Gerald van Wilgen and Love Across Time and Place and Fringe
Gerald van Wilgen (“Gerhardus”) has an eye for a good story. He worked as a journalist in the Netherlands before he moved to the United States. He became an active member of the early 1990s South Street theater collaborative the Brick Playhouse, an institution which helped spawn the careers of dozens of local actors, directors, and playwrights. He moved to Nebraska to get an MA in theater from the University of Nebraska in Omaha; since his return he has produced and directed a variety of Fringe shows under hjs own name and as Ari Flamingo.
His 2018 Fringe Festival production, I ???? Adriaen (listed in the Fringe Guide as “I <3 AvdD”) is a time-spanning monologue about a scholar who fall who falls for Adriaen van der Donck, an ambitious Dutch lawyer born 400 years ago who had big plans for America. Van Wilgen spoke to FringeArts about the play, which opens tonight at Old Swedes Church in South Philadelphia.
FringeArts: What inspired the show?
Gerald van Wilgen: Van der Donck has always been on my to do list, but I never knew how or what to do with him. This guy was a rebel, but one who fought with his pen. When I interviewed Julie van den Hout for a magazine I work for about her biography of Adriaen van der Donck, she told me she liked him a little bit “too much.” I loved the idea of a scholar falling in love with her own subject. I put the two together and started working on it. When I was in the Netherlands, I visited Adriaen van der Donck’s hometown, Breda, there the story started to crystallize.
FringeArts: How would you describe your style of writing?
Gerald van Wilgen: Someone once described my style as “economic.”
FringeArts: What themes or message are you trying to convey?
Gerald van Wilgen: I’m an unassimilated immigrant living in two worlds simultaneously.
FringeArts: What do your director and performer bring to the project?
Gerald van Wilgen: Greg Giovanni directs and Amanda Schoonover performs. I know both from the Brick days. They are professional, easy to work with, elevate the production, and improve the play. After the first reading it became very clear where the text was at fault. It didn’t even needed to be said. I love that. I rewrote the whole thing.
FringeArts: What makes this an ideal show for the Fringe?
Gerald van Wilgen: Greg told me what he thought after he had read the first draft: either he doesn’t know what he is doing or he is a postmodernist. See? It’s an experiment. What makes a Fringe show worthwhile is that whoever does it takes a risk.
FringeArts: That’s true. Thanks Gerald!
What: I ???? Adriaen (listed in the Fringe Guide as “I <3 AvdD”)
When: September 18-21, 2018
Where: Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Church, 916 Swanson Street, South Philly
Created by Gerhardus