Before Marc Stoffels made the move into IT, he had a completely different role –  literally – as an actor. One of the theater companies where he played, Het Houten Huis was recently invited to bring their performance of “Music From Downstairs” to Moscow. A trip to Moscow is an experience in itself, and BSL didn’t want to deprive him of the opportunity. But with one condition – we asked him to write a blog about his trip!

An invitation to Moscow

The invitation came from the Gavroche International Festival. A festival that each year selects a country to introduce a variety of European children’s performances to the young Moscow public. This year it was the turn of the Netherlands – and we were to perform in the Serpukhovka theater.

Moscow rush hour

We arrived in Russia on Wednesday 18 September. Two hours had been reserved for the trip to our Moscow hotel. This seemed over cautious for a 30-km journey, but I didn’t take the Moscow rush hour into account – it lasts all day! In no time we were at a standstill, even though we were on an 8-lane motorway. So the journey took us the full two hours, just as our Russian hosts (with the benefit of local knowledge) had estimated.

Preparations

We travel to the theatre the next day. Here we come face-to-face with Russian culture… our technicians try to persuade the Russian technicians to do what they ask. This results in 30 people standing around, a great deal of discussion, and two men doing something while the rest look on. And because an electrician has to be called in to even put in a plug, it takes two hours before the first plug is inserted into a wall socket. So… no time for our planned walk through at 15:00. But we do have time later for a meal in the Red Square, and a sneak preview of the Kremlin.

The first performance in Moscow

It’s Friday, the day of our first performance for our young Moscow audience. We’ve performed this play many times, but it’s extremely technical, with sound and light playing an important part and multiple cues. So we start the day with a walk through. A type of general rehearsal. After lunch, there’s a press conference, followed by more preparation, and a light snack. Then it’s finally time for the performance! And Russian children are the same as children everywhere. They thoroughly enjoy the play – their parents too. The official opening of the festival follows, accompanied by delicious food and an endless supply of vodka.

Onwards and upwards

We perform twice more on Saturday, and also on Sunday. That’s pretty tough. It’s a physical play, so it’s really demanding to have two performances in a day. And given I spend a lot of time now sitting behind my computer, my muscles soon let themselves be felt! But …the show must go on :). And the hall is full for each show, which was of course great! There’s a workshop between shows too. The play includes a great deal of music, and the kids could make their own musical instrument – a bullroarer.

After the last performance we help dismantle the sets, before heading off in the evening for a slap-up meal in an Uzbek restaurant. A visit to a karaoke bar rounds off the day.

My child (10 years old) said that this is the best performance that he watched in his life. Like this!

Today,  I visited the performance “Music From Downstairs” with my 11 years old daughter. Thank you for the opportunity to see the theatrical work of the Dutch Children’s Theater. Both of us really enjoyed it.

Moscow sightseeing

Luckily there’s still a day for us to see Moscow. Well, just a small part really. Moscow is huge, with about 12 million inhabitants. But a friend who’d lived in Moscow had given me some tips. Armed with these tips, we first take the metro to the Lubyanka, the former KGB headquarters. We then walk though Moscow’s streets heading for Red Square. On the way, it becomes clear that the West is completely integrated in the city. Perhaps I’m looking for a bygone and somewhat romantic picture of Russia, for the rougher edges. But this isn’t visible in the fleeting time I had for sightseeing. Reaching Red Square, we went into a Kazachs church before visiting St. Basil’s Cathedral (very impressive, perhaps a source of inspiration for the Efteling!).

 

In search of food, we cross over the Moskva. Oh yes, the food. Food here is really good, with plenty of Asian influences. This time we find a type of food bazaar. Lots of small places to eat, all serving delicious dishes. Next a long walk to Gorky Park, where the ex-wife of Roman Abramovich (Dasha Zhukova) runs a contemporary arts museum: Garage. A cool exhibition that includes, among others, the Amsterdam-based studio (Studio Drift).

But all good things must come to an end, including this Moscow trip. I buy a couple of souvenirs (a Matryoshka doll pop and of course some vodka) before heading back home… and back to BSL.

Meet our design team

Marc is the newest member of our web design-team. Experts in interaction design. Creative in heart and soul. Check out our article about Conversational Interface Design – one of the areas with which Marc is involved. We create responsive web applications, integrated with backends for a wide range of clients. Just get in touch if you want to meet our team!

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