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Letters to my son



Author: Bertus Ypenga

Sunday 27 januari 2019 the anabaptist church in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, featured a play called “Letters to my son” written and produced by Annerixt Pijlman.
She is a graduate from the theatre academy in Maastricht and currently teaches dramatic expressions at the Wateringsveld College.
The play was quite inspiring to me which is the reason I wrote this blog post.

Tabula de bewaker

Jij de puur en onschuld zelve
Je zult hebben één plicht
Bewaak je keizer z’n geloof
Dat je in zijn schaduw zult vinden
Wat je plicht zal doen ontbinden.

Jij, door kaarslicht verlicht
De ziener tussen blinden
Bewaak je keizer z’n geloof
Dat je in zijn schaduw zult vinden
Wat de keizer zal verslinden.

An ode to "Letter to my son"
(Meaning of this poem is lost in translation, which is the reason why it’s in dutch)

What is faith?
When conversation arises about faith, often people ask the question, do you believe in god?
Usually I would say yes, but two questions immediately pop into my head.
What do you regard as “god” and how would you describe “believe”?
The latter question has been treated in the play, “Letters to my son”.

In a world reigned by an emperor, in which all his subjects have sworn to believe only in him, an orphan, Tabula is to be a guard with the sole responsibility to maintain the emperor’s faith.
Tabula is introduced to the public when she is initiated in her role as guard. She is stationed in a church (of the emperor) where she meets the janitor. He shall support her throughout the play with deed and word.

Her resolve is tested when an unannounced letter arrives.
The letter is pleasant (for Tabula) because it concerns a mother who writes with affection to her son. A feeling is boiling up within her, one that quickly turns to panic.
A sign that she feels something that matters but what she can comprehend . The janitor insist that Tabula should take a step back and take helps her talk about what she feels.
A funny scene in which Tabula slows down her frantic pacing to a standstill.  
  Several other letters follow which require Tabula’s attention .
Quite quickly she picks up a few things from these letters. The art of calming down, that your feelings will not have their way with you, the art of thinking without getting lost in thoughts and a third which I will return to later on. These two lessons are not spelled to her, but she extracts them from her interactions with the janitor, mostly because of her sense of duty. What strikes is that her sense of duty transforms into a tool, a tool which helps Tabula shed new light onto believe. (literally candlelight)

The last lesson learned was about believe. Tabula has realized something during the performance of her duty , "She Believes!". She notes that believe is born inside her. This realization filled her with enthusiasm. She wants to share this belief with the janitor, but how can she do that ?! What if he does not believe the same as herself? How should she share her newfound believe with him? In her enthusiasm she imposed her believe on the cleaner. This severs the relationship between them and leaves Tabula alone, pondering her sins.
Tabula did realize where she went and in the process freed herself from her responsibly imposed on her by the emperor.
The emperor has never realized his sin, which we could call his shadow. I would draw a parallel to the story of the writer HC Andersen " The new clothes of the emperor" . In which the Emperor thinks himself in the most beautiful clothes but only a pure and innocent child can tell him that he is walking the streets naked.

Bertus Ypenga

Theatre Blog


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