Taxi to the airport at four this morning. There was a one-and-a-half-hour queue for security followed by a dash to catch a flight to Schiphol. Manchester Airport is awful. There is something about the Netherlands that removes the stress as soon as you touch Dutch soil. It is clean, polite, organised and fair. The staff at Schiphol smile and don’t bark at you – everything seems to work as it should. The train station is underneath the airport – on hand where you need it to be. An app tells you everything you need to know about times and platforms. Today on a comfortable two-hour trip to Leeuwarden, I joined a Zoom meeting using the train wifi, which worked. A change of train to Harlingen Haven, then a leisurely lunch in the sun as we awaited a ferry to Terschelling island. On Terschelling, hire bikes were waiting for us along with a van to take our luggage to our hotel. We arrived about twelve and a half hours after leaving home. We’d managed planes, trains, automobiles, ferries and Fietsen (bikes).
I’m here with the artist, Parvez Qadir, for the Site-specific theatre now: UK / IE / NL symposium, which is part of the Oerol Festival ‘22. A fantastic annual island take-over of the best location theatre from across the Netherlands and Europe. Culturapedia was invited along with about ten other UK organisations to take part.
A quick freshen up and a cycle dash for introductory drinks, then dinner at the impressive festival staff canteen before being taken to a remote farm under the thousands of acres of sky covering the beguiling islands of the Friesan coast of the northern Netherlands. Our bikes rested with hundreds of others as we were led into a modern open working barn. Sheep were penned at one end, straw bales and agricultural clutter at the other. In the middle was a set and scaffolding and planks assembled into raked seating for 200+ people. (UK Health and Safety officers would have had kittens.) The show was called Exit by Circumstances / Piet Van Dycke. Four male dancers and six doors. I sat on my bit of plank; I’m sure there were far more people there than they panned for, transfixed for over an hour. Four ordinary-looking blokes (no offence) and a mixture of confusion, frustration, slapstick, ingenuity and shared challenge. Superb. I can’t believe that the rest of this Symposium can live up to that – but I hope it does.