Hello, I’m Sally Phillips and it is my very great privilege and indeed pleasure to welcome you to The Orange Tree Theatre of which I am an ambassador and former barmaid. The Orange Tree Theatre, an intimate in the round theatre in Richmond, South West London, is renowned for staging overlooked plays from our history and also putting on new and exciting plays to challenge us, thrill us and entertain us. Tonight is no exception. You are about to watch The Orange Tree Theatre actors touring company in Theatre Royal, Plymouth co-production of Amsterdam by Israeli playwright Maya Arad Yasur. This is the UK premiere of the play one which asks questions of our collective history how our past influences our present and the way we treat each other. We’d love to hear your responses to the play. Join the discussion on social media using the hashtag #AmsterdamPlay Amsterdam will embark on a UK tour opening at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth in February. To find out where you can experience Amsterdam live or for more insight into the play, the theatres or the team that made it visit orangetreetheatre.co.uk. Thanks! – She, umm… what do they call it? She uh… – Took a bite out of Amsterdam. – Took a bite out of Amsterdam. Right; like it was some sort of omelette – She took a nice, juicy bite out of Amsterdam, right, like it was some sort of omelette she’d made without even cracking her eggs. – She couldn’t crack her eggs. – She couldn’t crack her eggs. Okay; what, like in a glass ceiling kind of way… – No. She couldn’t crack her eggs. There was no glass ceiling. Hell, there wasn’t even any ceiling there. Just eggs… a pair of them she literally had in her hands but couldn’t crack to make the omelette or pancake or whatever it was she was trying to make. Yes. – So she didn’t crack the eggs. – She didn’t crack the eggs, no, she just let them run in her hands, or maybe she just put them back in the fridge or whatever, ‘cos what was it… the gas was turned off? – The gas was turned off. That’s it. The gas had been turned off ‘cos… – Well here’s the thing; she has no idea why. – Her gas had been turned off and she has no idea why… – No idea why. Truth is, she has no idea why her gas should have been turned off, until all of a sudden – – 8.27am. And all of a sudden – a knock at the door. – The postman. – No, the postman never takes the stairs. – Not ever? Not ever. In Amsterdam, the postman never takes the stairs. In Amsterdam, the postman just pops the envelopes through that flap thingy in the front door that’s facing the street. – Flap thingy; right… – He just pops them through and they start piling up on the stairs in bulk. – The residents get in the stairwell, and because they’d like to avoid having to step on a pile of envelopes, they take their time digging out the ones that are addressed to them and the rest – yeah well, the rest, they put together in a perfectly neat pile and leave it on the second step. Could be the third step too though. – Fourth step – at most. – And this postman, Hendry he’s called; yes, Hendry, he’s not your garden variety postman, oh no! He isn’t some Joe Schmo cycling around town in the dark, delivering people their letters just to make ends meet. – He’s not? – No, man’s a Biomedical Engineering student. – But the postman’s not very crucial here, is he? No one’s really all that interested in hearing about the postman; not really. The postman could be a Biomedical Engineering student; he could also be a street tramp for that matter; a Rockstar, refugee… hell, he could even be one of the Royals. Point is, the postman’s just a footnote, ‘coz the only thing we really care about are those envelopes. The envelopes that he pops through the front door flap thingies, day-in-day-out. – That’s how it’s done in Amsterdam. And they all do it the same way. – And Victoria always gets them stuck in her heels. – Merde! – We’ll have to come back to Victoria a little later. Because, right now, we have – – A knock at the door. – But they don’t knock on doors in Amsterdam. – Except there very much is a knock at the door right now. And there is no way it could be anyone else… anyone but the upstairs neighbour, ‘coz it’s a small building; only two storeys; and each one’s only got the one flat. – Only the one flat, that’s right. And no one, no one but her and the upstairs neighbour has the key to the front door that’s facing the street. – Well it must be the neighbour, then. Must be the neighbour, the one called Jan… Must be the old, upstairs neighbour called Jan who’s always smoking those cigars that stink out the stairwell. – The narrow, winding stairwell, with the old, red carpet. – The old red carpet that soaked in Jan’s stinking cigar smell. – Jan? Jan, is that you? – She answers the door and sees – – No one. – No one? – No one. Just an envelope that Jan – yeah, must have been Jan – that he slid under her door. That’s it. Slid right under her door. – Slid her an envelope right under the door and then just walked away. – Unless he didn’t knock on the door. – But there was a knock at the door. – Because he doesn’t want her seeing him. – He did knock on the door. – He doesn’t want her smelling old age on him. – He doesn’t want her smelling all that cheese on him. – But he did knock on the door. – They don’t knock on doors in Amsterdam. – He won’t knock on the door because he doesn’t want her – – But he did knock on the door! – They don’t bloody knock on doors in Amsterdam! – …smelling those cigars on him. – That’s not it. – The Jenever then. – That’s not it! – The smell of the cigars that he’d picked up at the tobacconist’s on Damrak. – No, that’s not it… – The smell of the Jenever that he always buys at the Wynand Fockink distillery underneath the Krasnapolsky Hotel at Dam. – No! – Dam Square! Yes! The one she always cycles through on her way to Frascati Theatre – Dam square, yes, the one she cycles through on her way home from Central Station. When she’s getting the train back from Rotterdam after a concert. – Yes! – When she’s getting the train back from Maastricht after rehearsal. – Yes! – When she’s getting a train back from Utrecht after rehearsal. – Yes! – When she’s getting the train back from Paris. – Yes! – When she’s getting the train back from Berlin. – Yes! – When she’s catching a plane from Tel-Aviv heading to Central Station – by train. – But Jan doesn’t. Jan doesn’t go to Central Station. – Jan only pops over to Dam once every six months when he’s run out of Jenever. – Wynand Fockink, Superior Jenever – 100 percent distilled Juniper. – He cycles from his road all the way to Dam Square; right into an alleyway under the Krasnapolsky, locks the bike to itself, props it up against the amsterdammetje. [bell chimes] [coughs] – A small short post by the edge of the pavement and heads into the distillery. – Hans is there to welcome him. – Hans? – Uh-huh, Hans. Good-old smiley, bald-headed, Amsterdammer Hans. – Bald-headed, Amsterdammer Hans who looks like a yellow, life-size, smiling Emoji; Like the most perfect hunk of aged Dutch Gouda; like a radiant sunshine at high-noon, who goes up to him and says: – Dag Meneer Jan, Wat kan ik voor U doen? [bell chimes] Hello Mr. Jan, sir, what can I do for you? – Like he doesn’t know Jan’s there for his fresh bottle of Jenever. – Like he doesn’t know that Jan shows up once every six months like clockwork when he’s run out of Jenever. – Thirty years now! – Fourty! – Fifty! – Like he doesn’t know Jan’s about to ask him for a fresh bottle of Jenever Superior to take away. – Not before he’s had one for the road; and then has himself a little go at some random German tourist, telling them to “Give me back my bicycle!” – While having a bit of a laugh under his moustache. – Bit of a laugh? – Under his moustache. – His bicycle. – The bicycles that the Germans took from the Dutch. – Huh? – In World War II. – Not before the German tries to cool off his flushed cheeks. – And Jan half mutters something about how “they took all our bikes, all of them.” – Huh? – For the iron. – He, uh… he wouldn’t knock on her door. – He wouldn’t knock on her door because he doesn’t want to have to look at her. – Her noxious, Sachsenhausen, yiddish face coming at him. – Who, Jan? – Her noxious, Sachsenhausen face, and that dark, unruly mop of hair. – Bit like Anne Frank’s, eh? – Those Jewish eyes plotting to take over the world. – Her Jewish gaze, usurping his view. – Her Jewish breath, stinking up his air. – Those filthy tassels that she’s got that kid in her belly wearing; right there in the womb. – Who, Jan? Nah… – Jan, that’s right. Jan… – The upstairs neighbour? – No, surely not. Not Jan. – Then. Why. In. Fuck’s. Name. Won’t. He. Knock. On. That. Door?! – He doesn’t want to inconvenience her. He doesn’t want to inconvenience her because he knows that she is nine months pregnant. – But the envelope. – Yes, the envelope. The khaki envelope from Israel. – No. – The envelope from Israel with the uh – – No. – The envelope from the… what was it… the Amsterdam conservatory? – No. – The