Theatre Exhibition SLAVERNIJ MOMENT NU/ SLAVERY MOMENT NOW
NDSM-Werf, Amsterdam-North, 22 August – 7 September 2003
Slavernij Moment Now was a contemporary theatrical exposé on the history of Dutch slavery. In a three-hour ‘journey’ along with musicians, dancers, video installations, a television programme, storytellers and actors, the audience experienced the personal stories of the slave traders, the crossing by ship, the hard work on the plantations, the Dutch forts as anchors on the African coasts and entrepreneurship in Zeeland.
Director Berith Danse and Producer Guilly Koster were especially interested in the individual stories, the acquaintance with people from the past and present from Africa, Surinam, the Antilles and the Netherlands. They used the historical data as a guide for our present and as a building block for the future.
Danse went on a search for the descendants of slaves and slave traders. She met the Marron communities, the descendants of African slaves who had fled, in the interior of Suriname. She felt the oppressive silence of the Gate of No Return at Fort Elmina in Ghana. She talked to artists in Senegal about the controversial slaves and entered the cellars of the Zeeland archives.
The performance began as a journey to ‘Fort Amsterdam’. A parliamentary inquiry took place in a live TV programme, with Gerda Havertong as Elisabeth Samson, Ivette Forster as committee chairman, Theo van Gogh as Stuyversand, Johan Stekelenburg as a member and Howard Komproe as Ashanti king, among others. On arrival at the Fort, the audience experienced a large square offering and stepped through the Gate of Return. The ‘Fort’ consisted of five rooms where different scenes took place with different themes. One heard the slave songs from the Du-play, rewritten by Thea Doelwijt, discovered the secret of the escape route of the Marrons, looked into the kitchen of the cruel plantation owner Susanna de Plessis, and was carried away by the rousing dance of the Senegalese Kakat’Art Dance Company. After a dazzling performance and impressive images, we bid farewell to this fraught period on the ship, and stand hopeful for today’s society.
NDSM-Werf in Amsterdam-North from 22 August to 7 September 2003.
Collaborators of the theatre exhibition:
Direction/Artistic direction: Berith Danse
Du-Play, writer: Thea Doelwijt
Caroline van Leerdam
Vocals: Surinamese women’s choir Miti Makandra
Producer: Guilly Koster
Production Manager: Michael Kamp
Directing Assistant/Writer: Miluska Birge
Historical research: Dienke Hondius
PR & Communication: Karin Sligting
Office manager: Marjan de Blok
Set design/Build: Bartel Meyburg
Print design: Marvin Fernandez / Flevodruk
Television programme: Guilly Koster & Sabine de Tonnac