September 4, 2009

Plight of Senegalese fishermen depicted in classic Dutch play

Filed under: Literature,Shows by Branko Collin @ 3:19 pm

A play set published in 1900 about the plight of Dutch fishermen, which was adapted for a modern context in Senegal, is returning to the Netherlands this month with Senegalese song and dance left intact, and with Marisa van Eyle as a Dutch narrator.

Op Hoop van Zegen (The Good Hope) is a play by Herman Heijermans about the eponymous fishing ship, its owner Bos and the brothers Geert and Barend, who know the ship is not seaworthy, but still sign on as sailors. The brothers then die when the ship sinks during its last voyage. The line “de vis wordt duur betaald” (the fish is dearly paid for), with which Kniertje, the mother of Geert and Barend greets the news of the death of her two sons, has become a saying in Dutch.

The Senegalese version, called Dieuna Diaffe in the Wolof language (Expensive Fish) and with Senegalese star Marie Madeleine Diallo as Kniertje / Yaye Cathy, was performed in 2007 and 2008 in the coastal cities of Senegal. It was adapted by sociologist Maaike Cotterink and directors Anna Rottier and Pape Samba Sow.

According to Cotterink in Trouw (Dutch): “These days, Senegalese fishermen are hired to work three months in a row on Korean and Spanish boats. Far from the coast they are put to work under horrendous conditions for 16 hours a day. Each year fishermen die, but they have little choice, as they have to support their families.”

The play will be performed this weekend in Amsterdam as part of the Fringe Festival, and next week in The Hague.

If you are unfamiliar with Heijermans, has an English adaption of one of his other plays, The Ghetto.

(Source photo: Theatre Embassy)

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October 19, 2008

Second Dutch Project Gutenberg sampler

Filed under: Art,Literature by Branko Collin @ 8:36 am

I decided to make another Nederlandse Project Gutenberg Reader, containing the Dutch books that were released in the past month at the internet library. Once again you can find it at Brewster Kahle’s excellent Internet Archive.

Since the past month was a bit quiet with regards to new releases, I decided to add a couple golden oldies. The new releases were Jacob Cats’ Spaens Heydinnie and Shakespeare’s Twee edellieden van Verona. Cats was a moralistic writer from the Dutch Golden Age. Spaens Heydinnie (Spaans heidinnetje, Spanish gypsy) is a reworking of Cervantes’ La Gitanilla, in which an infant girl of noble birth is kidnapped and raised by gypsies. The third release last month was a lecture held in 1840 for the Frisian Association, which I find wholly uninteresting, but I am not going to be all judgmental about your kinks.

I added two extracts from older works. The first is a travel account of the Netherlands, Door Holland met pen en camera, by the French journalist and photographer Lud. Georges Hamön. Let me translate a bit for you:

One has to keep in mind though that Holland is a desperately flat and monotonous region, that it does not spark any fierce emotion, nor does it lead to excited enthusiasm or even quiet inner delight. Holland is the land of serenity, where one submerges in the calmest comfort.

The opposite of calm comfort is Herman Heijermans’ Diamantstad (Diamond City), a novel about and an indictment of the poor living conditions of the inhabitants of the Jewish quarter in Amsterdam around the turn of the century. Earlier I sort of translated the fragment I quote in the reader over here.

Photo of Father Kick in quiet contemplation by Lud. Georges Hamön. See also the first Dutch Project Gutenberg Reader.

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