Brussels Philharmonic. – No. – Carnegie Hall! – No. – What, an envelope with the Amsterdam Coat of Arms? [bell chimes] [coughs] The Amsterdam Coat of Arms is the official city symbol and is made up of: a red shield and a black pail, three silver St Andrew’s crosses, the imperial crown of Austria and two golden lions. The words valiant, steadfast and compassionate are imprinted at the bottom. – Yup, that’s the one. – Hebrew: Schelet Ha’azulah schel Amsterdam – Nederlands: Het wapen van Amsterdam – Polski: Herb Amsterdamu – Español: El escudo de Amsterdam – Dansk: Amsterdams byvåben – Valiant, steadfast, compassionate. [bell chimes] – During the 1941 February Strike in Amsterdam, for the first time in Europe non-Jewish people protested against the persecution of the Jews by the Nazi regime. Queen Wilhelmena of the Netherlands wanted to commemorate the role of the residents in Amsterdam and coined the following three word motto: valiant, steadfast, compassionate. On March 29th 1947, Wilhelmina presented the motto as part of the Coat of Arms of Amsterdam to the city’s government. Her word’s were – “Never shall I forget the emotion that overwhelmed us when eyewitnesses first notified us in London of how the entire population had actually turned against the inhumanity of the cruel tyrant.” [bell chimes] The Queen’s words delivered in a stately, regal tone. – So, Jan eh? – Jan; that’s right. Jan. – Must have been something urgent. – So urgent he couldn’t just leave it on one of those red carpet stairs? – So urgent he just had to drag his pair of withered old legs up two storeys, slide it under her door and knock –? – They don’t knock on doors in Amsterdam! – It’s a letter from the council, it’s a… – Bill! – A bill. Right. Okay. A bill. For… – Gas – A gas bill so urgent it adds up to – – Seventeen hundred Euros. -Seventeen hundred – – Tssss… – For gas?! – What’d she do, start her own Scuba Tank top up station? – Send a hybrid rocket into space? – Exterminate an entire people? – Pause. – Pause. – What d’you have to go and call ‘pause’ for?! – You brought up genocide. – So? – You gotta have a pause after genocide. – Come again? – A pause. – You mean after the word ‘genocide.’ – After the word ‘genocide’ – you have a pause. – And another pause. – ‘Fermata,’ they call it in music. Fermata… – Why music? – ‘Coz she’s a violinist. – She’s a violinist?! – She’s a violinist. That is correct. We’d neglected to mention that she is, in fact, a violinist. And a rather successful one at that. She’s the one who composed that famous concerto, what’s it called… – A violin concerto in A Minor… – The Starling Paradox. – A paradox? – The starling’s. She’d composed this concerto called The Starling Paradox and it… that concerto was the thing that brought her all her fame. – Not fame; recognition. It only brought her recognition. Strictly on a local scale at this stage, with the odd mention here and there in some random, nearby European capital. – Right, Fermata it is. – I suppose… – We pause. – An indefinite pause. – I suppose. – Indefinite but not too long though. – Just enough time to let the performer catch their breath. – Exactly, or get in a quick rest. – A rest, yes; but only the real quick one. – It’s only fair. Everyone would need one; they sure would… – When they’ve said the word – – Genocide. – 9.13am. – She’s at the supermarket. Queuing at the till. Some white guy right behind her; this bored look in his eyes.
– Critical. – Critical, right, judgmental. ‘Cos he’s probably thinking she’s an immigrant. – He’s sizing up the shopping in her basket. – A packet of spaghetti; bottle of French wine; bag of Brussels sprouts and some pastrami. – He could also be thinking that she’s Italian. – Except he doesn’t, does he? The only thing he can think of is how she’s taking up his place in the queue. – She’s thinking he’s thinking about how she’s taking up his place in the queue. – That if she weren’t there, then the supermarket queues would be that much shorter. – Queues in the post office would be that much shorter. – The pharmacy too. – That if she weren’t there then he might have been the one living in her Keizersgracht flat. He’d always wanted to live on the Keizersgracht. [bell chimes] The Emperor’s canal, the second and widest of the three canals in Amsterdam city centre She’s gone and hijacked his Keizersgracht flat. – ‘Cos she also wants to live on the Keizersgracht. She also wants to stand on her parquet floors in her sloffen – [bell chimes] Dutch for slippers. press her thighs up against the central heating and look out the double-glazed window at the ducks in the canal; she also wants to be looking down at her bicycle that she keeps tied up to this little bridge with two chains; and her grocery bag she’s left lying on the rack like some saddle for drunks to dump empty Heineken cans inside. – Or piss a can’s worth of Heineken into. – He thinks she’s religious. He’s noticed it’s pastrami she’s buying and not ham, and now he’s convinced she’s religious.
That she’s this orthodox Muslim. – So? – And he’s seen her grab the pastrami from the shelf that says ‘Halal’ [bell chimes] The Arab word for the Muslim equivalent of ‘Kosher’ food in Dutch and in Arabic and now he thinks she’s Muslim. – So? – So he thinks she’s Muslim. – He thinks she’s Muslim and as such, he’s thinking that she’s taking up his place in the queue. – He’s thinking she’s taking up two places in the queue. – “He’s thinking I’ve got this parasite in my belly that’s going to feed off his faxes!” she’s thinking. – His faxes?! What the hell’s she on about?! – Taxes. His taxes. – Just tell him you’re Jewish. He could be a Jew himself, she tells herself. – Tell him you’re from Israel. He might be – – She’s got that gas bill in her hand. The one she got in the post – – From Jan. – She’s got that gas bill in her hand that she got from Jan. – “Ask him to explain for you. Translate it. Speak English but use your American accent,” she’s telling herself. “Let him know that you’ve got a Master’s,” she’s telling herself. “that you’re this woman of the world, that you’re from a Western country –” – Ha! – A secular country – Haha! – A democracy – – Ha! Ha! HA! – Let him know that you’re a violinist. That you’re Jewish. – She’s thinking he’s thinking the cashier’s a dead ringer for her. She’s thinking he’s thinking how underneath that Hijab is a girl who’s the spitting image of her. That they’ve both got the same complexion and the same eyes. He’s thinking she’s this secular Muslim, Moroccan or Turkish maybe. That she must work as a cashier for some other supermarket chain. – Even cashiers have to go the supermarket for their shopping. – So she’s wearing her headphones. She’s singing in English. – She’s thinking he’s going to think she’s Italian. – He’s thinking she’s either this Italian who’s picking up some French wine or she’s some secular Muslim cashier feeding off his — – She’s asking the cashier for the total; in English. – Why English?! Dutch! Speak Dutch! – Now’s not the time to be practising your Dutch. – Ik moet mijn Nederlands oefenen [bell chimes] I should be practising my Dutch – What’s she going on about? – Ik moet mijn klote Nederlands oefenen [bell chimes] I should be practising my fucking Dutch. – Accent alert – She’s only speaking English to the cashier. – She’s saying she doesn’t speak Dutch; wants them to think she’s a tourist; an American. She’s tickling their every prejudice; exercising their every stereotyping muscle; shuffling their every nationalist card.
She’s telling herself – – Be political. – Heil Hitler! – Be socially-conscious! – Viva la revolución! – Be one of us. – Immigrants go home! – Be who you are. – Europe for Europeans! – Be practical! – Twee halen een betalen! [bell chimes] Buy one, get one free – Show him the gas bill you got from Jan today. – Tsssss….. – Remind him where he comes from with his local craft beer and those bacon rashers he’s got in his basket. – Hamas, hamas, joden aan het gas [bell chimes] Hamas, hamas Jews to the gas – Tell him! – Mevrouw [bell chimes] – Miss – A 1,700 Euro gas bill, in the name of van Heugten – Mevrouw – Mevrouw van Heugten? – The landlady. May she rest. – Mevrouw! – Mevrouw van Heugten – Mevrouw!!!! – JA? – Jij bent aan de beurt. [bell chimes] You’re next. Tsssss… – Halal pastrami, loaf of spelt bread, some mayonnaise, and a gherkin. – Seventeen hundred Euros. – Mag ik contant betalen? [bell chimes] Could I pay cash? – 11.25am and she’s having a – – Transvaginal ultrasound examination. – Transvaginal ultrasound examination. And there’s a pulse, is there? – Pause. – Is there a pulse? – Pause. – She’s asking to listen for a pulse. – Pause. – She wants to tell him she’s a violinist. – She wants to tell him she used to play with the Amsterdam Philharmonic. – I bet he goes to concerts. – I bet his father goes to concerts. – I bet his father goes to concerts and the opera. – I bet he listens to Wagner when he’s making dinner, conducting the pots and frying pans with all his ladles and spoons.
