It was quite a while since I’d gone to a theatre show. Receiving an invitation from the Amsterdam Culture Club to join one of their gatherings felt like getting a message from a bigger force – introduce cavernous voice here – Wake up Anaaaa. Make your way back to the theatreeee. I obeyed. Spent my uni time studying theatre, after all. Can’t be this long away from it.
The cue was Innenschau by the Jakop Ahlbom Company, at De Meervaart Theater. First, I love De Meervaart. For several reasons: it’s a huge inspiring venue, engaged with the community, far from the city centre crowds, with a high-quality agenda of performing arts. I knew nothing about the show itself and I didn’t read anything in advance. There would be an introduction, especially for Amsterdam Culture Club members, prior to the performance so I’d have the chance to get acquainted with, basically, everything. I also knew there would be drinks and snacks available which is not unimportant a detail in the grand scheme of things. My Southern European roots possibly explain why I cultivate the habit of not disregarding my belly under any circumstance. Otherwise, gluttony will. On top of this, I figured that chances were high I could meet some interesting people there.
I almost felt like a VIP when I arrived at De Meervaart. We had a big lounge just for us and got pampered with drinks. Andreas Fleichmann, the director, was present and told us that De Meervaart is a cultural organisation which is committed to working with the community in Nieuw West / Osdorp, where it sits. Meervaart Studio organises creative workshops, art courses, and group visits to performances, which are intended for schools, youngsters of different age groups, and neighbourhood associations. Later, we were joined by Jakop Ahlbom, who introduced us to what we were about to see on stage. This was a luxury. It is very rare that the public has the opportunity of talking to the director and pose him questions directly or have him give them the context of the work he has created.
Ahlbom’s talk was all the more enlightening as Innenschau was not your traditional theatrical performance. There were no words nor linear plot, but the movement of the performers on stage, working with associative images that appealed to the emotions more than to the logic of a narrative. The bodies of the performers were constantly bridging theatre, dance and mime, to the soundtrack of Alamo Race Track – yes, the rock band! – who were playing live. Innenschau means introspection in German and it presents a love story from the male point of view; an intense love story, haunted by issues with desire, obsession, sex, aggression, jealousy, and the anguish of loss. It was dramatic and humoristic at the same time, a bit like in a Lynch movie – and Ahlbom actually told us that he likes to bring a cinematic feeling to the stage. There was a strong element of absurdism as well, as though we were in a dream or inside someone’s mind, a place where impossible things become feasible, and horrid scenarios might arise. It was a brilliant show from every perspective if you ask me.
Back to the organisers of this gathering. The Amsterdam Culture Club organises outings for anyone who’s into diving into the cultural landscape of the city, more specifically, the performing arts pool. “I’d love to go to the theatre more, I’m just never in the know, and I have no idea where to start”. This is a remark I hear often. Here’s the answer. There’s no fee to become a member (yes, that’s right – niks). You get the info on their programs in your mailbox and enrol whenever you can. Besides the exclusive extras (talks with the artists, drinks & snacks), you get to connect with like-minded internationals, in a relaxed intellectually stimulating environment. “Where do you meet people these days?”, is again a wail I keep on hearing. Isn’t this an appealing solution? Now, take off the complaining jacket and do your part. Join them here. GO.