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I am happy to announce that my theater group WOW-EFFECT made it to the finals of The Play of Nijmegen! This is an amateur theater contest, hosted by De Verspiegeling in Nijmegen.

The Play of Nijmegen Preselections ~ WOW-EFFECT to the Finals | WOW-EFFECT Theater | Finalists | Theater Contest | Inbetween | Shakespeare

Photo by Ruud Mol

Two days ago I wrote about the first night of the preselections. I was able to watch all the performances of that evening, since our group was scheduled to perform on the second day. I had hoped to be able to see the performances before us as well, but we were too busy preparing ourselves and decided to retract ourselves backstage instead and get into character instead. So I have seen no new plays for my goal and I cannot review the other plays of day two. But that’s all for the greater good, because we managed to make it to the finals!

So instead of giving you a review from the audience point of view, let me share the experience with you from the actor’s point of view.

IINBETWEEN ~ SYNOPSIS

The Play of Nijmegen Preselections ~ WOW-EFFECT to the Finals | WOW-EFFECT Theater | Finalists | Theater Contest | Inbetween | Shakespeare

Photo by Ruud Mol

Shakespearean characters who have blood on their hands will not be sent to heaven when they die. But they also won’t be going to hell just yet. They will end up in a place called Inbetween. This place is the last station before Heaven or Hell. Each of the Inbetween inhabitants has to fulfill an honorable task to be able to get to Heaven, a task that really shows they are pure of heart, despite the things they have done while still alive. If they fail, Hell will be the final destination. However, if they prove to be to be suitable to Heaven, an eternal life in peace is waiting for them. There are not enough available spots left in Heaven for everyone though… The Angel of Death will decide who deserves to go to Heaven and who will end up in Hell for eternity.

PREPARATIONS

The Play of Nijmegen Preselections ~ WOW-EFFECT to the Finals | WOW-EFFECT Theater | Finalists | Theater Contest | Inbetween | Shakespeare

Photo by Ruud Mol

Usually when you are performing a play, every little detail of the play is rehearsed so well, you know not only your lines inside out, but also that of the other actors. Your costume will fit you like a glove, and your character has become a second part of you. You have been looking forward to this moment for many months. The performance is the last part of an incredible journey.

Not this time though. Half of the play is still to be written, the costumes were hold together by safety pins and temporary stitches and the characters are still developing. Our performance on Sunday wasn’t the end of a journey, but the beginning.

It’s a strange feeling, going on stage knowing that the whole play still is in development. For me it meant having less nerves about the whole performance in general, but at the same time feeling less confident about my part. I’m still getting to know my character. I’m still exploring her habits and her quirks and learning about her dreams and goals. I am still busy finding her place in the world in relation to the other characters. Of course I have a general idea about her, since I am writing the piece. But becoming the character is a completely different thing from writing her lines.

THE PERFORMANCE

The Play of Nijmegen Preselections ~ WOW-EFFECT to the Finals | WOW-EFFECT Theater | Finalists | Theater Contest | Inbetween | Shakespeare

Photo by Stichting Kunst & Cultuurplein De Verspiegeling

The stage has a certain magic. Nerves you had backstage instantly disappear. The nerves that are left are transformed into confidence. And every line and movement you suddenly perform better and more powerful than ever before. This stage was no different. I felt my character better than ever and I noticed my fellow actors thrive as well. It was a great feeling, performing our three scenes there, giving our all. Of course it was hard to calculate our chances, since we hadn’t seen the three performances before us that night. But I felt we performed our best out there and the audience’s responses (they laughed a lot) filled me with confidence.

THE JURY’S COMMENTARY

Othello, Lady & Macbeth

Normally after a performance you get an applause, you bow and then leave the stage. This time we had to stay to hear the jury’s commentary though. I had never acted in front of a jury before. Sure, I’ve done a lot of theater sports with judges who assign points, but that’s all for the show. This commentary was real and depending on how much this jury liked us, we were allowed to the finals or sent home.

Luckily, the jury was very enthusiastic. The said they were impressed by the level of acting. That is a great compliment! We have a few actors that had their debut last year at WOW-EFFECT’s first play. One of the actors even had his debut this very evening! I think we may praise ourselves lucky with our director, for being able to unfold these talents in everyone of us.

They also complemented us on the costumes. In fact, we were the only ones who had ‘traditional’ costumes. This made perfect sense, since we were the only team with characters from a couple hundreds of years ago, but still it’s nice to stand out this way as well.

And then they asked if we had written it ourselves. When the actors pointed to me as their writer, the jury looked so impressed. They said it was very well written. It was funny and they were very curious to see how the story would develop. This really was the greatest compliment of the evening. I mean, I had my playwright debut last year. To see my second play loved by three very professional theater people really made my day.

THE FINALISTS

The Play of Nijmegen Preselections ~ WOW-EFFECT to the Finals | WOW-EFFECT Theater | Finalists | Theater Contest | Inbetween | Shakespeare

Photo by Ruud Mol

The announcement of the finalists was the very same evening. They did it on alphabetical order, so if we were one of the finalists, we’d be called last. And indeed, after four other groups, the name WOW-EFFECT was called and we burst out in cheers.

All finalists are:

Esther van der Wel

Ilse Peeman

Karin Verwoert & Michiel Kruidenier

Theatergroep Het Linnen

WOW-EFFECT Theater

I love seeing Ilse Peeman and Karin Verwoert & Michiel Kruidenier made their way to the finals. Ilse was my favorite on Saturday night and I’d love to have a second chance at seeing Karin and Michiel. But of course I’m happiest to see our name in this list!

The Play of Nijmegen Preselections ~ WOW-EFFECT to the Finals | WOW-EFFECT Theater | Finalists | Theater Contest | Inbetween | Shakespeare

Photo by Ruud Mol

I’ll be writing my ass off these next few weeks to finish the play, because we will perform it on November 22nd. That’s eight weeks from now! I will only write a short version though, since we’ll only have 45 minutes to perform. We will develop this story into a big play as well, which we will perform in May. Both plays are complete stories though. The small play for the finals will focus on one storyline in particular, whereas the big play on May will have multiple story lines of equal importance and depth.

Our performance will be in November 22nd at 14:30 in De Verspiegeling, Nijmegen. If you’d like to come watch, please reserve tickets on the website of De Verspiegeling. It’s a small theater, so be fast!

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