– Turning up the flame on the gas hob, muttering in German ‘gesamtkunstwerk’… – Gesamtkunstwerk. – She thinks it might be wise to share something personal with him – – Just as he’s sticking that contraption between her legs? – Share something personal like… – Living? Dead? – Something about herself. About her Dutchman. Help him relate to her whilst he’s having all his Anti-Semitic thoughts about her jet-black pubes. – Share something. Anything. – Something about that party back in Belgium. At that sixteenth century castle… in Spontin. – Skull circumference: 32 centimetres. – Right, at Spontin. At the castle. In the servant’s wing. – Weight estimation: two kilos, 700 grams. – She took Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. – Took what now? – Ecstasy. E. She took an E and touched the stars. Just before midnight. The very last ten seconds, during the actual countdown. Right, because it was New Year’s Eve and there were fireworks outside the castle, in the snow, and she went outside; she went outside, even though her dress; the dress she had bought especially for that party in Spontin, at some tiny vintage shop on one of The Jordaan’s nine streets; the mustard coloured dress with the red zigzag patterns, had no sleeves. – Five toes on the right foot. – And her Dutchman told her off: “You have to have a coat on!” he was saying, “either get back in the castle or go put on a coat!” – External auditory meatus. – He said, “Let’s make love by the fireplace.” – She’s telling him how her Dutchman said to her, “Let’s make love by the fireplace,” except he’s not even listening because he’s busy; uh-huh, yes, he’s busy assessing her baby’s body with his ultrasound stick that he’s shoved right between her thighs. – He’s looking her in the eye, seeing pink nipples. – He’s looking her in the eye seeing the nipples of naked Jewish women running through the ghetto, and he can’t say whether he wants to shoot her, or fuck her, or save her then marry her. – He sees in her a Jew with flashing Euro signs like they have in the cartoons. He’s looking her in the eye, seeing her breasts. He’s looking her in the eye, seeing Christ walk on water. He’s looking her in the eye, seeing nothing but a nose. He’s thinking – – She hasn’t got a Jewish nose. – Actually. – Huh? – Actually. – She hasn’t got a Jewish nose. Actually. – She’s thinking that if she tells him she lives on the Keizersgracht then he won’t think – Mhmm? – That she’s some piss poor immigrant living in some neighbourhood no one has the guts to set foot in – – Not even the police. – That if she tells him she lives on the Keizersgracht right by the Photography Museum. – That if he knew she was here because she wanted to be. – That if he knew she was here because she could be. – That if he knew she was here because her whole life’s an adventure. – That if she told him about her Keizersgracht flat. – That if she told him about the nooks in the walls. – She doesn’t know yet about the nooks in the walls. – That if she told him about the nooks and the burrows. – That if she told him about the gas bill. – That’s it! Bingo. That is exactly what she needs to do. She needs to tell him about the gas bill. – She knows she needs to tell him about the gas bill. She knows she wants to show him the gas bill and have him explain what it says and how she ended up with that bill. Why she, of all people, should end up getting such a crazy high gas bill; and if she has got a 1,700 Euro gas leak on her hands then how is she not dead yet? She knows he can translate for her, but instead, she just starts going on about her flat on the Keizersgracht; the canal-facing window; the chopped tree with a baby shoes hanging from it, and instead of telling him just how much she adores that view from that window; instead of telling just him how incredibly fortunate she feels, having found a flat on the Keizersgracht; instead, she comes out with, – “These views don’t look anything like the landscapes of my childhood.” Thump thump… – Pulse is dropping. – Is the foetus in distress? – Pulse is dropping. – She could also tell him she wrote The Starling Paradox. – Represented the Netherlands with pride! – Ben ik van duitsen bloed!!! [bell chimes] Dutch for “I am of German bloodline”, a line from the Dutch national anthem. When asked to write to sing their national anthem, she rewrites the lyrics to say “Ben ik van duitsen bloed”. “I am of Jewish bloodline”. – Will the audience please rise – [bell chimes] – Ben ik van duitsen bloed!!! – When we were kids, every Saturday, we’d drive to Michmoret Beach, and on our way back, in the evening, just when it started to get dark, we would see all the flocks of starlings through the car window. – He’d like to gift her his childhood landscapes. – Starlings all fly in unison in the same direction and then, all at once – in pitch-perfect synchronicity, they’ll change direction. And it’s not as if they do that to entertain the humans. Oh no. It’s not some perfectly-timed, flawlessly-choreographed performance delivered by transient guests; no sir; because this is not the theatre! And we are not the audience. Oh no, no, no, no… they don’t know we’re watching, and not only do they not realise we’re watching, they couldn’t care less about any one of us. – Mhmm… – It’s how they defend themselves. – Ah… – In a blink of an eye, the flock which not two seconds ago was this tightest, roundest mass cutting across the sky; it opens wide, creating this backdraft it opens wide, creating this backdraft
that flicks the predator right on its back. that flicks the predator right on its back. – Pow! – When he hears she’s from Israel, he smiles this right wicked smile. – He loves her militant streak. – For god’s sake, she’s a violinist! – Could be the army, or the kibbutz, or this collective sense of paranoia… – He’s fantasising about her out in the desert, M16 in her hand. – Israelis have got a bit of a starling mentality, haven’t they? – That word… ‘starling’… it’s that word. – Right, because in Amsterdam, she could be the starling she is without having to follow the flock’s rules; timing; or direction. – She, herself, is a bit of paradox that needs resolving. – Uh-uh. It’s not a paradox. It’s a polyphony is what it is- every voice is its own independent, rhythmic entity with no voice playing second fiddle. – She is a violinist. – She is a paradox. She is the Starling Paradox. – Tell him how Jan slipped the envelope under your door. Tell him you opened that letter and found that gas bill. Ask him to translate; explain it to you; tell you what to do. – He’s having a peek inside her vagina, thinking to himself, “So this is what a Jewish cunt looks like.” – He’s having a sniff at her vagina, thinking to himself, “So this is what a Jewish cunt smells like” – She’s showing him the bill, saying… yes, she’s saying: – Look, – Gas. – Bill. – A thousand-seven-hundred Euros. – Tssssss…… – We got a pulse. – Tsssss…….. – Thump-thump-thump – Half one in the afternoon and she’s sat in front of her agent. Her agent, yeah, who’s in charge of representing the most promising talent to have come out of Europe’s conservatories in recent years. She’s sat in front of her, thinking: – Hang on; is she seriously asking me this? Are you seriously asking her this? – She is seriously asking her this; looking her dead-straight in the eye asking her without even flinching: – Yeah. – Mhmm? – She’s asking her the question that’s rendered her frozen; as if it was January again and the council was still busy picking the last remaining shards of broken champagne bottles left over from New Year’s on the side of the road in the snow. – She’s asking her a question that’s rendered her tongue paralysed; as if everyone, all at once forgot they ever spoke English and are making her – yes, literally making her, that is if she’d like to be understood – making her say it all in Dutch; no mistakes and not a hint of an accent. – She’s asking her – – Why don’t you compose a requiem for five-hundred and fifty one dead children? – Excuse me? – In Gaza. That’s what she’s asking her: Why don’t you compose a requiem for five-hundred and fifty one dead children in Gaza? – Why should she compose a requiem for five-hundred and fifty one dead children?! – Because they like it political is why. They’ll think she’s all woke, yeah? A proper Westerner; that there are others like her in that slaughterhouse she comes from; fancy her a beacon of light in the great darkness? When everyone knows, all of them, herself included; even she knows that when all’s said and done she is nothing more than a fig leaf hiding the very thing that everyone else would be that much happier never having to look at. – Why should I carry this giant flag around with me, everywhere I go? She’s asking… – She’s asking; even though she knows too well what the answer is. She knows that at the end of the day, she is nine months pregnant, and that even though it is recommended that during this ninth month, one doesn’t lift or carry any heavy loads say… like a flag – this final, ultimate month symbolises that at