Dutch on Stage 2024: EGEL (the longing of) HEDGEHOG

We zijn los! Our first rehearsals for EGEL (the longing of) HEDGEHOG, this year’s Dutch Play, have been productive and fun. Cat George reports on our progress.

A group of abour 16 people all holding a white sheet of paper which is clearly a script

What a turnout for the first meeting of eager participants wanting to partake in this year's Dutch play! EGEL (the longing of) HEDGEHOG – is based on a story by famous Dutch children’s author Toon Tellegen and adapted and directed for the stage by our very own Filip De Ceuster. 

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half of the image is 3 students acting and the left handside is the play's poster with the title Egel (the longing of) Hedgehog
EGEL takes shape

With less than two weeks until the performance of EGEL (the longing of) HEDGEHOG – this year’s Dutch performance – our weekly rehearsals are really starting to bring the play together. 

group os students standing quite close together looking quite stern

Meeting for a few hours each week, the cast and crew of het Nederlands toneelstuk have been working hard: learning lines, blocking scenes, curating costumes with Theo to embody the gezelligheid of woodland animals in a forest, thinking tech with Aggie,... 

The play is a highly collaborative process, with everyone welcome to chip in with ideas and suggestions, and each week it becomes more and more developed as we get a feel for the characters and how they act. 

In last week’s rehearsal, we successfully had our first dry run through of the play, and what a joy it was! With props in hands – ranging from paper planes to knitting needles – and further additions to the script and stage directions as we went, the story of Egel truly came to life in front of our eyes. 

Three people with big scarves on showing off the home knit and crochet squares

From a technical standpoint, Aggie and the behind-the-scenes team have been visiting the theatre to look at the lighting, sound and scenery. We have had an amazing outpouring of support in the form of handcrafted squares from all over the Netherlands, Belgium and even the Dutch Caribbean! A square from Bonaire! They are currently being sewn together to create a colourful patchwork backdrop which we now refer to as our Lage Lappendeken! The deadline for submissions has passed unfortunately, but we received more than enough lapjes to go around! Dank jullie wel iedereen! 

There is only one more rehearsal to go before we move it into the theatre for our technical run through and our dress rehearsal, but the cast and crew of Egel are well on their way to our final product. We could not be more proud of the hard work and commitment of everyone involved. Goed gedaan, mensen! 

Group of people standing in a line with two students in gthe foreground, one clearly speaking

Full of laughs and heartfelt emotions, and performed both in Dutch and English, this performance is one not to miss! Buy your ticket from the link below, and we hope to see you at the Drama Studio at 19:30 on the 19th of March. Tot dan!

Cat George

Getting to know EGEL

After navigating through the long corridors of Jessop West to find the smaller than expected Seminar Room 1, we piled into the room, sitting on top of tables and wedging ourselves into corners. Filip briefly introduced the play and what it was based on, then turned the focus to the future actors, encouraging everyone to introduce themselves in Dutch, provoking a laugh when a confused Spanish student realised he was in the wrong room! 

Alongside the Dutch language students, who ranged from first years to masters students, the meeting was graced with the presence of our Artist in Residence, Dutch cabaretière Paulien Cornelisse, and her husband Chris – host of the popular podcast man met de microfoon.

Three young women acting a scene, reading the script
Katie, Elsa and Freya rehearsing their scene

Toon Tellegen

Advanced Dutch students were familiar with Tellegen’s story, as we have been reading it in our classes. The play is also interwoven with a well-known Dutch song (Ik heb een man gekend, by Yentl en de Boer), and the Dutch children’s book Waar is mijn noedelsoep? which the second year Intermediate students have been working with in class.

Then we jumped right into a read through of the initial script, people reading lines at their will, apart from a few nominated roles and cameos from various students, such as the president of the Nederlandse Vereniging (NV) - the Dutch Society - already written in. We were introduced to the ragtag cast of animals, and of course the eponymous Egel, as he battles with his feelings of loneliness and anxiety around inviting other animals over for a visit. 

We shared our thoughts on the script and any adaptations we thought were needed. The Dutch play is a very collaborative project: everyone is invited to participate in the creation of the story, adding bits of their own. After a few suggestions, we moved away from discussion of the script and towards a discussion of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the play. Publicity roles, costume design, staging, filming, blog-writers and other voluntary roles were put forward for those who want to be a part of the ‘toneelstuk’, but would rather be off-stage. 

Quilt-style backdrop

on a train: two students in the foreground crocheting and 2 other looking form behjind the second row
Even on the train Theo and Rachel are crocheting. In the background Rebs and our reporter Cat

And then something about the set design: a quilt-style backdrop made up of large squares, handcrafted by anyone willing to participate, whether knitted or crocheted, as long as it is crafted with love. The NV have started running dedicated craft sessions and we encourage anyone who crafts and wants to contribute to the play to also make a square – sized 35cm by 35cm – and to get in touch with Filip or Yeti to find out where to send them. 

Voilà! That was our first official meeting for the Dutch Toneelstuk. A stream of excited students filed out of the cramped little room. Now we can begin to start practising lines and mapping the performance out for the stage. Spannend!

Tot volgende week!

Cat George

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