I’m sorry for being so quiet this month. It has been a month full of stress, worries and hospital visits, so unfortunately blogging had to wait for a while. But as you may have noticed last weekend, I’m back! In my monthly update of November, I already told you about a very special play I’ve seen on November 29th. I’d like to tell you more about it today! (Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures by the way. It was dark, I only had my phone to shoot pictures with and I didn’t want to take up all my time photographing, because I was so mesmerized by the whole evening.)
The play I went to see was called ‘Nuilen1’. Nuilen is a word from the dialect of Nijmegen (the area in the Netherlands I live in) and it means ‘to nag’. The theater group performing it was DIS.
This play really was something out of the ordinary. I’ve seen or even done a lot of theater performances before, but never something quite like this. The play wasn’t performed in a theater or even on a stage, but in Kronenburger Park, a beautiful park in the centre of Nijmegen. This park is build around a part of the old city wall and two ancient towers. I’ve seen these towers a lot during my summer walks through the park, but I had never been inside of them. Until this evening.
For the first part of the evening, which was the actual theater performance, we were expected in the St Jacob Tower. We entered through a very small corridor and ended up in the middle of the tower. It was a small round room, with two little alcoves on the sides. In the middle of the room, there was a big hole surrounded by a fence. There were no seats, so everyone was standing in a circle. Then one of us appeared to be one of the actors! He started talking to us and it became clear this tower was the home of his character Wilco. It was as if we were all in this play, as if we were part of this other reality, which was a very cool experience. It seemed we were paying this man a visit in his home and he was telling us his life story.
To illustrate how much we were actually involved in this play: At one point, Wilco gazed into the depths of the hole in the middle. We were so curious to see if something was really there, that we all followed his gaze. And surprisingly, we saw a whole living room downstairs with a woman sitting there! After this, Wilco walked to the stairs and beckoned us to follow him. We ended up in this very living room, were we watched the rest of the play.
Have you gotten curious about the story already? Let me tell you then! Wilco’s life story resembled that of Robin Hood. He stole from the rich and gave to the poor. But what he gave to everyone else, he couldn’t give to the love of his life. He wanted to give her a castle, but all he could offer her was this cold small tower. He couldn’t see how she would stay with him, with no heating to warm herself, no hot bath to relax in and no marble floors to see how much she meant to him. What Wilco didn’t realize until the end though, was that he had given her the best he could ever offer: himself. While this may seem like just another love story, it really wasn’t anything like that. The clever use of the location this play was in, the way Wilco interacted with us and the way the chemistry these two actors had, made this performance a stunning experience.
After the play, a man with a lantern awaited us in the park. We had to follow him, so we did. In the distance, we could hear some beautiful accordion music playing. This music got louder while we were walking further into the park. The lantern and the music in the background gave our walk a bit of an enchanting atmosphere. Lantern Man stopped at the Kronenburger Tower. Inside, we got to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea while a city guide told us about the history of this tower.
When he finished, we were lead to another room in the tower. There we finally could see where the amazing music came from. The accordion was played by a young woman. She was accompanied by a young man playing the guitar. As we stepped inside, they started singing as well. Their music resembled that of ancient troubadours. It really made me feel like the middle ages had come pay us a visit. Trough the lyrics of the musicians, they told vivid stories about inhabitants of the city of Nijmegen.
They were not the only ones telling stories though. Two men in the profession of actual storytellers started telling tales about some famous people, heroes even, in the history of our city. They told these stories so vividly, it was as if we were there ourselves.
I must say, this was the most special theater performance I’ve ever been to! I’ve visited two ancient towers, got to walk around in the home of the characters of the play, made a walk through the park following a lantern guy, was mesmerized by beautiful troubadour music and listened to some great tales about the heroes of Nijmegen. If this group is performing another project in the future, I definitely want to go see it!