last, after all these years, she’s finally going to have a child. And that is not to say; oh no, in no way, shape or form is that to say that even if there are five-hundred and fifty one dead children; that even if one woman across the border has had three of her children die on her after a 250kg bomb fell right next door to them; none of that’s to say that she isn’t allowed her own baby – – And after all, it’s not as if she has to write a requiem for five-hundred fifty one dead children. – She; who’s barely even had a mother and father herself and who’s only ever wanted a small family to call her own; – She; who has seen everyone else pretty much give up on the prospect of her ever having children. – She of all people; but they don’t care about that, do they? No, sir; when’s she’s off scoring a concerto about love or painting a still life, or writing a story about a girl from whatever country. – Why do they keep smearing me with all this blood? She wonders. – She wonders because she is also a human being; and she is also a woman; and she also gets a little damp between her legs when a strange man’s lips brush against her ear on a plane, asking if he could possibly get through. – Huh? – Because after all, she hasn’t killed anyone, has she? – And it’s true; and it would be highly unfair to argue otherwise. That she didn’t push that button. – And it’s true that it’s nobody’s damn business, who she voted for in the general election. – And that she doesn’t have to answer to anyone about her reasons for serving in the army. – Why she would put on a uniform – What size – – Why she would salute some pot-bellied, bearded man with all his ranks on… – Stupid bitch… – Why she fucked those senior officers while they were waiting on updates from the field as this swarm of planes made in one country dropped bombs made in another country on the buildings of a third country. – Why she would sing the national anthem – With pride, no less – And keep her chin up with conviction, in a convergent harmony of rising chins, male phalluses and flags flying at full mast. – That’s her chin. – And her vagina. – And her teeth. – And her finger. – And that baby, it’s hers. – And it would have EU citizenship! – Yes it will! – Because it came into the world in Europe. One might say, it came into Europe. – And those are the rules! – Ha! – The rules… You do so love your rules! – And its father dumped his Aryan sperm inside her; with his 1.90m of pure muscle, high IQ and blue-eyed promises of genetic supremacy; complemented by an affinity for bureaucracy and genocide. – Pause! – Fermata – I suppose [groan] – We pause. – But why won’t she talk to her about her music? – About The Starling Paradox – Instead of talking to her about The Starling Paradox; instead of talking to her about her music; instead of telling her that it is none of her god damn business whether she does or does not compose a requiem for five-hundred and fifty one dead or not-so-dead children; instead – – Instead, she gets the bill out; that bill she couldn’t pluck up the courage to show that guy at the supermarket, or the doctor who had stuck that soundwave-y rod thing between her thighs; that bill she’s been schlepping round in her bag all day; that her neighbour, Jan had slipped under her door. That 1,700 Euro gas bill; that’s what she gets out to show her agent from her Contemporary Classical Music record label. – She does love the clicking of her heels along the Keizersgracht pavement. – Especially when she takes the rubbish out. – At night. – The night before collection day. – Four bin liners in hand – – Paper here; glass over here; plastic over there. – Selection! – Pause. – Why pause? – When she’s wearing her shoes with the small, wooden heels… – Those echoing shoes… – You gotta lay off the booze… – The echoing of Herman Brood’s heels… – That’s it! – When he comes out of his van, heads into the Paradiso; through the artists’ entrance. – Echoing in her heels! – Yes! – The echoing of – – Gerrit Rietveld’s heels! – Yes! – Clicking along the concert hall sidewalk as he’s brainstorming ideas for the Van Gogh Museum building. – Echoing in her heels! – Yes! – Spinoza’s heels! – Yes! – Otto- – Yes! – Huh?! Otto Frank’s heels – Yes! – Over on 263 Prinsengracht – Echoing in her heels. – Yes! – Oberscharführer SS Karl Silberbauer’s [bell chimes] The SD officer who was in charge of the squad that had stormed the Frank’s hideout over on 263 Prinsengracht – Heels! – Yes! – Echoing in her heels. – Yes! – How they echo- cho-cho-cho-cho-cho-cho…those shoes – Whose echo cuts through the envelope in the bag; the letter inside the envelope in the bag; the number on the letter inside the envelope in the bag. – Yes! – The echo in her shoes… – Oh yes! – Of ‘Death to the Jews…’ – Yes! – Echoing in her heels… – 8.07 in the evening. She’s circling a glass of red wine with those violinist fingers of hers and having a conversation with, who’s she talking to…? The guy or the girl behind the bar, [club music playing] or is it the… – – She’s got that friend with her; Victoria. – Victoria who she met at Dutch class? – Victoria who she met at Dutch class who then dragged her all the way across town to some place in the east where everyone was into freestyle storytelling; or that club over at the Overtoorn where they’re always showing the old Hollywood classics down in a basement. – All the foreigners hang out there – All the foreigners hang out there ‘cos that’s the only place; that’s right… among all the outcasts they feel themselves part of some cast… – Victoria was born in Belgrade. Or was it Sofia? Or Stockholm? – Born in Belgrade, right, but studied in Madrid. – Studied in Madrid, right, but then emmigrated to Milan. – Emmigrated to Milan but trained in India. – Set up shop in Amsterdam, right, because she fell in love with that Nigel fella, who was actually Irish. – She takes her show all over the world. – That feminist show of hers, right; with that big old skirt that sprawls out like the sea. – But not like the wavy if not stormy sea when it brushes up against Seagull Island on Tantura Beach. – Nah… more like the high waves that slam into the Black Sea coastline when Victoria is doing all that spinning in front of an audience. – When Victoria is on her bike, cycling through the streets of Calvinist Amsterdam. – Yes! – In her Russian fur hat! – Or in her fishnet stockings under her short shorts. – Yes! – No inhibitions whatsoever, that one, eh?! – No inhibitions whatsoever and also, doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of her. – She trains with Soviet like devotion. – Spinning round and round the world – Oh yeah! – She’s a hyper-feminist, she is. – Oh yeah! Her hyper-feminism is verging on man-hating. – Man-hating, oh yeah… And yet – – And yet? – And yet, sometimes she has to do the odd belly-dancing stint at some Lebanese restaurant – Belly-dancing; right… to make ends meet. – Does she get up in arms about Muslim women and their burkas or what?! – She’s packing some pretty xenophobic-sounding opinions. – She’s packing some pretty misogynistic-sounding opinions – She’s packing some pretty Islamophobic-sounding opinions – ‘Cos she’s got privilege. – ‘Cos she’s a woman. – ‘Cos she’s a foreigner. – ‘Cos she’s half Muslim herself. – ‘Cos she’s a refugee. – So Victoria; that same Victoria; she’s asking her, what’s with the envelope? – She grabs the envelope, yeah? Asking her, “What is this bill?” – She’s asking what the number means. – She hands it over to the bartender; get him to translate for her. – She hands it over to the hot, Dutch bartender at the Stanislavsky to translate for her. – She’s telling the hot, Dutch bartender at the Stanislavsky: she’s too embarrassed to ask, herself. – That she’s way too embarrassed to ask herself and that she’s been carrying this bill around with her all day. – Even though she has shown that bill; she absolutely has shown that bill to that agent of hers from the Contemporary Classical Music record label; and that agent; the same agent who’d suggested she compose a requiem for five-hundred and fifty one dead children could only half shrug her shoulders and mutter, “Ik heb geen flauw idée”. [bell chimes] “I haven’t the foggiest idea”. – Victoria sniggers and starts telling him about India. – He’s got the gas bill in his hands, trying to figure it out except he can’t, can he? Because he’s got Victoria with her tonic water standing there right in front of him banging on and on… – ‘Cos Victoria’s telling him about Madrid – ‘Cos’ Francesca’s telling him about Milan – ‘Cos Francesca’s telling him about Belgrade – About the war – About that Bosnian fella her father was hiding in their home. – About that Bosnian fella her father was hiding in their home who would touch her at night. – About her father who’d kicked her out for trash-talking that Bosnian soldier. – Until finally – Yes, finally; at last, Victoria pauses. She comes up for merciful air. – That’s right. She’s taken a pause; a ‘pausette,’ rather. And it is during her ‘pausette’ that the bartender says, “Your landlord’s not payed her