February 21 / Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

Armed with words

Language plays a leading role in Gevechten en metamorfosen van een vrouw, says ITA actress Marieke Heebink. "In the Houses of Parliament, on The Voice, it matters which words you use. Words can be violence."

By Irene Bloemink

"There is only one punch in the play, but the mother and the son are often violent towards each other: in how they say things." Marieke Heebink, who plays the mother's role: "She is violent with language, also towards herself , for example, if she's reciting some lines about what to do and repeating it all the time. She hides in it. I recognise that in myself: "I always have to do the cooking," I have sometimes said. I have taught myself to stop that: either you should do it differently, or do it and not whine, haha."

Houses of Parliament
"That is why Gevechten en metamorfosen van een vrouw is so topical and urgent: it is the same in the Houses of Parliament. It matters which words you use, in management, when interpreting things. There is a reason why talk shows are so popular: people want to give voice to something. Or when it comes to Corona: people are walking on the streets shouting "freedom, freedom", even going with a torch to Sigrid Kaag's house. What kind of situation are you in then?"

Fantasy world
"I was also shocked by the words of John de Mol. How he remains in his own fantasy world: "I showed him all the corners of the room." As if he had only just avoided beating Jeroen Rietbergen to death. He says this with a kind of hidden pride. Like when he says to the women: "If you don't report it, we can't do anything." This runs across generations, or classes. Words matter."

"That's what Gevechten en metamorfosen van een vrouw is all about: language and violence. The son breaks the cycle of poverty and violence by leaving for Paris and becoming a writer. He continues to confront the mother with her situation and that of his brothers. With words. He doesn't mince words and shows her in all her rage and violence. That is also a declaration of love. She eventually gets out, partly because she already had that glimmer of hope in her. She pushes her husband away and leaves the prison that her life was until then: the kitchen, the smell of smoke and chips. (I have to scrub that smell off every time after the show...)"

Im Herzen der Gewalt
Im Herzen der Gewalt

Heart and soul
"Majd Mardo and I are evenly matched. He gives himself, heart and soul, to his role, prepares very well. Remember, it's not his native language. That is unbelievably clever. He sometimes hits a hurdle, but always recovers. It is wonderful to play with him. I'm really looking forward to doing it again. It was actually just ready, now we can take it a step further. For the first time in the main hall of ITA, that big space, hopefully completely filled with an audience."