Unpacking the 3Package Deal: Liliane Brakema & Gerson Main
This year, we’ll be catching up with the fifteen eclectic, genre-bending participants of the 3Package Deal 2016 as they work on their craft and prepare themselves for their final presentations in the wide-ranging fields of visual arts, fashion, film, theatre, urban dance, social design and even olfactory art.
On a sunny winter’s day in the Vondelpark, we spoke to theater director Liliane Brakema, whose latest play Face to Face (after Ingmar Bergman) will premiere at Bellevue on 10 May, and musical wordsmith Gerson Main, who’s about to take the leap from music to theatre in his show Ga Weg, Maar Blijf, which will be playing at Oerol this summer.
1. The process
L: What kind of music do you make?
G: I like to call it Caribbean Country. Or poems for dancing. It’s quite open.
L: I’m in the business of spoken theater, but I want images, music and movement to create an atmosphere in which the lines can arise.
G: It always starts with sound. I need a flow first, lyrics come after.
L: Sometimes people ask me about a title when I’m not ready and I always tell them: I’ve got the image here in my mind but I’m still searching for a title. They act as if it’s the weirdest thing.
G: How’s working with your composer?
L: Sometimes he’ll come up with something and I’ll ask him to bring me the exact opposite. It must be a total nightmare for him.
G: Other people can turn your ideas into something great. Hesdy Lonwijk is helping me with my play. He understands the political part, and he knows how to bring a message across. He pushes me to stay real.
G: I was playing everywhere (after De Beste Singer-Songwriter van Nederland, red), but I realized that my own vision and how I want to express myself are much more important to me.
L: Success is a good thing but there’s also a sense of pressure. Because now, I’m sure I’m overrated. If I fuck up twice no one is going to remember me.
G: My next album should be so perfect it could be my last. I’m fascinated by the thought of death.
L: So when it’s done, you’re done?
G: I could be. And it won't be till I’m gone that the people who never got it will appreciate the quality of the music.
L: Every plays feels like it could be my last: this is what I want to say, afterwards I’m done talking. But then something new comes along and I’ll think: ok, just one more, then I’m good.
G: I'm always looking beyond mere survival, at what else is there.
L: If I were only in it to survive I’d be working at a bank.
G: Do your plays get better with time?
L: If I want to keep trying new things I’m also bound to fail.
G: What is failure?
L: When it doesn’t gel. Or something I want but no one else understands. Johan Simons is my hero, and he creates absolutely wonderful and absolutely horrible stuff. He’s 70. He knows that’s what happens when you take risks.
G: Is failure not being able to move an audience?
L: It could be, or it could have to do with the fact that I know where I want to go, but I don’t know how to get there. I wanted to walk backwards to Rome, but I accidentally ended up in Berlin, and that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. And sometimes it’s just due to a lack of time.
G: So then you end up playing a show you know isn’t working?
L: It happens. You’re right there thinking fuck, I'm not ready yet, and here they are, the judgment.
4. The package
L: I need more than text. The images, the music, the story arcs, the characters – they’re all people I know. I don’t want to tell my story one-on-one; I’d rather wrap my observations in an anecdote.
G: My craving for realness is insane. I don’t mind if it’s off, as long as it has personality.
L: When people say something is so me, I get a tendency to do the exact opposite. I want to go back to the story time and time again. I’m red, blue and green, and sometimes I can opt to deepen the red, and sometimes the blue.
G: I have a few really personal songs, a small, vulnerable album, but I don’t want to release it yet. I don't take comfort in pity. Why tell a personal story if it’s just not good enough?
L: It’s like you take that feeling and wrap it into a package. And you just hope the audience tunes in to the feeling you’re trying to convey.
G: That’s when it works both ways. There’s no use in feeling sorry for yourself.
L: You could also direct a scene about a cup of coffee this way. The real explosion didn’t happen the moment you discovered everything was a lie, but just before that, when you spilt that coffee and it pissed that person off.
5. An attempt
L: Lightness, for me, doesn’t have to do with joking but with trying. All those little attempts when a person pulls himself together and tries again. It’s that lightness I look for in life and also in characters, even the bad guys. ‘You know why you’re doing this? You're not a bad person, you’re just scared.’
G: I like absurd situations. I want the audience to feel conflicted. It doesn't need to be a huge eye-opener, but a little alienation goes a long way. There’s so many good stories to tell.
L: Sometimes it takes me a long time to get to the heart of a character, but so far, I’ve loved every single one of them.
About the 3Package Deal
The 3Package Deal talent scheme - a collaboration between the AFK and Bureau Broedplaatsen (BBp) - assists and encourages exceptional young artists through affordable live/work spaces, a development budget of € 22.500 and professional encouragement from a coalition of renowned Amsterdam art institutions.
Liliane Brakema is part of the Theater Coalition with Theater Bellevue, Het Compagnietheater and the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten. Her new show Face to Face is playing at Bellevue Theater, Amsterdam, on May 9th (try out), 10th (premiere) and 11th. The entire country play list can be found here.
Gerson Main is part of the brandnew Coalition of Autodidact Makers, led by Theater Bellevue, Theater de Meervaart, Likeminds and De PIT. Ga Weg, Maar Blijf, his first theater play, will premiere this summer at Oerol before touring the Netherlands.