Teacher in times of corona: Joeri van Spijk

Who: Joeri van Spijk, dramaturge and creative producer
Subject: theatre orientation, music history, professional development
Department: Music Theatre

The web series Toen wij de tijd hadden (When we had plenty of time) is about life in home isolation and is filmed completely from home. It went online quite quickly. How did you manage that?
‘Together with actress and director Elène Zuidmeer I had already been doing research into a new combination of various disciplines and media. Such as theatre, film, broadcast, and so on. As “DE VANDALEN” (THE VANDALS) we wanted to make a connection between analogue and digital forms of communication. How can you translate that to an audience? How can you achieve real interaction? When this crisis broke out, we felt it was the perfect time to get started.’

How did you go about it?
‘Every episode lasts around ten minutes and that already takes up all of our time, if we want to make two every week. Especially in the beginning, we had to experiment a lot, also in terms of technique. When you’re doing a musical or play you first wish to make everything perfect and only then take it to a stage. This time, we wanted to honestly reveal the process and make ourselves vulnerable. Art to me is a reflection of your personal experiences. It also fits in with these times: we have to reinvent everything. This makes it real, and it really hits home with the audience. We can tell from the heartfelt response.’

There are more than two dozen actors involved. How does that work?
‘There is no fixed number of characters; storylines emerge and fade out. Initially, there were three of us. When we called upon other actors to join us, the offers started coming in. Which also meant more shared experiences and ideas for the script. At first, we mainly improvised but now we have developed a step-by-step plan for the actors. Each actor is given a script and they record themselves at home. We have a really good editor who then makes it into a whole.’

What can students learn from this period?
‘That it’s very valuable to make your development public at once, as we do with the web series. Vulnerable, and scary, but also fascinating! The audience sees this and grows with you. And: think big! We immediately mailed well-known actors and asked them to collaborate and the response was surprisingly high. As long as you stay close to what you feel, you’ll be all right. Especially in these days you can make an important contribution through your talent. By telling real stories, by providing distraction and keep people’s spirits up.’

Website (in Dutch): www.devandalen.nl/toenwijdetijdhadden