12:30 pm De Kleine Komedie, Amsterdam
“Guys, keep your distance, eh?” In front of De Kleine Komedie in Amsterdam are two security guards who look suspiciously like comedians Bert Visscher and Jochem Myjer. It is half an hour before Kapsalon De Kleine Komedie will open its doors once, in order to protest against the extended closure of the cultural sector. The two men, like so many ailing artists, temporarily have a second job and manage the visitors and the incoming press in the right direction. Myjer: “We are half security, and maybe we will go on stage for a while.”
Following reports about enforcement at @kapsalontheater Bert Visscher and I will pick up our old security profession again and ensure that everything runs neatly and orderly. I have a brown belt in judo and Bert jumps twenty meters high… out of position. #Hair Salon Theater pic.twitter.com/JOqCVThhv2
— Jochem Myjer (@jochemmyjer) January 19, 2022
The night before, when mayor Femke Halsema announced that he was going to enforce it, they were still a bit confused, says Visscher. “But we just keep going.” Myjer: „That is also possible, because we are a hair salon. If it were a theater, it would of course never be allowed.” Visscher: “All the rules have been met. And if something goes wrong, we are there.” Myjer: “The strongest comedians in the Netherlands.”
Kapsalon Het Concertgebouw opened earlier in the day without disturbing enforcers. Those waiting for a haircut could listen to Symphony no. 2 by Charles Ives that the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Susanna Mälkki. The Concertgebouw did receive an official warning from the municipality of Amsterdam afterwards.
— The Concertgebouw (@Concertgebouw) January 19, 2022
The action day with hair salon theater and museum gym started with a widely criticized tweet from the new State Secretary for Culture, Gunay Uslu, who said he understood “the cry for help” of artists, but nevertheless warned that “the opening of society must go step by step”. With the well-known clincher: “Culture is high on the agenda.”
You should not read your calendar upside down
— Henk Spaan (@HenkSpaan9) January 19, 2022
In response, the optimistic mantra of the sector was sounded everywhere via social media: the protest action is playful, light-hearted and responsible, taking into account the rules, such as theaters and museums that have always followed: mouth caps and checks. With an explanation of the action: these measures can no longer be explained. 85,000 shops have opened and 450 museums must remain closed. What, then, is the danger of the ‘extra trips’, which the government keeps referring to? Two years of frustration from corona policy plays a role in this, in which the cultural sector is always the first to close, while there are hardly any infections.
About seventy theaters and about a hundred museums took part in the campaigns. In theaters people can get a haircut or massage, in museums they can do yoga or participate in a boot camp class. The clever reasoning: hairdressers, massage studios, nail salons and gyms are allowed to open after all
After consultation in the Security Council, mayors announced on Tuesday evening that they would maintain the corona measures, causing tension everywhere whether and when boas would intervene. In the end, many municipalities settled the matter with a warning, but in a few places the actions were actually prevented or stopped, such as in Nijmegen, Enschede, Hengelo, Culemborg, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Venlo.
— Saskia Noort (@saskiaoort) January 19, 2022
13:00 Muziekgebouw, Eindhoven
The 380 seats in the room act as a generously sized waiting area. The classic Storioni Trio plays along. “Shall we shorten the side a little more?” exclaims hairdresser Lotte (18), a little too loud for a suddenly quiet part of the resounding Felix Mendelssohn. Lotte thinks it is “a good promotion”, she says when the side is trimmed. “In a hair salon you have much more contact with people than here in such a large hall, so it is not fair that theaters are still closed.”
Director Edo Righini: „People think in boxes that do not exist. There are no people who play sports, people who shop and people who love culture. Those are the same people. It’s not fair to open one and keep the other closed. And we can continue to say that culture is valuable, it is better that we show it today.”
yogales in Museum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo. Photo Dieuwertje Bravenboer
There are seven twenty-minute wait performances on the program. When singer Anneke van Giersbergen starts, about thirty people are waiting. Enough for Van Giersbergen to start a wave through the ‘public’. At around 2:30 am, two plainclothes boas are standing in the foyer with a letter stating that they will check again tomorrow. If the concert hall is open again, a fine will follow.
2.15 pm Theater de Liefde, Haarlem
Hair salon De Liefde will remain open, says an older visitor with some certainty. Mayor Meinen also did not intervene when the catering industry opened for a day in protest, he says. “He will be mad if he intervenes now.” And then: “Young people need culture and entertainment! It is unfair how the cultural sector is treated.”
