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28 April 2020 | Nieuws

The Piket Art Prizes in times of corona (3): Charli Chung

Until 1 June theatremakers, actors, artists and dancers are forced to sit at home. As part of the official measures aimed at keeping the spread of the coronavirus under control, exhibitions are off and performances have been cancelled. What do these measures mean for Piket Art Prizes’ young artists? Part 3: Charli Chung.

Impact of the measures

The tour of Wolven huilen niet alleen, (Wolves howl together), directed by Charli Chung, has been cancelled. “It was terrible to have to tell the actors that they had played the final performance,” says Charli, who was nominated in the Dramatic Arts category last year. “Frascati and I are doing everything to arrange a farewell performance, to have the actors on the stage just once more with Frascati and, if at all possible, in The Hague, too. But we will be unable to complete the tour, very sad, a great pity. Especially because they had just started.” The young director really had a big shock. “It was like a fast train all of a sudden coming to a standstill. The theatre is my life, but now the train has stopped abruptly. It’s a real blow, not only for me, but also or all of my colleagues.” Charli has relatives in Rome. “So far I haven’t had any bad corona news from my relatives, but the situation in Italy is disastrous. For us, Italy is a great holiday destination, but from an economic point of view the situation is very different from ours. We can count ourselves lucky to be living in a country like the Netherlands.”

So what now?

The fact that the train has stopped running provides Charli with opportunities for reflection and rest. “Work is quite often the perfect excuse not to have time for other things. There are hundreds of unread books at home, and I finally have time for them. I think I’ll find wonderful material there. Now’s the moment to recharge my creativity.” Charli can cross the book De meeste mensen deugen (Most people are decent, Rutger Bregman, 2019), the film The Young Pope, and the series The Assassination of Gianni Versace off his wish list. “What happens in the world right now is not what you would call a gift, but I think we may look back on this strange period with something like envy, because of the quiet.” In the meantime, Charli is working on his new performance De Profundis (Out of the depths), a coproduction of Frascati Producties and Toneelgroep Oostpool) based on a long and passionate love letter written by Oscar Wilde. “It must be the longest love letter ever! I’ve read it a number of times and at the moment I’m doing so again.”

Plans for the future

“It’s not that there’s no programming when theatres open up again in the near future. The question is, will people be prepared to go back to the theatre again? I hope they will not be afraid to sit in the house together,” says Charli. “Bringing people together, that’s what theatremakers live for!” Nevertheless, he is convinced that “next year will be a beautiful year for the theatre, especially now that there’s time for tranquillity and reflection. Of course, these are awful times, but I hope we can somehow turn it around to the positive side, and find light in the darkness.”

Photo Hessel Waalewijn

Photo: Hessel Waalewijn