Once upon a time... How that can roll off one’s tongue with a savor that is like the sun kissing your forehead on a sweet summer’s night, as the glowing orb burrows into its deep red cave in the sky. This is truly storytelling (with properly credentialed and sincere storytellers from the world famous International School of Storytelling). Michael & Caja based in The Hague make a great team telling this story.
Michael Driebeek van der Ven begins A way of Man by giving a brief introduction about the story and the nature of storytelling, including a note that – since the point of storytelling is to help us envision things in one’s mind’s eye – if the audience wants, we are welcomed to close our eyes and no judgements would be made. Van der Ven is also is responsible for the very subtle yet dramatic dimming and brightening of the lights which help us move through the transitions of seasons and scenes and senses.
Caja van der Poel tells us an old story called De Kleine Johannes written in 1886 by a famous Dutch psychiatrist/writer Frederik van Eeden who coined the term “lucid dream”. The English translation is called The Quest and while you can download and read it, truly what you see at this performance is that storytelling truly is an art.
Asalia Khadjé made the beautiful dress that Caja wears in this performance.
This story is sort of like a science-fiction story where humans are the supernatural figure in a way. We follow a young boy who makes his way to becoming a man, with all due reflection and curiosity and bravery that anyone could ask … And a love/hate/respect for Being Human. Johnathan starts as a boy full of wonder. So full of wonder that the fantastic reaches out to him and invites him to be their friend. There is a prejudice against Humans but Johnathan still is curious enough, homesick enough, exploratory enough that he gets sucked back in as a teenager and has to deal with the complexities of learning how to be Human after being a changeling for so many years.
Because of the many influences that the author van Eeden had there are many layers to this story and it is still very relevant today as we traverse the new technologies that make us question what it means to be Human or to “grow up” (whatever that means).
Come see this show while you can, whether young or old, its a moving story that I think everyone needs to hear. And Michael & Caja are some of the most emotive and sensitive storytellers I’ve ever met, and they’ll give you their card at the end to stay in touch. So join the experience while it lasts.
A way of Man
Writer: Caja van der Poel, based on the book by F. van Eeden
Director: Michael Driebeek van der Ven