Whether or not to sign the statement of loyalty to the German occupiers. That is the dilemma faced by a student group of friends in 1943. They disagree and are confronted with the consequences of signing the statement or refusing to do so. Slowly, the group of friends disbands. This is the subject of the play “Marked” that will be performed in the context of WUR’s centennial birthday from 6 to 9 May in the Junushoff in Wageningen.
Jeroen van de Laar, teacher engineering, visual artist and set designer, and Eva ten Velden, engineering student, were both closely involved in building the decor. They also built the decor in 2015, when the play was performed in Delft.
Puppet as the decor
“In Delft we brainstormed ideas for the decor and came up with the idea a big man, abstractly created in blocks, which slowly comes apart during the show”, explains Ten Velden. At the time, the figure had to be set down on the stage but Theatre Junushoff features a stage with a professional fly system. This allows us to hang the decor.” Eva describes the decor in Wageningen as a kind of puppet, a seated man with loose limbs that is controlled from the wings. Screens behind the props represent the living environment of the students. “The man’s posture is symbolic of students’ situation. In the first act, during the student ball, the man sits upright. With the progression of the acts the man continually collapses onto himself. In the last act, when one of the students dies, the man lies flat on the stage. We will practice with the decor in the Junushoff on 18 and 19 April and are very curious about how it will look.”
This sketched model gives a representation of the decor in the first act.
Constructing and setting up the decor
The decor of “Getekend” is a collaborative project of the director Albert van Andel, Eva ten Velden, employees of the construction company Bouw Service Wageningen (BSW) which is part of the real estate and housing sector of the University Services Department, and VMBO-T students of the Pantarijn school community. The three students assembled the elements of the decor with staff of BSW in a warehouse in the Agrotechnion at De Dreijen. Berry van Brakel (BSW): “The belly of the man is a square of three by three meters and two meters deep. During the show, the actors stand in and on the square, so everything must be put together firmly to ensure safety.”
The “belly of the man” under construction at de Dreijen
On 18 April, the entire decor of De Dreijen will be moved to the Junushoff for the test run with the fly system and to make the final modifications. “The transport is still quite a logistical problem”, says production manager Laura Bonthuis. “Especially since the decor must be moved back to De Dreijen on 19 April. The decor is too big to leave in the Junushoff until the beginning of May. On 3 May, we will repeat the whole exercise one more time for the dress rehearsal with the actors.”
The Wageningen premiere of “Getekend” takes place on 6 May. Nine students and two members of WUR will perform the piece along with four well-known professional actors. The story is inspired by the book “Loyaliteit in Verdrukking” (loyalty in oppression) by the historian Onno Sinke. “Getekend” brings the history of the student resistance in wartime back to life and shows that dilemmas from 75 years ago are still topical. Thanks to the English subtitling, the performance can also be followed for English-speaking staff and students. The production will be performed four times at the Junushoff.