Here I am, back in Amsterdam.
This time, upon my arrival at Amsterdam Centraal I am welcomed by bright sunshine. But after checking in at my accomodation my zest for action is dampened a little as I find out that the team of Komuna including Iza and Roman are not going to be here until tonight as the new plan for the project has slightly changed.
A whole bus full Komuna//Warzawa artists and even an audience recruited from Poland is on its way from Warsaw to Amsterdam and I will meet them on Thursday morning, so for now I am forced to wait. I will post some more about this exciting new plan later but firstly I want to use the time to go back to what the questionnare and conversations that we had in February with the Het Veem Theatres audiences and the habitants of the Veem building have yielded.
Speaking to the audiences after Rodrigo Sobarzos performances it seemed to me that most of them where artists, dancers or students in either field but, rather surprisingly, for quiet a few of them it had been their first visit to the Het Veem Theatre. When asked why they had not been before, some replied that they didn’t know the theatre or the program but where impressed by the beautiful location and seemed keen to come again. The audience members I spoke to, that were familiar with the venue and the work, pointed out that they enjoyed that the Het Veem Theatre had quiet a unique audience made up of artists, makers and creative minds and that the work programmed was not as commercial compared to the bigger venues in the city centre.
What was also interesting to note was that some visitors had no clue about Rodrigos work but that their reason for coming was based on their past positive experiences at the theatre which led them to trust the choice of the director and team of Het Veem Theatre. I found these comments particularly interesting in relation to a remark made by Bojana Mladenovic, that in programming the work, she operates outside the usual labels that categorize works into dance, theatre or performance pieces. In an earlier conversation with Bojana, she also talked about the notion of audiences spilling over from different artistic disciplines and the fact that some viewers happiliy came without much information about the program, seemed to prove her point.
Nonetheless, trying to investigate wether or why fewer people seem to attend live performances seemed a hopeless endeavor as we where speaking to a nicely sized crowd that had came that night and most of their responses where based on guessing reasons that had also been mentioned by Stephanie Lühn e.g the off center location of the venue.
Aside from speaking to some of the audience at the evening performances, we used the two days at the Het Veem to meet the artists and people working in the neighboring offices and studio spaces in the building.
The conversations that I had with Roman and Iza in between our research ventures, where also guided by the question of the Het Veem Theater being a communal space, partly because the notion of community seems to be an integral part to the Komuna//Warszava collective, but appeared to be missing amongst the habitants of the Veem building.
Talking to the artists in their studios next door we learned that few of them were actually attending the performances shown or had no connection to the theatre and some where even criticizing the lack of cohersion and collaboration amongst themselves.
However it also became clear that everybody seemed to have very different reasons and explanations as to why they couldn’t or didn’t want to find the time to search for closer exchange with the Het Veem Theater crew or go to see some of the work shown there.
Presenting some of our findings to the team of Het Veem Theater at dinner we albeit heard from Stephanie that several attempts from their side have been made to invite and encourage their neighbours to meet and view the work shown at the theatre.
It is also in the midsts of this discussion that I recognize the edges and borders of this project and research venture as I realize that all we can ever gather are single voices, opinions and views, that can hardly be represantive for the rich and deep ecosystem that has sparked the research question to evolve from.
But this is also the reason why I am now all the more excited that the new plan that has been proposed by Iza, Roman and Komuna//Warszawa hints towards a rather tongue-in cheek attitude towards their audience questionaire and the past research phase.