Yesterday one of the theater greats of the Netherlands, the eminent Ton Lutz died, he was 89 years old. Born into a family of theater makers, he started acting when he was twelve. Ton Lutz was an important actor and director, whose work spans three quarters of a century.
A photo of Ton Lutz and his stage and life partner Ann Hasekamp, taken by Hans Joachim Schröter in 1969, can be seen at Wikicommons.
For me Ton Lutz will always be the teacher who taught me THE lesson a young stage designer needs to learn.
In 1982 Ton Lutz was invited to take on the role of teaching director for the duration of one term at the Gerrit Rietveld Art Academie. We students were required to design the set and costumes for "De Getuigen" (The Witnesses) by Flemish playwright/author Hugo Claus.
I perceived three out of the four characters in the play as despicable, real asses (or dick heads). So I designed latex fake bald heads with an accentuated fontanelle .
Ton took one look at my drawings and said something I've never forgotten. If I told the audience that much with my designs, there wouldn't be much left for the actors to say. So, it was back to the drafting board for me.
Possibly his remark would eventually lead to me choosing studio art over stage design, but as long as I worked in the theater, Ton's remark rang in the back of my head, and whenever my designs (or I) wanted to take center stage, I knew to take back this or that.
I learned all I would ever need to know about upstaging from the best.