Terug in Amsterdam
As I now wasn’t only working in London anymore, I had been thinking about what the best place of residence would be for me for a while now and in October 2019 I made the intuitive decision to be based primarily in Amsterdam. In hindsight, the timings of this were rather fortunate – this has been a decision made despite any regulations (dare I say limitations) regarding Brexit or familial motivations due to Covid that had later forced many international people out of the country anyways. I’m glad that this agency had serendipitously been kept reserved for me. I’ve certainly experienced differently. After a short stint in Rotterdam, I started out in Amsterdam in February 2020, right before we were all collectively confined to the interior of our houses and laptop screens.
The reasons for going back to Amsterdam were twofold. I had felt that there was incredibly opportunity for immersive theatre work in the Netherlands – truly an untapped market – and I was asked to help out with the early stages of an ambitious immersive project called ‘Hotel Wonderland‘. After many creative sparring sessions it culminated in setting up and facilitating an intimate creative workshop to continue developing the artistic vision for it. Secondly, my work on ‘Gradual’, a tool for intentional learning within communities, was starting to take shape more and more. When my partner and co-founder Philo van Kemenade moved back to Amsterdam from Bratislava I realized that now would be a good time to give this project the attention and dedication it deserved.
In the meantime, the world moved online. “Zoom” became a new verb and “how are you faring” a conversation starter. Though financially and emotionally things were rather distressing, I loved seeing how the world could collectively change course: people and companies massively reinvented themselves. Innovation became the norm. I started an initiative to bring my international network of affected artists and theatre-makers together for a panel discussion and called it “(an optimistic look) On the Future of Theatre”, which featured 3 speakers and 3 performers. It was warmly received and showed me how connection and the nerves that come with live performing do not need to be any less real when inspired virtually.
I also practiced my teaching-bone when I was invited by Andrew Lacanienta, PhD to give a guest lecture at the California Polytechnic State University on ‘The Theatre in Experience Design’. It really helped me to construct my years of thoughts and research on this together and it blew me away when it dawned on me that by teaching something that was still in its infancy, I may have indirectly influenced the future of it by coloring it with my own personal perspective. What a superpower it is to learn and to teach.