bill.” – He’s saying, “This is a gas bill from 1944.” – And mumbling something about how “This sum total also includes fines and arrears interest.” – Two, eight, nine Keizersgracht, is that your address? – That is. – In fact her address. “I could try do some digging for you,” he tells her ‘cos he’s got this brother-in-law or neighbour or childhood friend whatever – – His squash partner! – His squash partner, that’s a good one! – He works at the council archives. – And he writes down her address, 289 Keizersgracht on a beer coaster and he writes down her landlady’s name on top of the address “Ingrid van Heugten” and the beer coaster he folds up twice then stuffs inside his coat pocket. That’s right the barman and he promises he’ll see what he can do. – And then Victoria starts telling him about this shelved Antonioni movie she was in as an extra in some Italian war house scene and Antonioni let her keep the corset! – She’s telling him about that time she sat nude for Jean Pierre Fournier and how he had a massive hardon in his baggies the whole time. – The way Jean Pierre; yeah, Jan Pierre she’s calling him; the way he committed her breasts to canvas with broad, nostalgic brushstrokes and then sold them off for 900,000 dollars in an auction at some upmarket New York City gallery. – But Victoria… oh, Victoria… all that work and not a single shekel, dollar, euro or goddamn Franc even to show for it! – But she will be; oh rest assured. Yes, she will – that is by far the most important thing – that Victoria be forever enshrined. [angelic music playing] – If she moves back home, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that she’d end up busking on a stool at Dizengoff Square with her violin. – No; there are other squares. – If she moves back home is there even a chance she’d be walking down the road and some rando would just come up to her and hand her a pile of classical music records. – Yes! – A gift? – No. – Or that it would start raining? – There is a chance. But only a slim one. – When she goes for a swim in Amsterdam’s public swimming pool, she feels like an 11- year-old again, standing in front of the mirror at the Galei-Gil swimming pool in Ramat Gan, parting her hair with a comb. Her hair’s all wet. It’s 9 degrees outside. “I really could do with a warme chocolade melk,” [bell chimes] – Hot chocolate. she says. – Goed zo! [bell chimes] Well done. – Dutch teacher loves you! – Wat eten de mensen in jouw eigen land? [bell chimes] What do the people eat in your home country? – Hummus en kip op een stok. [bell chimes] Hummus and skewered chicken – Goed zo! – Dutch teacher loves you! – And when she asked for a bob at the hairdresser’s and the man said, “Maar je hebt geen Europese haar” [bell chimes] “But you don’t have European hair” – She loves walking along the Amstel and just sit there and watch that clunky, gargantuan bridge split in two as if it were the Red Sea, rising into the air like a pair of black monster pricks just to let the one boat through below. She goes, “If I had a piemel”…. [bell chimes] – Cock – Dutch teacher loves you! – How about Jan? – Jan’s not surprised. Jan says he knows. – Jan’s got the envelope with the bill in his hand, and he’s telling her, “Wacht hier even” [bell chimes] – Wait right here. – Why won’t he ask her in? – 6pm. – Why won’t he offer her a cup of coffee? – Eten’s tijd! [bell chimes] – Dinner time – Glass of water? – ‘Cos he’ll be right back; he’s just popping into the next room and he’ll be right back, – Right, Jan’s back; Jan’s coming back and he’s handing her a parcel. – Jan’s back and he’s handing her a large parcel; a bunch of yellowing papers tied together with… what is that…some unspooled ribbon? – These come every few months, he says. – What does? – The letters. The envelopes, the bills that he has in his hand. The ones tied together with some piece of unspooled ribbon that he’d fetched from the next room. – Your landlady won’t pay these, he said. – Nor would her daughter pay these. – Nor would her granddaughter pay these. – This dates back to 1944 and all this time, no one’s been willing to settle the bill. No one, because no one can bring themselves to; morally that is; none of the parties involved possessed the sense of justice that would allow them to reach into their wallets or purses and just pay up. – Because… – Because she wasn’t home in those months! Mevrouw Ingrid van Heugten was not at home during those months when her gas was being used. He whispers… – Where was she? “A bloody riviera!” he snaps, “Where’d you think?!” Why’s he shouting? “Where’d you think she’d be?” And he slams the door. ‘Cos she wasn’t in those months. Those wretched months back in ’44. Those dark months back in ’44. – She was in the shaft. – The shaft? – The deep, dark shaft that was 1944. – Pause. – I didn’t say ‘genocide.’ – Pretty sure I did. I called ‘genocide.’ I absolutely did. She was there, the landlady, Mevrouw Ingrid van Heugten; she was down there in that shaft, all those months… she was there; she nearly was no more. – Where was she? – She was there. She was there. – She was there; that’s where she was. – There? – She was there. She was no more. – She was no more? – She was nearly no more. – She was there and was nearly no more. – Ingrid Van Heugten? – Her landlady. She made it back! – She came back from the shaft? – Ingrid Van Heugten? Yeah, she made it back from the shaft and she wouldn’t pay that bill. – “I’ll just go ahead and pay it,” she says, all of a sudden. – You?! – Well, yeah. It’s pretty straightforward. It suddenly dawns on her. “I’ll just pay it and that’ll be that.” – And Jan says: “You can’t pay this.” – Sure I can! I can pay this. – Jan replies, “Why should you have to pay it?” – And she says, “I’ll get my mum to pay it.” – Why should your mother have to pay? – I’ll get my nan to pay it. – Why should your grandmother have to pay it? – “I’ll just pay it, yeah? I’m going to pay it, and that’s that,” she tells him. And with that, we have ourselves a verdict. With that, she says, this debt will be settled once and for all. Enough already! – Over my dead body. – Over our six million dead bodies. – Pause. – Hang on. – Pause? Yeah, I call pause ‘cos if she wasn’t there then – Then who was using the gas? – It’s horrifying, ‘cos of the symbolism; ‘cos it’s gas. And you just keep on saying that word, “gas; gas; gas” just to amp up the horror, but at the end of the day, it’s all red tape really. Amsterdam’s post-war city clerks were no anti-Semites; no more than this one is. It’s not as if they all hated Mevrouw van Heugten. Quite the opposite – they saw her as an equal and as such, insisted that she too paid her bills just like everyone else. – Come again? – It’s what they call here “ambtenaar mentaliteit.” – Clerk mentality. – Let them call it ‘clerk’ mentality.’ I call it – – ‘The mentality that gave the Nazis free rein to just swoop in and murder seventy- five percent of the Netherlands’ Jewish population.’ – She wasn’t even a Jew. – Who, Mevrouw van Heugten? – Yes she was. She was a Jew. – She was not a Jew. – Then how’d she end up in Auschwitz, then? – Van Heugten’s not a Jewish name. – She was sent to Auschwitz… she was a Jew. – Pause! – Van Heugten? A Jew? Seriously? – Van Heugten, yeah. Maiden name was Cohen or Marcus or whatever but she married some Dutch Aryan fella; right; yeah; yeah, she married this Dutch Aryan fella named Meneer van Heugten. – No. uh-uh. – What? – She wasn’t a Jew. 4.55pm cycling en route to a town hall meeting at Waterlooplein – Right, right, okay…. – Okay what? – So she was married to a Dutchman, this Meneer van Heugten who was… what did he do – Account Manager at some steel factory? – No… he wasn’t an Account Manager. He was a lawyer representing Jews who’d lost their homes in the war. – He was a lawyer; they had their homes taken away in the war; he represented them. He defended them in these big, public trials that never did go their way in the end. – Oh, and he also represented some members of the Resistance. – Members of the Resistance; quite. Back in the early days of the war, when there was still at least some semblance of a balanced justice system. – You’re standing up for all of those political, ethnic, fucked up, cast-out minorities. – Those who’d been purged. – Who’d been fucked. – Who’d been relegated to rat and subhuman status. – The queers – The Jews – The cripples – The cripples and also those with the skin conditions. – Even married them. – All of them?! – Mevrouw Ingrid van Heugten, who needed him. – Mevrouw Ingrid van Heugten whose name is on this gas bill. – Mevrouw Ingrid van Heugten, may the good Lord rest her soul. – She was disabled. – She was not disabled. – She was ill. – Nope. – Deformed. – Nope. – A schizophrenic – – She was none of these things. – She had this skin condition; these lesion type things all over her skin, looked like leprosy… – No! – She was beautiful and regal. He didn’t just fall in love with her over nothing. – She was beautiful, and regal, and strong, and she had a pair on her! Balls like a superhero’s. – Cojones! [bell chimes] – Spanish for “balls”. – Palle! [bell chimes] Italian for “balls”. – Gogan! [bell chimes] Kurdish for “balls”. – Ballen – Huh? – ‘Ballen.’ The word’s ‘ballen’ in Dutch, like ‘bitterballen.’ [bell chimes] A meaty Dutch snack containing a mix of cow and veal mince. Butter, parsley a bit of salt, pepper. – Fine. But she was Jewish. She was a well-off, educated Jew who held a prominent position… – She was well-off, educated, held a prominent position which she was stripped of the moment war broke out – – Exactly. – Except she wasn’t a Jew. – She was a Jew! That’s why she was sent to Auschwitz! Because she was a Jew! – She held a prominent position she was stripped of just when the war began, but she wasn’t Jewish. – And Auschwitz? – Yeah, sure, but that wasn’t ‘cos she was Jewish. – It wasn’t? – No! No, no one wants to hear about the Jews anymore. It’s been rehashed, replayed, regurgitated… Jews are… uh, how shall I put it? – Jews are passé. – Jews are, that’s it! Jews are passé! – And Auschwitz? – Auschwitz, sure, but it wasn’t because she was Jewish – She wasn’t? – She was a gypsy. – She was not a gypsy! – A lesbian gypsy with communist beliefs – No! They took her to Auschwitz because she was a fighter. – She was a fighter; right … she fought with the Resistance… – She wasn’t a Jew? – No. She joined the Resistance. – Did she now? – She did indeed. That’s her story. In fact, she was a very dominant figure in the Resistance. – I see… hiding dozens of them in that nook in the wall. – Other nooks too. – There were other nooks? – And burrows. Other nooks and burrows. Whole burrows inside those walls. – Burrows… I see… burrows, right. – But surely, there had to be at least one Jew in one of those burrows. – Okay fine, so maybe there was one Jew. Ten even. Hiding in burrows right here in the walls of your study. – In the walls of the room where you compose your music. – In the walls of the room where you practise your music. – In the walls of the room where you practise your fingering. – In the walls of the room where your Dutchman practised his fingering. – In the walls of the room where you conceived that child of yours. – In the walls of the room where you plan on having that child of yours. – In the walls of the room where you dreamt up, that’s right, dreamt up The Starling Paradox. – That’s right. – In the walls of the room where you fancy yourself part of a long line of Europeans. – A long line of violinists. – Just more sophisticated. – More informed. – More cultured. – Yes, more cultured than your “high-society” Tel Avivian who likes to hold her red wine by the stem – the glass’s stem, that is – A glass that may look like it’s crystal – but isn’t really – crystal, that is. – In this room, that nook in this room; Jews hiding in the burrows that both Meneer and Mevrouw van Heugten had dug up in the walls.
– And one Jewess in particular. – Is that so? – One Jewess, yes. One Jewess in particular who’s been hiding in the burrows. This Jewess, what’s she called… – The one he fell in love with. – Who, Meneer van Heugten? – He’s in love with her. Always kissing her whenever his wife, Mevrouw van Heugten goes off on covert Resistance operations. – With a Jew? In hiding?! – Yes. Married to Ingrid van Heugten. A brave fighter with the Resistance. – He values her. – He idolises her! – But his heart belongs to another. A Jewess. – Whose name is… what is it, Bertin? – Yes. Bertin. Jewish girl. 5.25pm an appointment at the town hall – In the aforementioned time period, Mevrouw Ingrid van Heugten was being held
in Auschwitz death camp. And someone else, who was not Jewish, could be Dutch, or even German for that matter; a Nazi soldier perhaps, some Nazi bureaucrat even, was staying illegally in her flat, using her utilities –
the electricity, and the gas! The gas! – The gas, I see. – Whilst she was in Auschwitz, in the gas chambers! – I am aware of that, Miss. – Well why the penalty then?! – Because the bill has yet to be settled! – But, I am not paying this bill if Hitler himself comes knocking on my door. – Miss, if we could please leave Hitler out of this and focus on the matter at hand. – But this is the matter at hand! This absolutely is the matter at hand. – The council is well within its rights to expect full compensation for all outstanding bills and penalties to which it is entitled. – The council’s what? Well within its rights, is it? – What I am saying is that whatever excuses one might come up with as a way of avoiding payment… – Excuses?! Her own property was seized by the – – … including the argument that one’s own property was seized by the Nazis, is invalid. Bills and all subsequent penalties for failure to settle them on time, must be paid. Regardless of whether a third party had been occupying the property, legally or otherwise. – I think you might be missing the point here. Could be that you’re too young or maybe you don’t know your history all that well – Mevrouw van Heugten was in Auschwitz during those months. Ever heard of that place? Name sound familiar? – Auschwitz!!! Is she having a contraction? – Auschwitz!!! – She’s having a contraction. – She was on her way to the gas chambers… Someone else was staying in her flat using her… – Gas. Tssss… – Someone’s gotta pay. – Yes, but who? – It doesn’t matter to me, Miss, one way or the other, whoever pays this bill, just so long as it is paid already. Too many years this has been dragging on, unsettled. – 1.03am.
A dream in which a soldier is taking a shit under a cherry tree. – Look mum, I am standing right under a cherry tree.
I am going right under a cherry tree and eating cherries off the tree at the same time.
I am simultaneously fertilising the tree and eating off it! How are you not laughing? – Enter Jan limping and covered in black soot. – Where are you?!
– Soldier looks up to the sky: – There go the starlings. A flock of starlings! That is so awesome! – A shadow suddenly cast over him.
– No wait, those aren’t starlings… those are Phantoms… they’re ours, mum… look! You can tell by the Star of David on the side of the plane, see that?
They’re Phantoms! “Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” – The phantom planes start dropping bombs. – What are you doing?! Mummy! What are they doing?! – Ik Hou van je [bell chimes] – “I love you” – They’re one of us! Soldier, hold your fire! Mummy! They’re one of us! [A violin plays against the backdrop of the bombing campaign.] [The soldier laughs] – I’ve given birth to a soldier! I’ve given birth to a soldier! – He won’t be a soldier. He will go to the University of Amsterdam and study
all about Ancient China, human rights, classical studies, musicology… – He will be a soldier. – He will not be a soldier!!! – He’ll want to be a soldier. – He’ll want to be a cellist. – Linguist. – Water engineer – Dancer? – He’ll want to be in uniform. – Over my dead body. – Wrap himself in the flag. – Over our six million dead bodies. – 2.30am a sleepless night – They took her to Auschwitz. – Who, Bertin? – Yeah, Bertin. They took her to Auschwitz. Took her to Auschwitz and he lost the plot. – Who did? – Went crazy missing her. – Went crazy with guilt. – Went crazy from all the sneaking around; on his wife; Resistance fighter, Ingrid van Heugten. – But that Jew, Bertin. She was his everything. – Fine. – That Jewess; she meant everything to him, did she? – She did. And she was pregnant. By him. – She was pregnant. In Auschwitz, right. – She went to Auschwitz, pregnant and he was going crazy with worry; with anxiety; desperate to save her and the baby. – Because he had no children by her, Ingrid van Heugten that is… – The landlady… – The landlady, yes. His wife. He had no children by her. – And he wanted children. Especially during the war. Life is precious and people realise they do actually want children. – And his wife… she didn’t…? – I found this stuffed in one the nooks in the walls. – What’s this… – Erika 8. The Nazis used to type on these… – What, in Amsterdam? – Amsterdam is – – Not like Berlin. – Not like Warsaw. – You won’t see her stripping round here. – Who? – She doesn’t walk these streets shouting out stuff in Yiddish. – She? – The Holocaust. – Over here, she floats. All thin and translucent. – Like the train of a bridal gown. – Or a veil. – Floats? What like some sort of milk crust over the canals? – More like an inflamed tear duct. – I can hear her laugh. A feminine, woman’s laughter. – A woman who knows how beautiful she was. – Beautiful? The Holocaust? – I can feel her. Mevrouw van Heugten. I can feel her sweat, her terror. – It’s her hiding place. – I become one with her. With the building; the city; the whole world. – You think you know who you are? Go on, ask him. – He’s sleeping. – You think you really know who you are, huh? Really and truly. Genetically. Biblically. Step right in. Come inside. – Inside where? – Inside my burrow. – In here? – Come inside. – He’s still in love with you. – It’s collective guilt is what it is. – He’s drawn to you. – Vile philo-Semite. – Look at the way he’s got his hand right over your belly.
