Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This was our second year in a row to this quirky arts festival in the northeast corner of the Netherlands. It has a very homegrown quality to it, and it's not just about theater and circus and dance and music--there's also a lot of beer drinking and eating going on.
This year we were able to connect with friends and colleagues from New York and see some other shows. The talented Amy Gordon was performing with a pair of remarkable performers from Germany in a fantastically funny show called THE BIG PROBLEM.
Then we got to hang with folks from The Nature Theater of Oklahoma. (Note: None of their members are from Oklahoma. But it's not as twee as it sounds. Their name comes from this great Kafka quote.) We saw their RAMBO SOLO on our final night, which was a fascinating study of one man's obsession with the novel "First Blood" and the movie it was adapted into.
But let's get down to the food, people.
From what I can tell, Holland is basically one big lush farm with a few dots of cities. This means that these people know how to do all things dairy: cheese and yogurt and cream and slag--that's an incredibly thick whipped cream that tastes good on everything. I can't even begin to imagine what a Dutch person would think of our American "creamer." And their bread is pillow soft, which means that we ate a lot of sandwiches (with Groninger mustard).
This is a poffertjes stand. The man is flipping incredibly tiny pancakes that are then splashed with amaretto liqueur and doused with powdered sugar. I don't have a close-up because I ate them too quickly.
But this is the best place to catch a meal--it's the staff dinner. Every day they served us huge plates of hot goodness. I cannot praise it enough.
The other thing they do really well is pack the house. God knows the best thing in the world is knowing that all we have to do is bring the show and that the audience will be there.
This strange little vehicle has two turntables from which records are played and broadcast through the old-fashioned megaphone at the top of the car. It is tended by a woman with long white gogo boots who has to turn herself into a pretzel to fit into the cab. This is a perfect example of the kind of delightful weirdness on display at Noorderzon.
As is this attempt at a sauna.
But an unscientific poll of my fellow visiting Americans showed that these urinals seemed to us the strangest feature of the festival. As evening advanced and the beer flowed, you would often see 4 men using these at once, an image that always made me think of bees returning to their hive.