STET’s Greenhouse at Hof van Wouw in The Hague

For STET’s Greenhouse 2023  Tom Dello, artistic director of The English Theatre in the Hague, carefully curated a cross-cultural programme consisting of an exceptionally courageous cast. The team of performers made up four acts which migrated across the lovely gardens of the Hof Van Wouw, a tranquil escape located in the crowded international city centre of the Hague, and felt like an hour and a half long warm embrace for human beings from all over.

British-Curaçaoan performance artist Susan Malaika Bailey began by bouncing between song, speech and movement in her uplifting piece named To Ponder or to Wonder, to Worry or to Wander? Susan summoned CS Lewis’ charming character from his seminal work known famously as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as she adorned a white dress and youthful appearance to represent our inner child’s struggle to understand the confusing world of adults. She brought peace and love to the audience through her notion that we are all in a constant state of – becoming.

Malaysian spoken word artist, copywriter and dancer Jowi Len brought the audience onto the garden’s grass in the second performance of the blue-skied afternoon. Jowi read two works written and articulated with such fervour about her experience as a South-East Asian woman grappling with her identity that her generations past could be felt supporting her as the gentle breeze blew. The driving force of Nature’s four elements shined through Jowi’s work since most of her childhood was spent living on an island on the Malaysian coast as she encouraged us all to have more compassion towards each other and our different cultural backgrounds.

Next up were Dutch sign language artists Ellen van der Werff and Brendan Lodder from the poetry foundation known as Kitchen’s Light, who took us into the world of the hard of hearing. Kitchen’s Light is a performance project exploring sign language in the arts and both Ellen and Brendan allowed the audience to reflect on how open conversation and communication are key to understanding others who come from any and all walks of life. It was a very inspiring performance which had the audience raising their hands in silent applause by its end.  

Last but not least, American Allie Summers and Dutch-American Diederik van Waasenaer, whose stage name is Allie & Deets, performed beautiful bluegrass and country melodies together as they celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary. The duo combined the perfectly fine-tuned notes of their voices while switching between playing the violin and guitar in interim. The underlying message of their performance was to encourage all to have strength in the face of adversity. An important and flawless finale for all of the performances that had been and gone.   Eva Lakeman   3rd July 2023