Until October 22, Claudia de Breij would be in Carré twice a day with Here I am, all shows were sold out.
Today she tries ‘to do a lot of mood management’, in imitation of the late Thinker Laureate René Gude, says cabaret artist Claudia de Breij (45). ‘Because if I allow myself to find myself very pathetic now, I will end up in a downward spiral.’ But it is sour, that her new performance Here I am yesterday just couldn’t have a festive premiere in Carré theater in Amsterdam.
On Tuesday evening, during and after the press conference, she played two more try-outs, each in front of a 250-person audience. But the premiere on Wednesday has been canceled in consultation with Carré director Madeleine van der Zwaan, and the theater has now been closed for a month. ‘Thirty men in Carré, where normally 1,700 fit, that’s a bit of:’ Hey, is the cleaning crew walking in the distance? With so little audience, the performance kills. When I have to explain it to my kids, I say, ‘That’s like two minutes Fortnite play. Nothing, nada. ‘ So sour and sour too, especially with a title like that. ‘ Laughs: ‘Here I am! Oh no, not. ‘
That thirty is a ridiculous number, she says, ‘that makes no sense at all in most theaters. So most of them just close now. That is very painful. Then I can get angry with the cabinet, but what good is that? That is all directionless, negative energy. ‘
It does hurt her that this cabinet shows a lot of consideration for the suffering of entrepreneurs, and much less for artists. ‘But I am also an entrepreneur. I keep ten people working: my two fellow players and musicians, the people for light and sound, costume and set, the director, the ‘stagehands’ and the driver.’
De Breij had already been talking to Carré about this performance for two years. ‘And of course we have always discussed: Okay, there are no 1,700 people allowed in, but 450, do you want that? Oh wait, it’s not 450 but 250! Back then we all still had a highly romantic ‘drive’: we’re going to do it anyway! ‘ Including try-outs and playing in Carré twenty times, just about everyone could be paid for that and then I hardly have anything left myself. But it really isn’t possible with thirty. ‘
Of course she saw it coming. ‘On Sunday we played a try-out in Zwolle and I already said: I am very happy if we make it to Carré. Well, we made it, we played seven shows in four days. There is a song in the performance called They won’t take that away from me and so it is.’
Here I am is about the legendary Jewish variety artist Heintje Davids, who continued to perform long after her official retirement in 1954. Keep saying goodbye, and then making a comeback, became known as ‘the heintjedavidseffect’. Many artists now feel compelled to feel that way, according to De Breij. “But we’ll keep going.”
De Breij: ‘It was very inspiring to work with her right now. Despite the tremendous misery that has befallen her in her life, she was such a cheerful, powerful top woman. That’s why it was great to play that show in this troubling time. You do tap some of that positive energy. It left me with a feeling of: ‘You can close the theaters or impose bizarre demands, but we will never stop.’ The text literally contains this sentence: “They can let you say goodbye, but you will always come back.”
It was painful that the performance they played during the press conference on Tuesday was now ‘perfect’ for the first time in the eyes of the makers. ‘It just went unbelievably well; we went into the wings dancing. Yes! It’s really finished, the press can come, we’re ready for the premiere. ‘
But at the second show on Tuesday evening, they already knew it was the end of the story. ‘And the public knew that of course. There was a kind of heaviness in the room. Phrases come in differently, such as one about a Christmas ball that has to be returned to the box for a whole year after Christmas. That suddenly had a different meaning. More painful.
‘My colleague Abdelhadi Baaddi plays Philip, Heintje’s husband, who at one point proposes that she say goodbye to the theater. When he said that phrase on the second show, I heard his voice break. Afterwards, we did cry in the wings for a while. ‘
But not too long, she emphasizes. ‘I cannot collapse, because I am also responsible for those people. The gloom should not dominate. We decided afterwards that we would part in a kind of ‘cheerful anger’, which also fits very well with the energy of the performance: just cry out, start over and carry on. ‘
Here I am would play twice a day in Carré until October 22. All performances were sold out. That series is now completely off the track. “But this performance will definitely be repeated, even if it is in 2025. To the left or to the right, we will play it, and preferably in a full Carré.”
A fortunate accident is that De Breij can now start recording the album with songs from the performance. ‘We had postponed that for a while, but now we’re going to do it right away. We’re just going to ventilate the place and dive into the studio tomorrow with the three of us. That way I keep myself going a bit. ‘
Major theaters are closing their doors for the time being
International Theater Amsterdam, for example, will be closed until November 11, the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht and the one in Haarlem will close at least until October 27. Carré theater in Amsterdam is also closed. The postponed premiere of Breath, from Nasrdin Dchar. In Haarlem on October 17 Everything will be fine van Orkater to premiere, to The black Plague from Camus. That performance has been postponed to at least November 7. In ITA, major productions such as Laura H., Uncle Vanya and Who killed my father, a monologue by Hans Kesting.
The original Heintje Davids
Heintje Davids (1888-1975) was a Dutch variety performer who became known with songs such as Zandvoort by the sea and Because I love you so much. Davids officially said goodbye to the theater in Tuschinski in 1954 – with performances by Wim Kan and Toon Hermans, among others – but soon made her comeback. She continued to perform well into the 1960s, regularly announcing that this was really the last time. After her death, Heintje Davids was buried from Carré.