At 5.30pm on the second Tuesday of every month, a public talk show called HALf6 is held in de Theaterschool’s main hall. Suzanne Kortbeek, a fourth-year student on the Production and Stage Management course, is organising two editions of the show, one on 5 April and the other on 24 May. Suzanne is responsible for everything about the shows, from the choice of subject to arranging the speakers and structuring the whole event.
One of the final projects on the Production and Stage Management course is called ‘Do something for the community at de Theaterschool’, and it’s worth five study credits; some students help out at the open day, others work on the education development programme, while others maintain the course’s Facebook page. Suzanne was especially interested in addressing a number of issues that she cares a lot about, and HALf6 seemed a good platform for this.
‘For me, the most important of the two shows is the one on the 24th,’ explains Suzanne. ‘The topic is cultural diversity – or the lack of it. That’s what my thesis is about, but then in connection with youth theatre. The way I see it, awareness is a crucial component of cultural diversity. This applies to education and schools, too, both of which are still very Western-oriented. So my goal with the HALf6 shows is to raise awareness, shake people out of their complacency and prompt a discussion. The issue is topical, and with good reason. Theatermaker magazine recently devoted a whole issue to the subject.’
Suzanne herself grew up in an all-white environment, but found herself in a truly cosmopolitan setting when she took a job at the MC Theater while doing Theatre Studies. ‘It was taken for granted there that all cultures had to be represented, not only front of house but also at the top of the organisation. That’s when I realised there was no longer any justification for staging plays like Othello, say, with an all-white cast. There are lots of people from different cultures on some of the courses at the Theaterschool, and on 24 May they’ll be able to make themselves heard. I really hope we can have a rich and constructive conversation.’
But first Suzanne needed to get to work on the 5 April edition of HALf6, which tackled with the new regulations for the self-employed. Suzanne: ‘It's a subject a lot of people are talking about at the moment. As you know, lots of people in the theatre world work on a freelance basis. What exactly is going to change, and how much more flexible can our contracts be? A while ago I applied for a VAR [Declaration of Independent Contractor Status] and set myself up as a business. I can accept assignments and issue invoices. But it’s no longer that simple. So it seemed like a good idea to organise an informative HALf6 show with guests such as employment law specialist Martine Lem.’