An other world

20 september 2019

Another world

I have been in the theatre industry for over 40 years and I enjoyed every moment of it. Trained by legends like Peter Stein, Peter Brook, Viola Spolin, Lodewijk de Boer and Eric Vos my journey as theatre director and producer brought me besides The Netherlands to the US, Russia, Indonesia, Nepal and African country’s like Marocco, Uganda, Benin and Guinee. Since 2012 I am based in South Africa and had the pleasure to produce and direct theatre shows for Soweto Theatre, PACOFS, Windy Brow, State Theatre and festivals like the National Arts Festival. Almost 3 years ago I was asked by AFDA Durban, a Film and Television school to become the Head of school of the Live Performance department ( Screen acting, stage acting and Music) I thought that my expertise in theatre directing and management would be a good starting point. But that changed when I was asked to develop the screen acting discipline and integrate it with other disciplines in the Film and Television school. I entered a new world where for 40 years I managed to stay far away from. Film and Television, lacking a live audience never attracted my professional attention although I love good films from Casablanca, to Chinatown, Apocalypse Now and The Constant Gardener later. I was and still am addicted to TV series like Braking Bad, Soprano’s, West World and Fued to mention some. Working in the film and television world seemed very technical for me, actors had no control over their performance, no power at all.
To understand the world of film and television I started to interview South African Film and TV actors, producers, agents and directors. I visited production companies that produce successful soaps in South Africa like UZALO and IMBEWU, who attract millions of viewers every evening. It was like learning to walk again and learning Chinese, I had no idea where they were talking about, how it worked and why people were so passionate, dedicated and inspired. Actors had no problem to work daily from 5.30 till 18.00 6 days a week, preparing their scenes in the evening. I met people who loved their work and had no life besides it, I started to be intrigued. What were they doing ? How did they manage to give a believable and effective emotional performance in an industry where time is the devil, or even worse, there is no time, for rehearsing, for a second take or for discussions with a director. How are they able to deliver an unforgettable appealing performance and hold an audience by modulating complex emotional behaviour of a character when put under pressure?
It has been three year now, I learned to walk a bit and speak some Chinese but above that, I think I understand what screen acting is and can be, how difficult it is and how it can be trained with students I see every day. With a team of fabulous staff, international guest lectures and a lot of research I am at the beginning of a journey and although I don’t know where it would lead me to, I love every day of it and will write some columns about it on this side.