The Burnt Thicket Theatre is adapting to COVID-19 by offering an online reading of Andrew Kooman’s play, Delft Blue until Nov. 30.
“This reading is not a full production by any means, we wanted to give audiences a taste of this script that we’ve been working with Andrew to develop,” said Burnt Thicket Theatre Artistic Director, Stephen Waldschmidt.
“If we were to offer a public reading, the audience would be in the room, and actors would be sitting around tables. We tried to re-create that through a screen,” he said.
Adding, “We record each actor at their own table with their device videotaping their face. We had the actors spread out in the room, so we were distanced from each other, but we could still make eye contact and have a sense of a live performance.”
Delft Blue tells the story of a Dutch police officer, Machiel, his wife Sophia, and their extended family, who live in Holland in 1940.
“Audiences have really loved it, they’ve called the story captivating and suspenseful, and deeply meaningful for Remembrance Day”Burnt Thicket Theatre Artistic Director, Stephen Waldschmidt
“Holland fell to the Nazis, and this forces Machiel and Sophia into some very impossible decisions, whether to choose between defense, or surrender their quite faith, and unthinkable violence,” Waldschmidt said.
As the play progresses, Machiel eventually has to choose whether he is going to work for the Nazis, or work for the Dutch resistance, while his best friend chooses a different path that pushes their friendship.
Delft Blue is loosely inspired by Kooman’s extended family’s experience. However, none of the characters are biographical.
“His grandfather was a Dutch police officer, and his great uncle experienced hiding from the Nazis because of his work for the Dutch resistance. He remembers different family members stories of starvation, and their enormous relief and joy when Canada began parachuting food into Holland as the allies were pushing the Nazis out,” Waldschmidt said.
Waldschmidt is hopeful that audience members who watch the reading will be inspired to see their own lives with more gratitude.
“Especially given the challenges that we’re facing, it’s easy to focus on the what’s uncomfortable, hard and very dark. Whether that’s situations related to COVID-19 or facing systemic racism that so many people are waking up to in our world,” Waldschmidt said.
“I hope that Delft Blue will inspire people to sacrifice their own comfort and their own convenience for the sake of one another and be inspired to find the courage to work together for the common good,” he said.
Through the readings of Delft Blue, Waldschmidt has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from audiences.
“Audiences have really loved it, they’ve called the story captivating and suspenseful, and deeply meaningful for Remembrance Day,” Waldschmidt said.
“A lot of folks have said they can’t wait to see it live on stage, and many people have said thank you for sharing this,” he added. “It’s been very satisfying to see that people could encounter the story and be drawn into it even though we’re doing this over an on-screen platform, and it’s meant to be live.”
Going forward, Waldschmidt is hopeful to perform Delft Blue live on stage, when it is safe to do so.
“We’re hoping we’ll be able to share some more stories in a similar way assuming the public health situation continues as it is. We’re more hopeful that we can get back into live performance sooner rather than later,” Waldschmidt said.
Delft Blue is available to be streamed on YouTube and Facebook.
For more information, please visit the Burnt Thicket Theatre, at https://burntthicket.com/project/delft-blue/.