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Jonge Harten Festival: “On Ice”

By Demi Wester

 

On Saturday I went to see ‘On Ice’, a performance on an artificial ice-skating rink. But I did not get to see a show full of pirouettes, impressive jumps or lifts. Instead I watched a beautiful, vulnerable and humorous monologue of the Dutch actress Suzanne Grotenhuis at the Jonge Harten Festival.

Last Friday, the 17th of September, the Jonge Harten Festival began. Jonge Harten is a nine-day-long theatre festival in the city of Groningen, with both Dutch and International performances. The festival takes place in almost all theatres in Groningen, like the Stadsschouwburg and the Grand Theatre. The festival mainly focuses on young, talented and extraordinary performers. For more information about the festival you can go to the website: http://www.jongeharten.nl/en/.

Last year I unfortunately did not attend the festival, so I was really excited to get to see one of the performances from the festival last Saturday. At 9 o’clock I walked into the Grand Theatre, not really knowing what to expect. When walking to my seat actress Suzanne Grotenhuis warmly and enthusiastically welcomed the audience. This contributed to the fact that I, as well as the rest of the audience, already liked her character from the beginning of the performance. She was wearing a smoking. I immediately noticed that the décor consisted of a small artificial ice-skating rink surrounded by moving boxes.

Grotenhuis began her performance by putting on her ice skates and entering the skating rink slightly clumsy. She started explaining that she bought the skating rink from the money she got by winning a theatre price. Grotenhuis explained that the moving boxes were there, because she was convinced by an online blog to reduce all her possessions to 200 pieces. It would make her happier. Some of the boxes still needed to be sorted out.

The toaster, the LP and a little music box out of these unsorted boxes led her to tell various stories. I found it very impressive that, these somewhat incoherent stories, never felt random. She managed to combine the beautiful and funny stories in a natural way. Grotenhuis even managed to naturally fit in a magic trick, of which I still haven’t figured our how she did it. This first half of the performance was really funny and light, the audience was really laughing and enjoying the stories.

But, near the end of the performance the atmosphere changed and we found out the real reason why the skating rink and the moving boxes were there. They appeared to be leftovers of a painful breakup. All the stories that were told in the first half of the performance suddenly made sense. The LP ‘Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground’ for example was not merely so valuable because it is part of the Voyager Golden Record and is played somewhere in space, but became a metaphor for the loneliness she felt. Suddenly, all the stories she had told in the first half of the performance made sense from this new perspective and that really touched and amazed me.

I walked out of the performance really enthusiastic about what I had just seen. I had a drink, talked with others about the performance and afterwards went home very satisfied. I had a really nice evening and would definitely recommend you to attend one of the performances of the Jonge Harten Festival this week.

 

  • NNO