Skip to content

Cultural anthropologist on stage

Treaty of UtrechtMarjolein Jegerings (21) is studying cultural anthropology at Utrecht University and went to Guatemala last year for her undergraduate research on conflict mediation. When she had just returned, she called Anouk de Bruijn her. The director is making the community art project 'Hidden War' for the Treaty of Utrecht. For this, she was looking for people who had been to Guatemala and wanted to play in her theatre production.

,,I am not an actress, but I did play theatre in high school,'' Marjolein Jegerings says. ''That was a fun hobby back then. The advantage is that Anouk always works with inexperienced actors. I was immediately enthusiastic and think it is a great initiative. We will soon play with four Guatemalan players from Caja Lúdica and I am curious to see how they experience it here. And of course I am very curious about the result.''

Because the four players from Guatemala will only come over in the last month, in May, for the final rehearsals and performance. For them, it is their first visit to Europe. The four Utrecht players in 'Hidden War' have all been to Guatemala for their internship, thesis or studies.

In the making

For 'Hidden War', Anouk de Bruijn interviewed the four Utrecht actors about their experiences in unsafe Guatemala. She then wrote a large part of the script. In the play, Marjolein gets a role close to herself: ,,I am the critical anthropologist doing research in Guatemala. That's strange, though, playing yourself. But fortunately I haven't experienced all the stories I tell as an anthropologist myself. I like that. It is easier to present something that is further away from you.

What the play will really look like in its entirety, Marjolein does not know. ,,It is in the making. At the moment, Anouk is back in Guatemala for inspiration. It changes and changes all the time. And when the players arrive from Guatemala later in May, there will be a lot of work to do. That's what you get when you meet your fellow actors only a month before the premiere. We only got to know them through a video they made of themselves. We then sent a video back. So that was a little acquaintance back and forth.''


She thinks the last few weeks in particular will be hard work. ,,It is actually a leap of faith. Based on the stories, we know which way it will go. It's also pretty intense right now. We just finished three weeks with four rehearsals. That was great fun. During those rehearsals, we try out scenes, reminisce and go back to our experiences in Guatemala.''

It changes and changes all the time. And when the players arrive from Guatemala later in May, there will be a lot of work to do.

These were mostly positive for Marjolein Jegerings. She spent two months there in spring 2012. She lived in Santa Cruz del Quiché. ,,Together with another student I lived with a family at home. A big family; every night 13 of us sat at the table. The first evening I was already turning tortillas. That life in that family was stifling at times, because in Utrecht I live on my own and can do whatever I want. But they were very hospitable and I had a very good time there.''

She researched conflict mediation and got very easy access to the people she wanted to talk to. ''All the doors opened for me and everyone took extensive time to speak to me.''


The Central American country is known for its violence, corruption and numerous robberies. But Marjolein Jegerings has not felt unsafe. ,,I only had one nasty experience, with a junkie trying to steal my camera. But other than that, I only heard about violence. What I found most intense were women's stories of domestic violence. That is part of the existence of many women in Guatemala. You don't know what you hear... And because I was researching conflicts, I also heard a lot about quarrels. Especially a lot of small conflicts, like neighbourhood squabbles. You can really see the aftermath of the civil war there. Many conflicts are also about pieces of land taken away by the military during the war.''


In that sense, she thinks 'Bent war' is a good title for the play she will perform in. ,,Because since 1996 there has supposedly been peace. The revolution was supposed to bring more equality, mainly for the Maya, the indigenous people. But little has changed and you see a lot of resignation among the people. They think everything has been for nothing. The social inequality is really quite striking. The Ladinos, the descendants of the Spanish, are still a minority but hold most of the power. The Maya, on the other hand, have little say and live in poverty the most.''

She likes the idea of soon exchanging experiences with the Guatemalans about the country and talking about the country where she has spent a wonderful time. She also feels like acting: ,,I think it's really cool. I always get a lot of energy out of it and I really look forward to performing. But at the same time, I have no ambition to start a career on stage. I will continue with my studies. I am now learning Arabic and want to get my masters next year. And although I would really like to go back to Guatemala, there are still so many interesting countries I would like to visit.''

Madeleine Red

Madeleine Rood is a freelance journalist and writes interviews, press releases and texts mainly for websites, newspapers and all kinds of publications. She has her own text agency, Bureau Rood. She worked at regional newspaper de Stentor for 20 years, 15 of which on the arts editorial board. Her specialisation is thus in cultural journalism. She lives together and has three sons.View Author posts

Private Membership (month)
5€ / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)