The 10th Delft Festival got off to a fine start last night at the Theater de Veste in Delft to a full house of enthusiastic fans. Of course there were the inevitable speeches, including one from the new artistic director, Tamara Griffioen. “We received no fewer than 285 entries, and all of high quality. It was difficult to choose, but in the end we have put together a program that is as varied as possible with this selection, with something for everyone.” Sentiments echoed by Festival Director Roel Beeftink-Funcken who also emphasized the importance of providing a stage for up and coming new talent.
Out of the hundreds of entries the list was whittled down to thirty. Some of which were included as a taster in last night’s festivities. First up was girl duo Alienated who performed their part dance, part acrobatic piece Carry My Segment. They were followed by a sort of aging camp boy band who performed the all singing, all dancing, all chatting Pussyboys by Tara Reijerkerk.
The interval was an event in itself with the packed foyer being entertained by the Loksias String Quartet, Dystopia, Mirjam Ravier and Simon Granit Ossoina.
After the interval the stage belonged to the star of this year’s Festival, Niek Wagenaar’s, last year’s Audience Prize who was performing his new piece, Nymphs.
We shall be covering several events over the next eight days performed at some twenty-eight hand-picked venues around the town ranging from churches to people’s living rooms.
Our first visit proper to the Festival took us to two novel and interesting locations. A Festival of Whispers by a group of multinational performers calling, themselves the Ear to Earth Ensemble, took place in the old Stadhuis in the Markt. Formed by members of the Ensemble Academy of the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, the group has a collective knowledge and passion for new music and a commitment to musical experimentation. The performance started in the entrance hall where the six young musicians started tapping out a rhythm on stones they were holding. We were slowly led upstairs to the splendid council chamber where we each had some sort of simple percussion instrument with which to join in the act. Gradually they put down their stones and picked up their instruments and for the second half of the performance we were treated to some very nice contemporary music played on a cello, a violin, a clarinet, a flute, a vibraphone and an electronic keyboard. To an extent, the success of such a performance depends on the audience participation. With enough enthusiasm and a sense of rhythm from a willing and talented group of people, something really special and exciting could be created.
The two girls of Alienated – Gádor Lago Benito and Maria Fagundez Baides – presented their Carry My Segment in the tiny but very atmospheric Génestekerk on the Oude Delft. Alienated’s work is characterized by . . . err . . . alienation, in which they place the body in a different context by working with objects. They do this by combining dance with the technique of ‘object manipulation’ making the performance part dance, part circus skills. The action started with them moving on the floor for quite a long period, most of which could not be seen from people in seats at the back. Luckily the second half saw them on their feet performing several moves which involved lifting each other which demonstrated a lot of skill and a lot of strength.
The first Friday of the Festival found us at another fine location, the shabby, post-industrial chic of the Vakwerkhuis, nestling under Sint Sebastiaansbrug beside the canal on the south side of town. We were there to see the excellent Loskias Quartet, which we remembered from their appearance in last year’s Festival. In the intimate setting of the old machine hall the four musicians sat close together, facing inwards surrounded by twenty or so chairs for the audience. Nobody was further than five meters away from the action. It always amazes me what a rich and powerful sound is produced by a string quartet and being so up close and personal, the vibrations resonated through one’s entire body. The programme was chosen at random, from a list of six varied pieces, by the spin of a colour-coded wheel by an audience member. These included the all-pizzicato Simple Symphony: II Playful Pizzicato by Benjamin Britten which was the first piece played. Other pieces included Death of Åse from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite and Andante by A. Scriabin. The playing of the four young musicians was faultless. I loved every moment and could have listened to them all night but I couldn’t help feeling that the contrived business with the colour-coding, and explanations thereof, was unnecessary and distracting.
Florian Slangen, Oscillator at the MicroTheater.
I was/am a big fan of the Theatre of the Absurd to which Mr. Slangen claims to adhere. I loved/love Eugene Ionesco and in particular his play The Chairs. Oscillator was a bit like that, but with fewer chairs.
Jazz Café by the Tappin’It Collective at the Sigarenfabriek
The Tappin’ It Collective is on a mission. Tap dancing is, in general, considered a thing of the past, all top hat and tails or music hall hoofers. But Tappin’It have found a new twist (no, not twist the dance, that really is a thing of the past) and base their cabaret act on clicking their heels and tapping their toes plus a bit of a story line to move things along. Their new show is called Jazz Café and gets its name from the fact that it is set in a . . . err . . jazz café. It starts off with two French maid type waitresses cleaning the table and general getting things ready before the club opens – most of that on roller skate, no tappin’ yet. There are various sequences, not all of which are successful and in general the first half lacked cohesion, many of the little cameos seeming rather arbitrary. The odd bits off scenery were also disappointing and were really a bit cheap and tatty. The second half, when the club was open, included a bit of tassled toplessness and some professional quality pole dancing but it was only when the music started in earnest from the bass, drums, keyboard, trumpet and sax that the tap shoes earned their keep and the show came into its own. Only then did the sparks began to fly from the steel tipped shoes, not literally though.
The Delft Fringe Festival continues until 11th June.