Comedian and chairman of the board of De Liefde, Mylou Frencken, tells in the theater that boas had been spotted around the building. “They have no business here, there are already boas inside.” She holds up a black, glittering scarf.”
Comedians Erik van Muiswinkel, Brigitte Kaandorp and actress Hadewych Minis, among others, act as background acts for the hairdressers. They enthusiastically applaud and sometimes even sing along. In the duo Vuile Hypochelaar they dare to dance sitting down to the lines ‘Let the sun in your heart, it shines for everyone anyway, enjoy life, it only takes a moment.’
— Arts ’92 (@Kunsten92) January 19, 2022
13:30 Nijmegen, Arthouse Lux
In arthouse LUX disco music blares from the speakers, now and then a curious passer-by pops in. “Until an hour ago, employees were still dancing,” says director Pien Houthoff. The action could not continue on the orders of Mayor Hubert Bruls – also chairman of the Security Council. LUX received two official warnings from the municipality, the institution would receive a penalty if the action continued, the director says. “The employee at the municipality said she found it ‘disappointing’ if she had to enforce,” said Houthoff. “That’s the world upside down. It is disappointing that they are maintaining. Closing the cultural sector and not shops is a total arbitrariness.”
Boas give a warning to culture palace Amare in The Hague, one of the participants of the Theater Kapsalon campaign. Photo ANP/ PHIL NIJHUIS
The Stadsschouwburg and the Thiemeloods, also in Nijmegen, decided to cancel their actions. “We really can’t pay that penalty now,” says Dinotra Heymans of the Thiemeloods.
In Deventer, MIMIK and the Deventer Schouwburg also decided to cancel their planned actions, after mayor Ron König acted. Last weekend he showed understanding about the demonstrations by shopkeepers and catering. “Of course I don’t want to end up in a situation where I come across our own shops and catering industry,” he told De Stentor. The cultural sector does not receive the same leniency. In a statement, König says that the previous actions have already fulfilled an important protest function. “Entrepreneurs and residents are done with the current restrictions. That clear signal has been picked up by the cabinet.”
— kees van amstel (@keesvanamstel) January 19, 2022
2:00 p.m. The Little Comedy
There are three hairdressing chairs on the stage, where Lies Visschedijk, like an accomplished hairdresser’s assistant, has one of the fifty people present in the hall during the performance. “The whole maintenance has been very easy so far,” says Diederik Ebbinge, presenter and initiator of Kapsalon Theater, at the start. Grinning: “The police just wave happily.”
Both players and audience are noticeably delighted to be back in the room. “It’s nice that something is finally happening again,” says comedian Rayen Panday. He alternates his story with pleasantly abrasive interaction with one of the hairdressers, who in the meantime cuts tirelessly. Unsurprisingly, the podium places in this setting are by far the most ‘dangerous’: the young stand-upper Bugra Gedik also provides the new hairstyles with witty commentary.
Comedian Freek de Jonge during the national protest action Kapsalon Theater in the Little Comedy in Amsterdam. Photo ANP/ EVERT ELZINGA
But the absurd fact that theater makers and comedians feel compelled to perform between tufts of hair and barber chairs can also be criticized. Brigitte Kaandorp is in any case not going to pretend that this is the most normal thing in the world, it is immediately apparent when she comes on stage: she calls it “a backward setting” and “completely ridiculous”. She grumbles with taste about the dress style of the hairdressers on duty (“an old T-shirt and trousers, what is that?”), she herself has put on a red show dress for the occasion.
Armed with a large stack of gossip magazines under her arm (“because that’s what you do at the hairdresser”), from which she quotes with mounting amazement, she shows the absurdity of this situation at its best. With deadpan facial expressions and dryly comical commentary, Kaandorp even turns gossip about Lil’ Kleine, Gerard Ekdom and Monique Smit into hilarious cabaret. At the end of her act, Jenny Arean joins her. Together they sing ‘I no longer cry, although I have lost my laughter’: you will not get a more striking sing-along for this playful protest afternoon. Except for the hairdressers and their customers, the audience sings along with all their heart.
It gets tense around three o’clock: the theater is summoned by municipal enforcers to stop the action. It ends with a sizzle: in the end, as planned, play continues until five o’clock in Kapsalon De Kleine Komedie.
With the collaboration of Jelle Brumsen, Rahul Gandolahage, Sander Janssens, Elsje Jorritsma, Ron Rijghard, Sandra Smallenburg, Marit Willemsen.