In the Port of Amsterdam….

Unfortunately my connection with the cabaret scene here in Amsterdam is a little off radar. That is one very big sad face. Like Berlin, there are many shows that fail to engage with English presentation. I should not say fail, as it suggests that Dutch cabaret is unsuccessful at meeting English audiences – I am sure they can and quite possibly capable of doing that. However, in my time here, there is only Dutch cabaret performed in Dutch, or American expats performing American comedy cabaret. I understand that they are playing for their local audience and Dutch is their language after all. With German, I could understand bits and pieces of the language. Marry it with gesture and you can pretty much pull together an interpretation of what was being performed. With French, I understood the language and had no trouble at all finding my way around the performance. Dutch is like Maltese for me. A hybrid of many languages. You think you understand one side of the coin, and then bam! You are thrown off completely, and think the tongue is playing tricks on you. My only findings of English language performance is in theatre and the multidisciplinary fields. And then there is music. That good old thing that connects everyone.

I’ve tracked my trip in three stages, and it was by Amsterdam that I hoped to have completed a draft of a show with the help of local directors and writers. My emails to the Amsterdam Kleinkunst Festival (cabaret festival) and the Kleinkunstacademie (the Amsterdam School of Arts Theatre and Cabaret School) have not yet been acknowledged and with four days – a weekend in Amsterdam to go, I feel that I will not meet the expectation I had for my stay here. I do have time. With the rain that constantly slides down the loft window and plays morse code down the pipe that sits above the kitchen roof, Amsterdam has provided me with time to immerse myself in the research I have already sought, and continue now to put it all down on the … Macbook.

Yet, if there is no cabaret (I will not bring english cabaret to the people), I will see as much of the other performances that come in English or mime as much as I like. And music. Music here comes in all shapes and sizes; and in so many glorious venues – with theatre, and art, and media. Heaven!

Last Wednesday night, we ventured off to see “Good Cop, Bad Cop” at Frascati Theatre – the English version. This company have traveled the show to America and Australia. With a recommendation to go, and the upside of being English, we decided it would be worth a night of our stay. To my surprise later, I noticed that Frascati theatre was actually a venue I noted in my diary to check out.

This piece of theatre was…. interesting. It was humorous, to me. I say this because I was one of the few that was laughing throughout the piece. Then again, my humor is that of a strange kind, and maybe the piece wasn’t humorous at all and I am just weird. The performance was movement and video projection; three actors played the part of a pet, confined to a space/set/environment, like a Big Brother complex. They interact with the space and with one another. All word is communicated via the video projection, a parody of reality TV show interviews – the ones that play between the footage, retelling the person’s emotions and intention behind their action/reaction.

I wasn’t too sure if the text was translated from the original Dutch or if the text had been rewritten for an English audience. It’s known that when you translate from language to language, many things become lost, or inexplicable. This is something I have come to understand when translating Brassens’ songs. There are so many French concepts and phrases that an Australian girl does not understand. They are phrases that mean something to a French local, but are worthless or ambiguous to a foreigner. This is where you need a French person to explain the phrase in French, then translate in English, and re-explain what it describes in English. Otherwise you will be reading the translated phrase in a very different tone to how it was originally intended. With all this in mind, there were some phrases or sentences that didn’t quite make sense in the Dutch English version. Maybe in Dutch it did, and then translated, not so much.

It wasn’t a distracting feature of the performance, in fact I think it may have served it’s demeanor. The play was one you needed to enter with a liberated mind, free from analytical desire. You had to absorb what it was  on stage, and let the effect come after. Isn’t this a reoccurring theme? Maybe something that i need to do next week on the plane with Amsterdam and the entire trip.

I’d recommend Frascati theatre; they have three show rooms – always with seasons, or classes. And tickets are very reasonable, whether you are a student or adult. There is also a cafe in the theatre, that when show begins the door slides open and you enter directly into the theatre. Frascati is also on a lane with the Dutch theatre company and few others close by not so far from the Red Light District and City centre.

Tonight, I am heading off to Melkweg (the Milkyway) a famous multidisciplinary house of music, theatre, dance, film, photography and media; in the nightclub, theatrehouse, music district of Amsterdam. Here in the area you will also find, the Sugar Factory and Paradiso – where I hope to escape to Sunday afternoon.

So when cabaret is dry in Amsterdam, there is always music and total theatre that completes me. Enough to feed me in the wee little hours of what remains left of my time in Europe and the cold climate…