“We’ve known each other from a long time ago, the dates don’t matter, what you need to know is that we were both young and obsessed with theatre. Luisa wanted to become an actress, Manuela a director, so we got together to make theatre. We learned from each other and from everything and everyone who happened to be within range: we wrote, directed, interpreted, designed scenographies, illuminated and curated spaces in order rehearse and finally get on stage.
We have always loved words and they were our starting point: Henry James was our first adaptation, followed by Raymond Queneau and it was at this point that we realised we’d have to give ourselves a name and take on a whole series of bureaucratic-administrative tasks that neither of us has loved doing: so we founded Psicopompo Teatro, partly as a joke and partly out of necessity. We took this name from Queneau’s Little Portable Cosmogony: we liked what it stood for, a ferryman of souls, someone who does not stand still, the idea of crossing thresholds and borders appealed to us, this was a much more appealing concept than the territories themselves and we didn’t want to choose a fixed point for ourselves. Plus just the sound of the word made us laugh. Psicopompo Teatro becomes the place of our joint experiments, as we continue to meet and study, sometimes together, sometimes on our own, but everything we experience becomes communal.
We open up to collaborations, we widen: we go through Werner Schwab and Anna Banti style experimental ways of working, trying to give shape to a scenic language that corresponds to us. We meet contemporary dramatists like Juan Mayorga, Rafael Spregelburd, Javier Daulte, Daniel Veronese and Elfriede Jelinek and we brought home two UBU awards.”
For Panorama Roma this year they work on Joan Nederlof’s text L’eurocommissario (De Eurocommissaris), opening the doors of their creative yard to the public.
“A few years ago, I realised I knew very little about the European Union. That struck me as strange considering the importance and power of Brussels. So I did some research and made a little show about the EU and a fictional Dutch European Commissioner. But I grasped that my monologue arose entirely from my Dutch point of view. Is a democratic Europe even possible, if, subconsciously, we remain so rabidly nationalistic?” Joan Nederlof
In De Eurocommissaris, a fictional European commissioner (Charlotte Hajenius) takes the audience on a humorous journey through her thoughts and tribulations. Is the dream of a democratic, united Europe even possible if Member States persistently put their own agenda first? Charlotte Hajenius gives the audience a glimpse into the inaccessible politics and conflicting values of Europe.
Joan Nederlof (1962) is a Dutch actress and playwright/scenarist. She graduated in 1985 from Toneelschool Amsterdam and subsequently established theatre company Mugmetdegoudentand (‘Mug’), along with, among others, Marcel Musters. She has performed in many of the company’s productions, such as Lost in Hotel Paradise and Onder Controle, which was selected for the Dutch Theatre festival in 1995, thus crowning it as one of the best performances in the Netherlands that year.
Since 1997 she has been mainly writing for television. In 2008, Nederlof was nominated for a gold ‘Notekraker’. This annual award honours the ‘most noticeable performance on stage in the Netherlands’. From 2007 to 2013, Nederlof participated in writing several productions for Mug. Additionally, she created several issues for the 3d, 4th and 5th season of popular tv series Gooische Vrouwen.
In 2014 Nederlof started working on a trio of solo performances, both written and performed by her, of which the first two, Sinaasappelstraat and De Eurocommissaris have now been staged. Since 2017, when she became artistic leader of Mugmetdegoudentand, she has also been working on a tv-series in eight episodes about a national newspaper, which will be produced for tv in 2019.
text analysis, mise-en-espace Manuela Cherubini and Luisa Merloni
with Manuela Cherubini and Luisa Merloni
project carried out within Fabulamundi Playwriting Europe, and co-financed by the European Union
production PAV, Short Theatre / Area06
Notes on Short Theatre 2020
In your opinion, what is this text about?
The Eurocommissioner by Joan Nederlof is the text we have been asked to work on. It is a monologue by a Dutch author/actress. The title already represents the core of the content: it is about European institutions, about the conflict between nationalism and common interests, about the artificiality of constructions and about the narratives implemented to address the conflict between particular and general interest.
It is very difficult to deal with current events in theatre.
Who or what—real or imaginary, present, past or future—do you think contributed to the creation of this work?
How has the relationship between your work and the city of Rome changed in the last fifteen years? What do you wish for the next fifteen?
Manuela In the last 15 years I must say that I have been in Rome quite little time, apart from the long and exciting experience of Bizzarra in 2010. But in the previous years I had already started working outside. However, I would like to say that compared to when I worked mostly in Rome, the dialogue between independent theater, where I was born and raised, and the institutions, which should collect the requests and the wealth that arises in the independent environment , I find it more difficult. So perhaps what I hope for the next 15 years is to spend more time in my city, which I love and hate like all Romans do, and then I hope that this dialogue can become richer and more intense.
Luisa Is it a bad thing to say “I agree”? I have not worked outside so much, I have instead worked a lot in Rome so I have seen all the changes step by step. In my opinion, yes, there has been a progressive increase in the various difficulties for independent artists and at the same time this helped us, in some way, to recognize a role for ourselves, alone and among ourselves, and so it helped us to gain a kind of network always very much alive. Certainly, for the future, the hope is for a more lively, more constant, truly happier dialogue.