– He does love his Jews, doesn’t he? And his gypsies too. Loves his blacks, and people whose skin reeks with bold-coloured spices. – He loves how they need him. – He loves how their palms perspire. – He comes inside my burrow. – He loves it when it’s damp. – 4 am inside the burrow. – I am here. – In the burrow? – Where else then? – Outside, on the canals, in the streets, the flowers. At Museum Square, like everyone else. Some paper cone stuffed with chips or Super Skunk. – It’s only the epidermis. – The burrow? – It’s the core. Where her DNA lies. – The burrow? – This is where the maggots form. – I am in awe of your totality. – You know that film about that actor…? – A small door, just like this one; takes whoever walks through it right inside their own head. – You get inside your head. – Your seed. – Your semen? – The seed of creation. – He wants to go in. – Not now. – But why? – Not now. – Why though? – Someone’s already in there. – Who? – Her husband. – Her husband? – Meneer van Heugten. He’s a turncoat. – Meneer van Heugten? A turncoat? – A turncoat, right! – He walks into the local bar; the local bar that’s swarming with Gestapo officers. – Swarming! – Swarming, yes, all Gestapo officers and on this folded up beer coaster he writes down: “289 Keizersgracht, Amsterdam” – 289 Keizersgracht! And underneath adds the name: “Ingrid van Heugten” His own wife. Yes! ‘Cos he’s been thinking about it for weeks. For weeks now, he’s been driving himself crazy trying to figure out a way to get her back from there – Bertin. – He’s selling out his wife. – He’s writing his wife’s name down Ingrid van Heugten and their address 289 Keizersgracht, Amsterdam on his beer coaster and pops it in, yeah? He stuffs it into the Gestapo officer’s black furry coat pocket at the local bar and whispers: “Resistence men are hiding out there”. – He’s giving her address – The violinist’s address? – She’s at 289 Keizersgracht, Amsterdam, right? – Right. – Her address then? – On the condition they locate his little Jewish piglet and deliver her right back into his arms… – Precisely. That is the condition. That is the condition. – While he himself just takes off. – They’ll not survive without him. – No way. – Obviously not. – And then, his wife; Mevrouw van Heugten, she gets hauled off to Auschwitz whereas his Jewish lover – – Bertin. – Bertin they let go. In exchange for – what was it, four…five…six members of the Resistance? – Turncoat piece of scum. – ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ my arse! – They’re kicking our door in. Our door. The front door of our home. – The door you open to go to work. – The door you open to go to the market for some fresh salmon from the North Sea and some asparagus stalks, paying in Euros and saying ‘Doei’ to the stall owners in the sweetest little foreign girl’s Dutch. – The door you wrote ‘Here live…’ on in Dutch; in your own handwriting. How d’you spell ‘Wonen’ – [bell chimes] – Dutch for ‘live’. – Anyway? – The door you open to go down the stairs with your bin liner and the envelope that’s got your niece’s address on it and the word ‘ISRAEL’ written all in caps; where you’ve stuffed this little spoon and a tiny Dutch cow made from baked Fimo you’d picked up from this small shop on the Waterlooplein. – They have an exact address and they know what they’re after. – They’re kicking the door in and are heading straight for this room. Mevrouw van Heugten and three other Resistance men sleep in here. – Here, in our bedroom, where we put up those Kandinsky prints we’d picked up at the Museum of Modern Art in Dubrovnik. – Here, in our bedroom, where we have that photo of us kissing on a boat on the canals at Pride. – Here, in our bedroom, where we did Poppers the moment before the mother of all climaxes. – And Meneer van Heugten? – He’s not here. – He’s not? – It so happens that he isn’t around tonight. It so happens that tonight he won’t be sleeping at home. He’s telling his wife he’s gotta go off somewhere to umm… – – Arnhem. – Arnhem? – Arnhem or Zwolle… whichever. Point is, he’s going away on business. – That’s what he’s telling her. – And she’s staying here. Sleeping. In our bed. – Pause. – The longest – Ever. – Nothing there!!! – They’re after the rats that are hiding in the burrows – – In the walls; the drain pipes; – Those rats! – Those sub-humans. – They come bursting into the flat, waving their nightsticks about, hauling off Mevrouw van Heugten and charging into this room, right here, kicking the door in and discovering the first burrow. They take the people away. – Some they shoot right in the head – Whoever they feel like – Yeah. – And that’s it. – What d’you mean, that’s it? – That’s it. – They don’t destroy the other nooks and burrows? – No. Why would they do that? – Well, to keep others from using them. – Why bother? They just stay in the flat and live there. – Your flat. – The flat you chose out of all the flats you’d been to see in all of Amsterdam’s coolest neighbourhoods. – The flat over the canal. Because you love the echoing of your wooden heels, don’t you? Clicking along the canal sidewalk.
– The flat – where you keep your granny-bike locked right by the front door with this lock you’ve learned to open with just the one hand. Even when you’ve got gloves on. – The flat whose rooms you went in and out of, laptop in hand, giving your friends back in Israel a Skype tour. – The flat where you learnt to bake Dutch speculaas
with cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and came
knocking on your neighbour, old man Jan’s door, tray of cookies in hand, but he wouldn’t answer the door; oh no, he wouldn’t answer the door even when he was sat in his living room playing Jacques Brel’s greatest hits on an old gramophone. – Your flat is being claimed by the regime. They work there. And eat there. And sleep there. – Using the gas. – Using the gas to boil their fucking water. – Using the gas to warm up their putrid bodies. – Using the gas to fry up their heathen pork chops. – Mmm… lekker [bell chimes] – Dutch for “yummy”. – Cunts. – In your own home. – Those cunting cunts! – And never paying the bill. – In your own home where you’ve always thought, “What if Jews used to hide in here?” – Nazis lived in your own home!!! – Didn’t see that one coming, did you? – Nazis!!! – Pause! – Nazis!!! – Pause!!!!!! – Pause, Pause. – 3.25am: going into labour in the bedroom. – And then what? – And then the Jewess, Bertin, is home from Auschwitz. – And by the looks of her – well, what’s left of her, you can see — – That foetus inside her is still alive. – The foetus is still alive?! – And she’s due any day now. Having their baby. – Right here. Right here in this room. On this bed. – But there are Nazis still living in this flat! – True, but during the day, when the Nazis are off Naziying about, then she lets herself back in the flat; she, Bertin and Meneer van Heugten, let themselves back in so that they can grab some of their stuff. – Grab her clothes that she’d stuffed in the walls. – Grab her papers that she’d stashed in the burrows. – Grab her cameras. – Her cameras? – That’s right, she’s got cameras. They documented everything; the nooks, the burrows, and they’ve come back to get their cameras. And then – – “I’m just going to sit down on this bed for a second,” – She says. – No, that was me. – “I feel it’s time. It’s time,” – She says. – No, that was me! Me! – Meaning what? – Meaning me. – Meaning what? – Meaning it’s time. – Time for what? – It’s time! – Aaaarrrggghhh!!!! – Six short breaths! Come on! – 4.22 am. Hospital. Monitor. – Di!!! [bell chimes] – Hebrew for enough, no more. – Who’s she saying that to? – Di!!! – She wants her baby to die?! – Mummy! Mummy! – Mummy’s not here, baby girl. Mummy’s far, far away. – Push – Mind your farts! – In Europe, we give birth gracefully. – And then they take her away. – Her? – Her, they take her away. The Nazis take her back, and the baby they leave behind. – They take her back? – And the baby, they leave behind. – Her, they take back to Auschwitz and the baby they leave behind. That’s right, the baby they just leave on the bed, in the flat, in that room in the flat; in that room in your flat where you change your spotless, speckless baby’s pastel, tetra nappies you’d picked up for her at some babywear shop over on De Pijp. They leave her alone on that bed because they know she’ll die. They know she’ll die in a way we can’t even bring ourselves to imagine. – No, we can’t even bring ourselves to imagine that! – ‘Cos it’s a baby – ‘Cos it’s a baby – But for the Nazis, she wasn’t a baby. – She was a maggot. – A what now? – A maggot. She was no more than a maggot. – And maggots you can squash with the heel of your shoe. – Maggots you can gas with insecticide. – ISIS – What in the world has ISIS got to do with anything?! – Dunno… my mind just suddenly went ‘ISIS.’ – 4.57 am. At home. Cradling baby in arms. – War’s over. – Just in time. – In time? – Just in time. Because Mevrouw van Heugten is still alive. The war’s about to be over and she’s still alive. – The Nazis have left her flat. – Scurried of like a pack of rats – Like a pack of bottom feeders – Like a pack of degenerates – Scurried off like a pack of degenerates. and Mevrouw van Heugten – – Has made it back from Auschwitz. – Back here. To this room. This door. – This floor. – These walls. – She’s come back here. To your flat, yeah, she’s back; let herself in, and what’s she doing now? – Is she reaching out to those three… four… five… resistance men her husband had ratted out? – Yeah, she’s reaching out to them. And, she’s reaching out to him too. – Him? – Her husband. – She’s reaching out to him? – She’s telling him she’s forgiven him. – She’s forgiven him because…? She’s forgiven him for…?
