De Stentor about
The Tube

One-person theater from a tube is TAMTAM’s answer to corona restrictions 

It is alienating and intimate when you look into the tube all alone. You imagine yourself in a completely different world for a few minutes. The bright yellow car drives through a changing landscape in a tube of less than thirty centimeters in diameter, but a length of 2.60 meters. Well within the standards of the new one-and-a-half-meter reality.

Objektentheater TAMTAM from Deventer has created a one-person theatre performance. Certainly not a project with any hope of a good income. But a statement to the current era. “Theatre must stay. We must be creative to survive. It’s no use doing nothing.” Gérard Schiphorst glances around his tube through which the scene with the yellow car in the city can be seen.

The couple Gérard Schiphorst and Marije van de Sande were fed up with doing nothing after a few weeks. Gérard lay passively on the couch and drew a Social Distance Thing. “That was the working title. First a cloth on both sides. But that was not hygienic: you have to be able to look without touching anything.”

The sanitary installation company next to their workshop offered a solution: they just threw a mega tube away. “It’s crazy to build a performance in such a short period of time. You perfect it along the way. We now have The Tube ready. And we are developing the scenes we want to play.”

Dozens of objects have been collected from the storage in Deventer. TAMTAM has been playing object theatre all over the world for decades. This year alone Portugal, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and China were on the program. The people of Deventer are welcome guests in the Asian country. Just like last year, they would give masterclasses for a week at Being’s theatre academy. But it all fell away. Instead of weeks on tour abroad, the couple was suddenly stuck at home.

The Tube is the answer. “Slightly distracted from YouTube, which you’re done with after a few weeks”, Schiphorst grins. The couple rolls out the red carpet where the stripes are exactly one and a half meters away. There is even a contactless ATM where you can make your payment. “But of course, financially that’s not really feasible. We focus on parties, or small gatherings, where we just get a fixed amount. We have already received calls from people who are getting married and still want something nice.”

Playing through black cloth

Because it is a unique experience that only the viewer and the player see. Of course they are rehearsed scenes. Otherwise, it cannot be performed smoothly, while Gérard or Marije can only half see what they are doing through a black cloth. “But the great thing about real theatre is that there is always interaction. It matters who you play for. And we can alternate. Then the other person can monitor whether the corona guidelines are being observed.”

Whoever looks into the tube gets a total experience. Useless objects come to life. It’s the power of TAMTAM: getting inanimate things into a character without words. Music comes from the tube. Gérard specially composed two minutes tracks. Marije makes a mop and an egg come to life like a bird’s nest. Hospital gloves and orange pliers suddenly appear suspiciously like a special bird. “Hospital gloves are the waste of this time”, says the Deventer theatre set with a smile.

Angelique Rondhuis June 4, 2020

Angelique Rondhuis