from Opening Dutch Theatre Festival

Level Up! The future of the performing arts | Ernestine Comvalius

We are not begging for recognition
We are the ignition of new beginnings
We don’t fight prejudice asking for acceptance
We just rise
Using the wisdom of our ancestors
The stories brought to the Netherlands
From all continents
Our performers are highly educated
Giving back to society, lifting up others
inspiring little sisters and brothers
We don’t wait for admission
We change the conditions
And rise
Enrich the world of the performing arts
With new forms, new rhythms, new moves
Sprinkling the diaspora spices
Coating the art with our multi layered groove
We are not afraid of others who judge us
Our fame will transcend the nation
Our performers will keep winning prizes
No future of the arts without us
We are part of the equation
The world will embrace us
Cause we have it all
From where I was born
I am the Dutch conscience
The anti-colonial thorn
I am their conscience, you know
The Black Pete thorn in the flesh
You know it.
stories forbidden
stories well hidden
Pulling down heroes
They, begging for a break:

Be patient
Be kind
Don’t confront our mind
Wait till we are ready
To take it
To forsake it
Our innocent privilege
However you name it
You know what I mean
They are Not ready to come clean.
They denounce what’s over there
Turning a blind eye over here
I am sharing their history
Knowing both sides of the story
Embodying the stolen part
of the glory
Let us all
Keep on scratching
and pounding
Revealing, reversing
stories forbidden
stories well hidden
We can’t wait till later,
Hope they’ll awaken
From where I was born
The Netherlands
The Performing Arts
They need
that anti-colonial thorn!
Don’t we need to change the frames and the narratives?
Can we deconstruct the structural powers which divide us?
Shouldn’t we care not only because we need a beautiful performance,
but because the art can’t be neutral in the case of social injustice and
violation of human rights?
Can we reshape, redream, re-invent the world?
Everyday my granddaughter sings Ciara’s song: Level Up! Level Up! Level Up!

Ernestine Comvalius is the first director of the Bijlmer Parktheater and director of Theater Krater. She was born in Suriname and currently lives in the Netherlands. She is committed to young immigrant artists and is also involved in women’s emancipation.