Saturday, April 30, 2005

Only at Home

As long as I can remember April 30 has been "Konininginnedag", the day the Dutch celebrate the birthday of the queen. Queen Mother Juliana's birthday was on April 30th. Her daughter Beatrix, the present queen, was born in January. Since that month hardly calls for outdoors festivities (unless there's enough ice on the waterways for the "Elf Stedentocht" the famous ice skating event, that takes skaters by eleven towns in Friesland), the queen let the people keep April 30th as Koninginnedag. Everybody is off, and all of Amsterdam turns into one huge yard sale, bringing people from all over the country to town.

Today Beatrix van Oranje celebrates her 25th anniversary as Queen of the Netherlands. The NRC, one of the leading daily newspapers placed a call for its readers' personal memories, anecdotes involving the queen. Do I have one? You bet I do.

In December 1986, six years into her reign, the queen honored everyone involved by attending a performance of "The Blacks" by Jean Genet in the Soeterijn Theater in Amsterdam.
During the summer, co-director Henk Tjon, actor Maarten van Hinte and I had worked on a contemporary translation and adaptation of the original French play. I also met regularly with the late Rufus Collins to discuss my set and costume designs for the same play.

I was so involved, that it was hard to understand why Otto Romeijn, the co-producer of the play didn't allow me to be part of the royal moment, when Queen Beatrix came on stage at the Soeterijn theater, to congratulate the ensemble with a job well done. I have to admit, I sat sulking in a chair in the front row. The queen complimented Rufus with stage direction, set and costumes. Without any ado Rufus called out my name and pulling me onto the stage said, "this is our designer."
Ah, the satisfaction!
Queen Beatrix told me my designs were inventive.
I wondered whether calling her "Ma'am" was the correct address to thank her, when I heard actor Arnie Breeveld's bass, "I hear Your Majesty likes to act as well?"
"Only at home," the queen said with a big smile. And then we all laughed.
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