Comedian Guido Weijers today gave a Masterclass Happiness for 500 spectators. 500! That sounds like a huge number in corona time. It was, I found out Subwayreporter Erik Jonk as a participant in the trial event. But it also felt ‘wonderful as ever’.
That’s good. I am used to the excited hum before a theater performance. Or better: was used to. Here at the Beatrix Theater in Utrecht I can be found regularly. With 1500 ‘man’ audience. Now there are only 500, spread over different areas as well. But after a year of corona silence it sounds like a branch noise. A very welcome branch noise, that is.
After Guido Weijers, many more trial events
This Saturday afternoon is one of a series of Fieldlab test events. This is a joint initiative of the business sector, the events industry and the government. After a conference (last week) and Guido Weijers, football and music will follow. Tomorrow and next week, spectators will be admitted to NEC – De Graafschap and Almere City – Cambuur Leeuwarden. Then the trial event train continues to the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam (dance event and pop concert) and the Lowlandsterrein in Biddinghuizen (dance and pop festival). The goal: to gather data and knowledge to ultimately achieve safe and responsible events that we all yearn for.
Today’s 500 guinea pigs have already had a lot of work behind them. They had to undergo a PCR corona test in four cities in the country on Thursday and a laundry list of questions had to be answered. Also by me of course. Fortunately, my corona test in the empty Slotervaart hospital in the capital delivers a ‘negative‘on. I have to download a special app for this event (Close) to answer many questions about my health and behavior over the past six months. The only cremation I visited in January produced a laundry list of extra questions. But no problem, everything for a good cause. Because oh, a busy theater, that really feels like an outing.
A lot of hassle, great organization
By the way, the Close app works great, Fieldlab deserves the credits for that. You cannot miss every step towards Guido Weijers’ performance. Where and at what time should you be tested for corona? Where do you park the car? Have you already received the results of your corona test? If not: call this number before 11 a.m. Which entrance to the Beatrix Theater should you enter? And how does it all work afterwards? Everything passes, everything has been thought of. Of course you have to, if you want to acquire the correct data. But the organization is perfect.
Once inside the Beatrix Theater, a kind of well-oiled machine is at work. Figure 1 checks my corona test. Figure 2 measures my temperature and lets me disinfect my hands. Figure 3 checks the access card. Poppetje 4 hands out tags, which measure how you move and for how long and with whom you come into contact. Doll 5 picks people out for an extra quick test. Figure 6 tells your routing. And so it goes on. After downloading the app, Guido Weijers says it all in a welcome video: “Thank you for taking all the trouble up here.”
And then it is time for Guido Weijers
The show’s announcer also puts it: “You’ve been through a lot already. But… you can just give a standing ovation at Guido’s turnout. Let’s do that! Just kick out that pent-up frustration. The employees at this event were just as excited. Do you know how cows do when they are allowed back into the pasture in the spring? Well, it looked like that. ” And then Guido Weijers comes. The Show Must Go On of Queen really thunders through the theater. Fireworks can be seen at six places on the stage and the ovation and cheers for the Brabander are incredible. It really is goosebumps. You can tell by everything: people have waited so long for this.
In the hall (and outside it too) the 500 spectators are divided over three bubbles. The blue one of 250 people sits in pairs, with a few seats in between and without masks. They have to stay in the break and have been given a ‘break bag’. Lumpy yellow (200 people) is allowed to behave as it was until a year ago. Everyone sits next to each other, but with a mouth mask on. Bubble green is back in pairs and with a splashback in the gap. By the way, the empty seats in bubble blue are filled with cardboard signs of famous Dutch people who, like Guido Weijers, perform in our theaters.
Guido Weijers acts selflessly
It is not surprising that he is allowed to work this afternoon. He offered it to Fieldlab himself: if they wanted to do events, Guido Weijers would cooperate selflessly. In May last year he already wrote a letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte. This was also published in the newspaper, but yielded no response. In the summer, Weijers conceived an outdoor stage surrounded by three different buildings. In this way he was able to receive 90 spectators instead of the then permitted 30. That idea was followed in other theaters, but in political The Hague it remained silent again. “When in the autumn the theaters and cinemas were allowed to reopen with the 1.5-distance rule,” the comedian looks back, “that resulted in hundreds of thousands of visitors. And zero corona infections. ” At the insistence of State Secretary Mona Keijzer, the government is cooperating with these trial events. Today Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven is present. She follows the course of events with great interest and afterwards also talks to Guido Weijers.
‘Tina Turner’ is enjoying it equally
Talking about the aforementioned goosebumps. During the break I bump into musical star Nyassa Alberta at a distance of five feet. We are actually guests in ‘her house’ today. Nyassa played Tina Turner in the musical last February TINA. After a few weeks the Beatrix Theater had to be locked by corona and since then she has not played a single show. To her, returning to ‘her’ theater feels like a party. In her brightest dress, she says she also had goosebumps on her arms at the opening. “I got all dressed up, because this really feels like going out. I am very happy, also for Guido. ” She hopes this trial event will have positive outcomes. “And especially that it offers perspective. For us and for all other theaters and events. That after a year of sitting at home, more and more becomes possible. “
Part of a solution
Guido Weijers himself says it aptly to his audience: “How nice that you are not part of the complaint. I hope you were part of a solution later on. ” In the past year of unemployment, he looked for it online in giving webinars. Just like in this show, they were about happiness (info on his website Puurgeluk). Today he gives ‘lectures with humor’, although he is not an expert by experience. “I am the only known Dutch person without a personal coach.” As far as Guido Weijers is concerned, happiness is a luxury problem. “Whatever fucking time we are in, we have a good time here. A refugee floating in a boat just hopes to reach the mainland. He really doesn’t have time to think about whether he is otherwise happy. Oh yes, yesterday I had bad WiFi at home. ”
Message from Guido Weijers
In addition to the jokes and fun and a fun series of facts, Guido Weijers also has a serious message. “You can all complain a lot. But you can also propose creative solutions to the cabinet. And then just hope that they assess those solutions for safety. That has not happened so far. ” And now that Minister Van Engelshoven of Education is in the room, it was suggested this week that students could be taught in theaters, that is at least striking. “So it is safe in theaters?”
Pieter Lubberts, one of the initiators of Fieldlab, hopes that all information obtained will lead to an affirmative answer. In any case, he has seen many happy people today – quite according to Guido Weijers. “You just felt an atmosphere of ‘how nice to be here’. I saw two people hug each other, as if the outside world did not exist for a while. ” Lubberts hopes that, once the rapid tests are available and the test certificates that Corona Minister Hugo de Jonge announced this morning, more will be possible soon. “As an event industry, we hope to at least contribute with our pilot events. I think that you have to do a test before visiting an event is a good interim measure. We’re not supposed to be tested all the time for the rest of our lives, but for now it seems manageable. Every step is one. ”
The corona test again
Today’s 500 guinea pigs have at least taken a step. A step of a few happy hours. Am I, like those 500 others, done with that now? No. On Thursday we all have to be tested again. And, ping, right after the show by Guido Weijers, the Close app will sound again. A message: that will apply again in a few minutes outside the RIVM measures. It was also asked whether we do not want to come into contact with people who have a contact profession, nor with those who belong to a risk group for ten days. The harsh reality is soon back, but we were talking about it. Because it was delicious, as always.
A ray of festival hope glimpses at the corona horizon: on the road with ‘test proof’
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