It’s March and everyone at WOW-EFFECT Theater is working hard on their part of this years production – The Lost Boy. In the last couple of months WOW-EFFECT Theater has welcomed many new members who have taken up a variety of tasks within the group, but things started out a little bit more wacky.
We talked to some of our members, Céline, Haoyu, Jeroen, Anna and Piyush, about their involvement in the group, our new play and how they found their place within the project.
“Acting is a bit about going out of your comfort zone”
Someone who has learned how to enjoy being thrown into cold water is Haoyu Yang. She first joined the group as a backstage volunteer during WE’s previous project Alice vs. Wonderland, and now plays James M. Barrie’s wife, Mary Ansell Barrie.
“I like my role as Mary, because she is nothing like me! It just feels cool to feel free to be a totally different person.”
Haoyu is a recent graduate of Business Administration and comes to rehearsals all the way from Deventer, where she lives. After seeing the group and being part of both Alice vs. Wonderland and the short play A Fair Farewell, she joined for one specific reason: “The feeling of being integrated to the community was there from the start.”
One of the people who make all the newcomers feel welcome is certainly Piyush Sharma. He has been a member of WOW-EFFECT since the very first project , Bedtime Stories in 2014. Now he has landed yet another leading role – the role of James M. Barrie, author of the legendary book “Peter Pan”.
He joined the group shortly after arriving in the country.
“I joined the group within a month of my arrival in Nijmegen so this is actually my foundation in Nijmegen. I always relate my times here to the theater group. I always feel that I am a part of it and it’s a part of me.”
“The feeling of being integrated to the community was there from the start.”
Piyush faces a different challenge this season as the lead actor. He says in the previous years he had time to fool around a bit during the rehearsals, which changed this season as he is always on stage.
“I sometimes call myself an attention whore. I can’t complain with regards to that now in this play. The strongest feeling this gives me is responsibility. Theater is teamwork. I myself cannot do anything and am worthless if the people around me are not present.”
During his years in WOW-EFFECT, Piyush has seen many people come and go – directors too. He says he has learned from everyone he met in the group immensely and has grown as a person, too. Still, there’s also a bittersweet element:
“From when we started 4 years ago to now, only 4 people stayed. I still feel comfortable with the group. It is of course not easy to see some very good friends leave year after year but that also reminds you how life is, especially in expat environments.”
And the expat environment is definitely noticeable even outside of the core group of WOW-EFFECTers. Piyush says that his friends come and watch him on stage and explains that people are especially excited to see a performance in English, which is a relatively rare opportunity in Nijmegen. He has a wide variety of friends who follow WE performances: expat, Dutch, Indian, CouchSurfers, cricket mates and colleagues.
“The strongest feeling this gives me is responsibility.”
“A lot of people in the West do have some skills mostly in music or sports, but theater is not that common. It’s a team effort and you have to be in front of a large audience, so I think it is something brave. I appreciate it myself and I see people around me do too. It also shows our personality perhaps; I do mention it in my Tinder profile, for example!”
It’s April now and the project will only go on for another three months. That means three months of rehearsal, of building friendships, leaving comfort zones and learning from each other. At the end of this season, members might leave for a variety of reasons, but nobody in the group is actively sad. Still to this day, many of our old members are still in touch and the friendships build on stage have translated to friendships outside of it too. Sometimes even when you’re living in different countries.
We may come from different lands and cultures or travel to other ones, but once you are in the community, you are always in the community.