Skip to content

Kwatta bids impressive farewell with beautiful 'Metamorphoses'

We always want to do the best, but usually fail horribly. Whether this is our habitual way of thinking, or whether we owe that idea to Ovid, we will never know. We can say, however, that the literary work 'Metamorphoses', published by the Roman Ovid in the first year of our era, is the single most influential book in Western history after the Bible. If only because it gave us a word for cynical leaders of world powers and their vassals: narcissism.

So good that Kwatta, the Gelderland-based youth theatre company based in Nijmegen, is including it in its repertoire. And even better that director Josee Hussaarts had it adapted by Jibbe Willems, one of the country's most productive quality theatre writers (is that a word? It is now). Willems has mastered language that appeals to a younger audience without excluding the mature part of humanity - if any. He adapted some of the 15 chapters of Ovid's Metamorphoses into an extremely lively and rhythmic text, played by four actors who are very much in tune with each other. They are accompanied by Camerata Trajectina, a club of musicians who have mastered everything from medieval to hip-hop.

Whimsical gods

Metamorphoses, as the word suggests, describes changes that take place thanks to the capriciousness of people and especially gods. A hunter who accidentally sees goddess Diana naked and is therefore turned into a deer by her, or Narcissus, who rejects the love of goddess Echo and therefore falls on his reflection in a pond: none of these are pleasant stories that Ovid gives us, and so in a youth performance, for eight years and above, it sometimes hits you pretty raw.

Actaeon, for instance, that beautiful hunter, who loves his little dogs so much, but becomes prey to their instincts because of Diana's prudishness: as the possessor of two such darlings, this hits me extra hard. Indeed, it is all well told, convincingly acted and staged without too much respect for sensitive children's souls.

Above all, it is a feast of imagination and language, and brought back in me the old desire to find and explore stories precisely in books - not films - that I have never heard of before. In a disenchanted country like ours, not enough writers can defy our youngest imagination, because you take that with you throughout your life.

Vacancy

What we don't include is Kwatta itself, because that youth theatre company that is achieving great international success is ceasing to exist. Internal hassles, conflicts between 'business' and 'artistic' at a time when budget cuts were hitting the province hard anyway. The regional government did not dare to keep the company afloat, also because of the Cultural Council's lack of confidence in it - for business and publicity reasons. So, for the second time this century, Nijmegen's Theatre Het Badhuis is coming up empty, after earlier the equally internationally successful group Teneeter was deemed too obsolete by committees and administrators.

You can argue about the wisdom of such decisions for a long time. What you don't need to argue about is the lesson Josee Hussaarts and Jibbe Willems give us with their interpretation of Ovid. They tell us that while it may make one extremely discouraged that all attempts to make life better are doomed to fail, it is wonderful to keep trying despite everything.

That is comforting. Albeit rather meagre. But that's all we have for now.

Good to know Good to know

Cultural press works differently. You decide what this story is worth!

How nice that you read up to here. You were reading by now stories by this author. Show your appreciation with a small donation!

donation
Donate

Why donate?

We are convinced that good investigative journalism and expert background information are essential for a healthy cultural sector. There is often no room and time for this in newspapers and other old and new media. Culture Press does want to provide that space and time, and we want to keep it that way for everyone. Whether you are rich, or poor. That's why we want to keep this site free as much as possible. That costs money, a lot of money. Thanks to donations of readers like you we can continue to exist, and also realise how important readers think we are. Moreover, we think it is the best possible way to keep journalism independent. This is how Culture Press has existed since 2009: thanks to readers who thus take a little ownership of this indispensable place!

You can also become a member, then turn your one-off donation into lasting support!

Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.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)