We were blessed during 2011 to have a very special visitor. Jolien van Middelaar came to the United States from The Netherlands as part of her education to learn about The Torch Theatre and help with integrating our stage work with more digital tools. During her stay, she was an amazing asset and friend to The Torch. We’re big fans of anyone who decided to explore new lands, and we were excited to get a quick interview with Jolien before she left.
You have a wide area of knowledge in entertainment. You know stagecraft, production, editing, media, etc. What got you interested in those studies?
I learned English through watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer like a crazy person. I was so fascinated by the work of Joss Whedon, how his brilliant mind with help of others came together to be such an amazing product. My first real fascination for the media/television got started. Then when I studied in Michigan for a year and took television production and intro to theatre classes I LOVED it. I loved creating television shows, commercials and work on live productions. That’s when I decided that I wanted to study something with television. Since I want to keep studying in English the best major I found was International Media & Entertainment Management with a focus on production.
Your studies in The Netherlands involve you interning at a theatre in The United States. What have you learned here to take back to school with you?
The most important thing I learned is how important it is to create a community and maintain that community. It was empowering to see how many people feel so welcomed and happy to be at The Torch.
There are so many larger theatres in cities across the country. What made you interesting in reaching out to The Torch?
I wanted to be in Arizona and through internet research The Torch showed up. What I loved about the Torch is that I would learn about a different art form in the field of performance studies. I had little knowledge of what improv was exactly. It has been very inspiring and fun to get to know more about improv. And something new to add on my resume, improv will definitely stand out as not many people in The Netherlands are even aware of improv.
We’re big fans of explorers. As an explorer yourself, what parts of Phoenix have been most unexpected. What parts of your own home town would be the best parts for explorers to learn about?
I never expected Phoenix to be so big. I mean, it’s huge! I loved that one moment you are in downtown Phoenix hanging out in a bar and the next moment you can be on South Mountain, hiking and be away from everyone. It’s a nice mix. And as soon as it’s not so hot anymore Phoenix is actually a really fun city to walk around in and get to know. It’s so diverse. People are very friendly. I think what was most unexpected for me is that I really came to love Phoenix. Like I would walk around with an ‘I love Phoenix’ t-shirt and actually be proud of it.
You’ve also been studying improv while you’ve been here. What some of the things that you’ve discovered about improv as you’ve learned and performed here?
Improv is amazing for building your self-confidence, it’s a way to get out of your shell and do things you would normally not dream of doing, ever. Who would ever imagined I would play a gangster from New Years or a lesbian zombie (well actually that’s not that far from my comfort zone….). I knew improv was all about improvisation, but I never really understood the “art” of it all. It truly is very impressive.
Apollo 12 loves the idea of playfulness. You have brought to us the Dutch concept of Gezellig. Can you explain that a little bit?
It’s all about being together with people you love, hanging out and just having fun. Laughing, hanging out. It’s about a togetherness. It can be ‘gezellig’ with one friend, or with a whole bunch of people. It can also be ‘gezellig’ in a bar or a restaurant, because of the nice atmosphere.
As your “exploratory mission” comes to a close, what are your feelings as your final weeks in Arizona wind down?
Overall I have nothing but warm feelings for The Torch Theatre. I met so many amazing people, I got to take improv classes which was amazing and I learned a lot. Also I got a chance to explore Arizona and other parts of The United States. One thing I know for sure now is that I definitely want to live in The United States.