Esther Scheldwacht (53) played in two major theater productions this year in which her Indonesian origins were central: My Mother’s Century of The National Theater and lighter than me van Korthals Stuurman Theater Agency. The latter could be seen on Sunday afternoon in the theater in Rotterdam, the city where Scheldwacht developed as an actress, including at the RO Theater.
How are you now?
“I was biting my lip at the closing round of applause on Sunday to keep from crying. I was almost ashamed of it. Come on, I thought, there are really worse things going on now, but it’s hard for me. I’m so intertwined with what I do. At the start of the corona crisis I thought: I can always go into healthcare or education, but since this year I think: no way, I will continue to act and write until my last breath, because that is what I am. It may sound romantic, but maybe a crisis makes you romantic.”
What goes well, what doesn’t?
“The funny thing is: it seems like I thrive very well in a crisis. People often said to me during previous lockdowns: how bad for you, you probably have nothing to do now. But I was always insanely busy.
2021 was above all a special year for me, with a large production as My Mother’s Century, which has even made it onto TV and lighter than me, which really feels like a mission: it’s about a njai, a kind of Indonesian primal mother, whose stories can hardly be found in the history books. While it concerns all of us, because it is our national history.
“I even wrote a letter to the king. I had never done that before, but I really wanted to invite him when we lighter than me play in The Hague. It would be a nice gesture if he comes: we will play on December 19 and 20 – if it goes ahead of course, which I fear.”
What is your biggest concern?
“I am particularly concerned about young people in the art sector. This is very tough for them. One of my sons is an actor, the other a musician: those boys should now be able to make flying hours. My youngest son graduated from the Herman Brood Academy during corona for three remote teachers. That is not the case: you graduate in a packed concert hall.”
What do you need to make 2022 better than 2021?
“I hope all the time that we will get something out of it. That we will fly less, but also that we pay more attention to each other. I would wish everyone a greater inner civilization. And art can play a major role in that.”
Also read episode 1. Tim Fransen: ‘I like to contribute, but this feels completely nonsensical’