The English Theatre in Utrecht. Part 2

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As you will have read last week, I recently had the pleasure of conducting an online interview with Esther van der Werf, one of the founders of The English Theatre in Utrecht.

I wanted to know whether Utrecht inspired her. She responded by saying that Utrecht is a place where she immediately felt at home, she really loves to feel part of the community here as the city offers such a rich cultural experience and is a home to people from all over the world. Therefore, she feels that it definitely is an inspiring place with ambitious people who are willing and able to create great things together.

Working at the Theatre also inspires her and gives her a lot of energy. Esther feels that it is great to see how a group of people that do not know each other, start working together intensively and at the end of the period they have created a fantastic product and they have become a close group, learned a lot about themselves, the others and about presentation on stage.

She knows that as an actor,

“…it is good to get out of one’s comfort zone, to be able to let go of shame, build self-esteem, surprise yourself about your new gained skills, be surprised by the growth you see when observing your fellow actors and just have fun together, lots of fun.”

To me this is an inspirational thought and the theatre can genuinely be seen as a place where people can develop as people as well as actors. This is all about community and the Theatre exemplifies this.

As chairwoman and producer, Esther has learned a lot as well this year. They built this organization all by themselves, saw what worked well and what did not work, learned about finding financial resources, how to work together as a team and how to promote the production and to build a community, all transferable skills that can be used in life.

Back to the city, I asked where is your favourite place in Utrecht?

Esther felt this was a really difficult choice, since there were so many great places. If she had to choose, (and she did) it was the Theaterhuis de Berenkuil. It is the theatre where they performed their first play and created many beautiful memories. They felt at home there right away, spending the whole performance weekend there with r crew and cast. Theatre de Berenkuil is a cosy, intimate theatre in a beautiful, classic building. I couldn’t think of a better place to perform Pride & Prejudice.

She is right, if you know it, better still if you don’t, try to visit, it is worth your time.

I was wondering if Esther thought that the creative arts were important to the Dutch or do they take them for granted. Esther was very open on this,

“The Netherlands offers a rich and varied cultural heritage. I believe the Dutch are open-minded, consider creative arts as important and are often curious to experience different art styles and perspectives. Therefore, I think the Netherlands is a great place for creatives. However, unfortunately, people do not always seem to know that creating art costs a lot of effort and money. It is not easy to be able to run your creative business. And unfortunately, it is still hard to gain a fair income as an artist. Being the girlfriend of a professional musician, I noticed that people often think that artists will just come show up and play for free, because it is “fun to play”. These people have finished studies that take as long as any other study, work very hard and should get paid for their efforts accordingly.”

These views seem to echo those given by Franka Hummels in our interview last week and also to a certain extent those of Marjolein Datema, a volunteer at the Vrouwenbibliotheek

The creative arts are expensive and do at times need subsidy from the municipality or the state, why is this so difficult? The volunteers do a fantastic job keeping the arts alive and relevant for everyone, but in this case especially the English speakers amongst you.
Will you be visiting the new production next year?

What English language performances would you like to see?

Would you like to be involved? Contact the Theatre via their Facebook page.

Let us know what you think.

Tweet us @utrechtcentral

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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