Abildon – In 2019, Urban Myth’s Martin Luther King was awarded the Gouden Krekel Award as the best youth performance of the season. The show can be seen again this season. The powerful idea of ”equal rights for all” is not a simple black and white story. On Sunday, April 23, the performance can be seen from 4-5pm at the Orpheus Theatre. A reason to have a good chat with Technical Director Jörgen Tjon A Fong.
If only we were still kids. With kids, it doesn’t matter what color the other person’s skin is, kids don’t judge. With children it is only about ‘justice’. This touches Jurgen Tun a Fong, artistic director of Urban Myth and writer and director of Martin Luther King, often. “The iconic figure Martin Luther King (1929-1968) may not mean much to children and young adults anymore. You have to give them the context that adults often already have. But as a writer I don’t have to devote too many words to it. One scene at the beginning is enough.”
This scene shows eight-year-old Martin Luther King wanting to enter a shoe store with his father, but is refused because he is black. He has to go through an alley and then a back door. It is his first encounter with apartheid: not long after he has to go to school and see how the boys from his neighbors go to a different school than he does. Jurgen: “The kids pick up on that right away. It’s a great injustice that you’re shown the door because of your color, that you’re not allowed to do what you want, that you don’t have the same rights as everyone else.” The jury’s report on Golden Cricket summed up nicely what Martin Luther King is about: ‘The fight to make the world a good place for everyone matters to us all. You can’t sit still, you have to make your own decisions, even now.”
Jürgen: “De Krekels may be theatrical prizes for young people, but Martin Luther King is a performance you can also attend as parents without children. Just because of the music that comes from that time; we looked briefly at the translations into Dutch. Combined with the story, there is a lot of feeling in those songs translation may backfire.”
The show begins and ends with a bang: the gunshot that killed Martin Luther King 55 years ago on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. In this hour, we see how King opposes racial segregation in the United States, but also the resistance his resistance raises. The performance takes you through King’s life: the bus boycott, the March on Washington, his famous I Have a Dream speech.
Something isn’t right
Tjon A Fong has received much praise for the clever and sly way he made apartheid tangible in the audience. Suddenly a white director appears in front of the group of players, who highlights inequality with his desires and decisions. You sense that something isn’t right here, but the hesitation you feel as a spectator shows that the Martin Luther King theme is still relevant. Inequality and discrimination are not ghosts from the past.
These are also themes that Urban Myth, which Tjon A Fong – who has also been the director of Amsterdam’s De Kleine Comedy for a year now – has brought to the fore in most of its shows. The critically acclaimed We Loved, We Had Guns about the civil rights movement in 1960s America is about that, too. “We are always very closely connected to the present. Our society is in a state of flux, asking questions about what we learned from that past, and what we can take away from it. With Martin Luther King too, you start to wonder if the way you look at your surroundings is still correspond to reality. In the end you have to choose which side you are on.”
for more information: www.orpheus.nl
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