I would never have thought my silly idea could turn into a big show, played twice, that I wrote and directed, in which a student from one of Belgium’s finest theatre schools told the audience a story with a strong message about preservation. There was live music, composed especially for this show by young composers from the USA, the UK, Belgium and Norway, and executed by local musicians of my age. There were little dancers who danced on a big stage for the first time in their life. There were big projected illustrations I made, that gave me the idea that maybe I’d like to become an illustration student (which I did, the following year). And there were crazy animal costumes that gave everyone who worked on them the chance to let their imagination run wild and experiment with all kinds of used materials.
We tried to make the show accessible for as many people as possible by making it very cheap to attend, and free for everyone younger than 16 years of age. Unfortunately, there were almost no tickets sold in advance, so up until the last day before the show there was talk of cancelling it. I worried about that a lot, but I really wanted to tell my story so I convinced the people involved to go through with it, and they got no reason to regret doing that. In the end, the number of people attending exceeded our highest expectations. No less than 210 people of all walks of life showed up, sat down in a candle-lit theatre and enjoyed an hour of mixed media storytelling about the relationship between people and endangered animals.
The help of the province of Antwerp and the local youth services made it possible to make the show, and the small fee the audience payed to attend the show went directly to Pangaea projects, helping to conserve the animals and the environment that served as an inspiration for the story.
The day we played the shows was one of the happiest days of my life. What made me happiest was that people I didn’t know, who didn’t have to talk to me about the show at all if they didn’t want to, came over to say that they had been moved by it, that it made them think. That was 2 years ago, and I would probably do things a bit differently if I could do it again, but it was a very valuable experience. The most important thing I learned was this funny little fact: By giving all volunteers the space to bring in their own ideas, skills and creativity, the final show was exactly what I had in mind when I wrote down my first ideas, only better.
- Date: 2010
- Location: Belgium