Hatta en de Kom
History is central and objective -at least, it should be, right? But where is the centre? Who tells the story?
The music theatre production Hatta en de Kom shows the effects of incomplete and one sided history telling regarding World War II in Holland. It shows the effects of not knowing the complete history of society. It shows the effects of decades of neglection of the role of Suriname and Indonesia, the countries that actually helped to build the Netherlands into what it is now.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 till 1945. In the Dutch education system, many names and many stories got well preserved and many also did not – including essential names like Mohammed Hatta and Anton de Kom. These are the two men who were the leading freedom fighters in this period of time for the independence of Indonesia and Suriname, also known as the former overseas Dutch colonies East – and West Indies. Hatta en de Kom created an intellectual understanding of resistance against an oppressive regime.
The education they got in the Netherlands, at Dutch universities, and the resistance movement against the Germans actually gave them the inspiration to follow through on these ideas. This happened while at the same time they also helped to fight for the freedom of the Netherlands first, to then focus on the liberation of Suriname and Indonesia.
The power and responsibility of those who write history is immense. You can inspire and change lifes with it. Not knowing where you came from or how you ended up being in a certain place can often bring challenges in finding your identity.
Together with her music theatre collective Sir Duke / Orkater Francesca created and performed Hatta en de Kom. In this performance, Francesca plays Mohammed Hatta and Dionne Verwey Anton de Kom. Two women playing two men, while also giving their own perspective on how history was given to them in this day and age.
The show got nominated for the BNG Bank Prize for most promising theatre maker group and still gets requested to be performed long after the initial tour was ended, which shows the need for a broader perspective in Dutch history telling. Francesca and Dionne will travel in 2019 to Jakarta, Indonesia, to co-create with young Indonesian artists about their storytelling on Hatta en de Kom.
Theaterkrant gave a four star review: “… For actresses Dionne Verwey and Francesca Pichel, the story of Hatta & De Kom is the story of their ancestors. Their own (grand) parents, uncles and aunts have experienced the struggle for independence up close. So history is not far away. The vulnerability of Verwey and Pichel shows the importance of history, and of being able to feel at home in a common story. The actresses have become freedom fighters of their own story. Fighting in a struggle to get their story told and heard within the larger picture. They won that battle with Hatta & De Kom. “