Posts Tagged ‘ Mickery ’

Mickery and La MaMa

The histories of Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa E.T.C. (Experimental Theater Club) in New York and the Mickery Theatre in Amsterdam are intertwined. Both La MaMa and the Mickery provided a home base for experimenters in the theatre from the sixties onwards. Just like with La MaMa, once you had worked at the Mickery, you were part of that family, you belonged to a group of people that shared a very specific collective history. La MaMa and the Mickery became the wellsprings of an internationally branched-out network of creators in the theatre.
Mickery was the brainchild of Ritsaert ten Cate, a rebel who found a cause in the budding avant-garde theater scene of the ‘60’s. With money inherited from his textile-manufacturing family, Ritsaert ten Cate set up shop at a farmhouse in Loenersloot, about 13 miles outside Amsterdam. He was an avid collector of “arte povera” and used the vast barn space as a gallery. (The parallels with Ellen’s First Street La MaMa Galleria are clear.) When Ellen Stewart got wind of Ritsaert’s new theatre space, she called him up to establish a tour date and residency for her La MaMa troupe, wedged between performances at Eugenio Barba’s theatre in Holstebrö and the Edinburgh Festival in 1967.
Her handwritten confirmation said:
“We will arrive with 3 buses, you will pay the actors a fee of $60 for each performance, plus a per diem, and you will make sure that they can sleep somewhere. We will perform Tom Paine, Part One, and we will perform each play two times. We will also need to rehearse. Thank you, Ellen Stewart”
During their two week-residency in Loenersloot, the company performed the first part of Tom Paine, while Tom O’Horgan readied Part Two with them for the Edinburgh Festival. Some actors slept in the farmhouse and others were hosted by neighbors. The Dutch press flocked to the Mickery barn and was unanimously flabbergasted by the spectacle, resulting in hundreds of theatergoers and curiosity seekers following in their tracks.
Over the years La MaMa revisited the Mickery – which in the early ‘70’s had relocated to an abandoned cinema in the center of Amsterdam – with 12 productions.
Unlike La MaMa E.T.C., still going strong and in its fiftieth anniversary year, Mickery closed its activities after some 800 productions in 1991.
Ellen Stewart and Ritsaert ten Cate have passed away, but not before passing on the commitment and passion to experiment.

Ellen Stewart and Ritsaert ten Cate. The mirror behind Ritsaert ten Cate has a quote from Heiner Müller "Enduring Is Also A Choice"

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Reality Check

RITSAERT IS DEAD . . .

Art is money and money is art.

Ritsaert ten Cate was aware of that. The fun thing about him was: he had money.
He had the money and made an art form out of presenting, producing and creating the cutting edge in the (performing) arts.
What’s even more fun: he had the social grace to let us share in his fantastic journey of exploration and discovery.
When the money was spent after about five years (we are talking 1965-1969), the sharing ended temporarily.

Then the marvelous Marga Klompé (the very first woman to gain a ministerial post in Dutch government) had the social grace to prolong audience participation in Ritsaert’s discoveries.
Because he had the eye, Ritsaert, and she knew that, Marga.

Ritsaert ten Cate was an excellent observer. A privileged and entitled background took care of his having no qualms about picking and developing what he thought fit.
He observed and shared what he thought fit. And it was marvelous.
Until the money was spent again.

He changed course.

And then the money was really and truly spent.

Ritsaert ten Cate foresaw the gaping abyss of the moral and cultural deficit that we are facing now exactly 20 years ago and he quit. He burnt down the house and all bridges behind him.

The legacy of his observing eye was kept alive for a period of seven fat years in a postgraduate school that he conceived and led. The moment he pulled out, the lean years announced themselves for the school, leading eventually to its incorporation into an institutional moloch he so despised.

Such is life.

Ritsaert is dead and the last nails to his coffin – a book and a website – have firmly been hammered in the past week, accompanied by some final swooning eulogies uttered by an aging and adoring crowd.

It’s up to us to wriggle out those nails by opening the book and navigating the website, to be niggled by the man’s mad, visionary energy.

It is not and cannot ever be about having to defend the need for our existence as artists.
That’s implied.

A community without access to the artful transference of necessary stories to be told will shrivel up and die.

. . . LONG LIVE RITSAERT

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