an impressive way. It was very poetic, but not in a way it became annoying. It had beautiful one-liners, real food for thought. And some of these one-liners got extra owner by being said by these seven women at once.
Seven women also had a few cons though, in my opinion. Sometimes I felt they were too focused on style and rhythm, at the expense of true feelings and emotions. When you cannot speak at your own pace, it’s hard to actually feel things as an actor. And in turn it’s very difficult for the audience to feel things as well. And you may know by now that I like to be touched. Whether it’s a book, a movie, or a play, I want to be moved. In this play, it didn’t happen until the end. Yes it was cool, I loved the language, the stylistic way of acting was perfectly directed, but I missed real emotions. Both in the actors and myself. In the end they came, by this very powerful action the actors performed. Maybe because they didn’t have lines at that point. They were quiet and calm and in this silence they did something that would give anyone goose bumps.
This would be a play I would love to see again, performed by different actors. It’s a play that can be performed in so many different ways. I think it’s very interesting to see how completely different it can be. And I would love to hear the words again.
AS YOU LIKE IT
Written by: William Shakespeare
Adapted by: Nicky Ebbeng
Directed by: Nicky Ebbeng
Performed by: Theater GRAS
Rosalind is raised in a castle by her aunt, but is now being banned. Together with her cousin Celia she decided to travel through the forest in search of her dad. To be able to survive in the cruel world of regular people, they are dressed up as men. But then they both fall in love.
The play started before the play started. We were all still in the room where we bought the tickets when one of the actors walked up the stairs before us and read a small passage from a Shakespeare book. One by one the other actors came in and the started discussing about their roles. It was a fun way of entering the theater. After their performance in their role as actors, they lead us to the actual theater hall and the real play began.
I have not read this play, or seen it performed before, so I cannot say how much of the play was original Shakespeare work and how many was adapted. What I do know is that every actor wrote their own monologue. These monologues were performed throughout the play as little intermezzos. Sometimes I thought this was quite annoying, because I was focussed on the story and then suddenly had to focus on something completely different. On top of that, not every actor is a good writer, so the quality of the monologues varied. But sometimes they fit beautifully into the story, or they were so stunning that the entire audience held their breath. One of these was when one of the main characters went behind a keyboard and started to sing a song that was awe-striking.
The play itself… not so much. It was fun to watch, but it didn’t move me. It is a comedy, so obviously I hadn’t expect to walk away covered in tears, but I had expected to at least feel something. I had wanted to walk out of that theater thinking: “Wow, that was awesome!” But instead, I thought: “Hmm… That was okay. Had expected more though.”
Maybe it was because of the way it was promoted. I had gotten the feeling these would all be very skilled actors, even though most of them (if not all) were amateurs. I had gotten the feeling that they all had years of experience and that they would blow me away. But although some of them were really good actors, it was clear that a lot of them didn’t have any previous experience. They were reading their lines more than feeling them, they forgot lines (which is not a bad thing as long as you don’t let the audience know) and I didn’t see them having fun on stage. Result: disappointment and a little bit of boredom at times.
What didn’t help either was that it was LONG. This isn’t a bad thing, but if you’re planning on letting me sit on a wooden chair for two hours, then I am expecting a break. There wasn’t one. My butt didn’t agree. And because of that, it was hard to stay focused at the end.
It wasn’t a complete letdown though. I was very entertained by the prologue in the foyer, I enjoyed the main actors, who played their part well and I was blown away once or twice by some of the intermezzos. I just had hoped to be blown away a bit more.
The new theater season
So now you’re completely up to speed again about my visited plays so far. The previous two months have been very quiet, because in summer almost all theater groups have a summer break. But the new season has started, so I am planning on visiting a lot more theater shows this year. In fact I already have tickets for a show in October. Who knows, I just might get this goal completed before next summer!