She’s forgiven him? How? – No, she hasn’t forgiven him. She hasn’t forgiven him at all. Not in the slightest. She’s only telling him she’s forgiven him and now she’s asking him to come home. And anyway, it’s not as if he’s forgiven himself. – He’s come back to tell her that. – But he doesn’t tell her that, does he? He comes home and doesn’t tell her that at all. He comes home and she’s not even there. Instead – – Instead, there are two men there; two Resistance men. And they have him sit down; right here, on this chair. – He sits on the chair, right… And…? – And drinks from the glass they give him. – Glass of what… Jenever? – It is a Jenever glass, yes, but what’s in it… that’s not Jenever. He knows what’s in that glass. He knows full-well what’s in that glass and he knows he had it coming. He knows the Resistance playbook. – So he downs it. No bargaining. – It takes, what… two, three minutes? – Two. – Two minutes. And that’s that. – That’s that. – Just the way they like to do things over here. Clean. Quick. Clean. – The end? – No, that’s not the end! Because he’s not dead. Meneer van Heugten isn’t dead. Even after he sold out his own wife to the Nazis; even after he sold out three Resistance fighters to the Nazis; even after he sold out all these people to the Nazis;
still, no one would look at him as this base, loathsome, immoral slug of a man, because he happened to save the woman he loved, and that woman so happened to be a Jew. – All hail the Righteous Among the Nations! – He’s alive? – He’s not dead, because he knew. – He knew, that’s right. He knew she wouldn’t forgive him. Because he knows his wife. – He knew they’d be waiting. He knew the Resistance playbook. He wrote the Resistance playbook. – He believed in the Resistance playbook. – And he knew. – Oh yeah, he knew that wasn’t Jenever. – He knew it was – – Sodium Thiopental – Vecuronium Bromide – Potassium Chloride – But he downed it like a man. – Downed it like a man’s man. – He downed it like he was owning up to all of it; the deception, the love, the betrayal, all of it. – But he wouldn’t die? 43 whole minutes. And he wouldn’t die. – Okay… 43 whole minutes during which he was what, convulsing to death? – Yeah. 5.52 pm he started to convulse. All the way till 6.35 pm. 43 whole minutes during which he was twitching and writhing, moaning and groaning… – Drooling. – Yeah, drooling; drooling, and foaming. – Foaming; what like, foaming at the mouth? – Yes, foaming at the mouth. And with all that foam; with all that foam he had gushing out of his mouth, somehow he still managed to talk. – He did talk, that’s right. Talked about his childhood; how no one ever really saw him; never saw his pain; never saw his loneliness. – His loneliness, his otherness. And it was because of that? ‘Cos of all of that, that he developed this strong sense of identification with all those minorities. – So strong was his sense of identification with all
of those minorities that he went ahead and studied
Law so that he could represent all those subhuman fuckwits and degenerates. – And it was because of that he ended up falling in love with a Jew; and saving her. – He was vomiting too. – Vomiting, and drooling; oh, and he also lost control of all his bodily functions. – Had lost all control of all his bodily functions and even though he had no control of any of his orifices,
even though that was the case, he still tried to get up. – Too right he did. Tried to get up several times, three, four times. – Fourteen. Fourteen times he tried to get up. – And he fell down. – And he convulsed. – And apologised. – He did not apologise. No. He got up, he fell down, did his little convulsing routine; pissed himself 14 times, 43 minutes straight, but there was no apology. There was a lot of explaining, and describing, and emoting, but no apologies. – He’s not the apologising kind. He’s more the ‘drink-the-mock-Jenever-you’re-served- like-a-man-who-can-own-up-to-his-decisions’ kind. He’s the kind to down his drink like a man who knows how to own up to his decisions and convulse to death until his muscles are all atrophied and have ceased all motor functions. – Until he’s gone limp. – Until his heart succumbs to all the toxins. – And the body? – The body was dumped. – Yeah, they dumped the body; dumped it where? – Here. – Here. Right here. Out the window of your Keizersgracht flat. – Your canal-facing window. – The window facing the canal you like to watch through the strands of rain whilst mulling over your partiture that’s due the following week. – Through the window, yes; the one framing everything that’s nothing to do with your own childhood. That’s the one. – The window overlooking the Kaiser’s canal. Your favourite canal out of all of them. The canal with the little bridge over it where you fell in love. – That canal, right… which’ll be the very first thing your child sees that first time they come out of the house. – Which you will walk over every rain-free morning,
whisper-humming your Hebrew nursery rhymes… – Ken La’zipor Bein Ha’ezeem [bell chimes] – There sits a bird’s nest amidst the trees. – On the canal, the Kaiser’s canal. Just under the bridge. – No! – Under the bridge. – No, anything but under the bridge… – But that’s the way it happened. They dumped his body under the bridge. – Under the bridge? Under our bridge? – Under our bridge. On the Keizersgracht. – I am a common Starling. – Right here, under our bridge? On the Keizersgracht. – Kut. [bell chimes] – An exclamation one makes when something bad or annoying has happened, e.g. damn, shit, cunt. – The end? – No. Not the end. It isn’t the end because he isn’t dead. – He isn’t dead. He’s not the dying kind. He only played dead. He only played dead and he made sure he injected himself with the antidote to whatever concoction was inside that so-called glass of Jenever he knew they’d have ready for him. – He injected himself with the antidote, that’s right; because he knew exactly the type of compound that was going to be in there, because he wrote their playbook, he came up with the Resistance code; he came up with the punishment for traitors… he came up with everything. Everything he was against, everything he was forced to turn against, all of it was his brainchild. So he made sure he injected himself ahead of time, and he played dead when they dumped him in the canals. He went under and waited. – He waited. That’s right. He waited. Went under and waited. – Went under and…? Waited? – Went under. The man dived under two blocks’ worth of canals, just like that; with all that Sodium Thiopental, Vecuronium Bromide and Potassium Chloride coursing through his system,
just like that; dived under and across the canals and when he got to the Lauriergracht… yeah, it was at the Lauriergracht he finally stuck his head out of the water, waited in the dark; under a small bridge. He was waiting for – – He was waiting for them – his executioners, to leave. To get out of the flat. And then he went back. – Went back? – Back to the flat; his flat; the one above; the one above yours; his flat. – Jan’s? – Yours and Jan’s used to be the one flat, originally. So yeah, he went back to his and Ingrid van Heugten’s flat, and the one downstairs – yours that is – he rented out. And upstairs; yes, upstairs… the flat upstairs, that’s where he lives. To this day. – Jan? van Heugten? – Jan. Jan van Heugten. Living up there to this very day. Sipping his Jenever as we speak; watching some Spelling Bee on the television
and playing his Jacques Brel records. [music playing] – And is he…? – He is. He absolutely is. – Not paying that bill? – He’s not paying that bill. – The end.