I escaped the hostel this morning, and my new roommates, espousing at great length and volume about the wonders of what an Amsterdam stripper can do with a banana, and made my way up to the Concertgebouw for their free Wednesday lunchtime concert. One of my roomies commented that I was having perhaps a slightly more cultured trip than them. I think he might have been right.
As warned by my bike tour guide, the core of their audience did appear to be the well healed retired ladies of Amsterdam but they looked around them, like the staff, apparently bemused at the number of tourists joining them.
The performance was given in the small concert hall or Klein Zaal, a beautiful concert room, fully seated with a small balcony. I was both amazed and impressed at the apparent lack of staff intervention into the entire process. The box office was not open as the event was unticketed. The old ladies of Amsterdam instead simply jossled and elbowed their way past us tourists on the way into the hall, which did not appear to be stewarded.
The concert itself was a nice collection of pieces from Ravel and Schumann performed by two young ensembles from the Prins Claus Conservatorium Groningen.
I made my way from the concert hall, back across the front of the Vodelpark, to the Theatre Bellvue. The majority of the International Theatre Schools Festival only really kicks off once I have left, the programme having had its opening night last night, and I was particularly dissapointed that all of the musical theatre is scheduled from Saturday onwards. I booked a ticket for a performance of a co-production between Maastricht and Manchester University called I’ll Be Gone, the only piece performed in English with a performance time which suited.
I filled my afternoon with a wander around the suburbs of the Old Jewish Quarter, sitting in a cafe to crack open Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin.
Having a few hours to spare, the Dutch football being on and dominating the middle of town, I decided to go on the Heineken Experience.
Combining a tour of the old Heineken brewery in the centre of the city with galleries of company memorabilia the experience was part educational, part entertainment and part indocrenation into the Heineken brand. The highlight of the tour has got to be the 4D “we brew you” ride where you follow the brewing process from the beer’s perspective, guided through the kettles and casks all the way to the bottling plant and the club beyond.
Much in the same way that the UK has adopted the curry as its unofficial national dish, the intercultural bonds having been formed through colonialism, so the Dutch have Indonesian food as their take away ans restaraunt dish of choice. I tried some take away Indonesian for tea tonight, sitting on the edge of a canal to consume my purchase. I was increadibly grateful to the very patient Dutch girl who sold it to me, I was not only struggling with the intrecacies of a Dutch/English menu and shop signage but also having absolutely no idea of what any of the dish name were or how to pronounce them. I finished off my traditional Dutch feast with another Dutch favourite, the waffle which I picked up from a bakery on the way to the theatre.
The peformance the Maastricht and Manchester students presented is with was an interesting piece of performance art. Working with a large greenhouse centre stage four male and one female actors created some really nice images, blending increasingly abstract pictures of fallen angels and the apocolypse. Their use of projection was nice, with the piece’s blurb talking of the directors wish to experiment with actors replaced by virtual counterparts. There was also some really nice use of lighting and minipulation of the set. Having sprayed the entire back and front walls of the greenhouse completely in paint the team both lit it inventively and created writings and abstract pictures in it through more physical theatre.
The performance was slightly let down through its apparent quest for narrative. Throughout the piece contained Voiceover from texts written by the cast neither these short monologues nor the musical choices seemed to be original, and although the project had obviously brought together actors and theatre makers from across Europe the voice that the combined voice that they chose to expess came across as cliched in places and confused in others.
In a post show discussion, thankfully conducted in English, the cast said that during their 8 week development and production process they had studied films of an apocolyptic genre, maybe that’s where the tired lines and notions came from, someone elses notions of the end of the world. The other area of interest from the post show Q&A was the notion that the Manchester students worked in a contemporary theatre setting, seeing their European partners more as performance artists. Maybe this was where the narrative attachment came from, with events on stage apparently attached to times and places in the voiceover, sometimes confusingly chopping and changing from a linnear progression along the timeline.
This post was written and edited using nothing but my iPhone whilst on holiday in Amsterdam. For a week I kept a daily blog, experimenting with creating web content on the move. You can read my thoughts on the experience in this blog post.