WELCOME SPEECH BACK IN AMSTERDAM
Press Conference August 12 2015 after an absence of 10 years
The Theatre Ship Azart – “The Ship of Fools” is a dreamed reality.
She has forged herself the privilege to devote herself to the Things That Really Matter.
That is, she lives in nature, always in the waters, with the birds, the waves and the winds.
That is, she lives amidst mankind, between peoples, cultures and languages, between customs, habits and culinary delights.
She lives with each other, with a crew of doers and thinkers who creates, shares and pursues a common goal.
She lives with and of the theatre, the arts – the highest and most vulnerable human value.
She sails without an address, without budget, possessions, accounting or bank statements.
She is a free republic, navigating between rules, laws and states.
She makes a journey that is both a world and life journey, a single journey without destination.
She is on a continual pilgrimage, In Praise of Folly – which this world so badly lacks.
In 1990 an opera tenor with the passion of a lawyer pursued the ship legally for five years, by chaining her.
In 2000 a Dutch polder was without electricity because they sailed on a seventeenth-century map.
In 2008 she lost her anchor and anchor chain that are still waiting under the mud in the bay of Marseille.
In 2013 in a bay in the Basque Country the sinking ship was barely rescued by the fire brigade.
She is in constant battle with the elements, between egos and against fears, often verging on the edge.
She is heir to a millennial tradition of an exuberant pagan spring ritual that turned into a Christian image of Doom.
The ship has always been a ship on wheels, the most folly chart in the carnival parade.
In the year 1133 a bunch of weaver servants towed a Blue Barge from Aachen to Maastricht provoking a trail of wild partying.
In his chronicles, the local Bishop described the ship as a “Diabolicam Technam”, an Instrument of the Devil.
She is a universal image of Mankind Adrift, of Society That Has Lost Its Bearings.
This image belongs to the very essence of the European heritage because she reverted the Holy Order of God and King and so put the World upside Down.
This image still inspires children and artists alike and provokes a spontaneous smile of the public, citizens and visitors and many of a harbour official.
“The Ship of Fools” offers Europe a vision and a story that represents her principal values.
In 2016 takes place the festive commemoration of the five-hundred anniversary of the death of the painter Hieronymus Bosch.
The visionary painter has left five compositions on the theme of The Ship of Fools.
One of his lost works, preserved in an engraving by Pieter van der Heyden, is called Die Blau Schyte – The Blue Barge.
The Dutch language has more ancient synonyms that describe its activities, such as “The Ship of Players” or “The Booze Boat”.
As a ship on wheels still exist synonyms as “The Wheel Cart” or “The Cart Ship”.
“The Blue Barge” is the new nickname of “The Ship Of Fools”.
The whole ship, the standing rigging and all ship items and furniture are painted in a mosaic of one hundred and eleven different tonalities of blue.
“The Ship of Fools” is a centenary, sail powered, ship with a riveted iron hull, for more than fifty years engaged with fishing herrings.
In 1929 the ship got her first engine and the captain a small wheelhouse to protect himself from the winds.
The Germans employed her five years as a warship.
For more then 30 years the ship was extended with eight meters.
In 1971 she was the very last ship using the technology of drifting nets, in a tradition that was invented in 1418 in Hoorn and that brought Holland prosperity and protein for more than five centuries.
In the seventies, she was prepared as a pirate radio station.
In the nineties she became The Opera Ship.
“The Ship of Fools” is heir to the ancient maritime traditions Amsterdam that served as her source of inspiration.
She owns her origin and existence to the Amsterdam skippers and mechanics – friends who keep on maintaining her maritime heritage.
She found her homeport on the Amsterdam KNSM Island that until the advent of aviation served as the National Arrival and Departure Port, as the window of Amsterdam to the world.
“The Ship of Fools” gave the city “Azart Square”, the central town square of this island, enclosed by four quays that are four destination: the Suriname Quay, the Sumatra Quay, the Java Quay and the Levant Quay.
Endpoint of Tram Ten is the start of a world tour.
Azartplein is a living ‘Lieu de Mémoire”, a place of remembrance of a history that is still written daily.
Azartplein is home to a contemporary seaman’s’ saga, a legend of encounters and creation written by theatre producers, broadcasters, filmmakers, musicians, designers, writers, graffiti artists, clothing designers, video makers …
“Azart” is an Arab word for flower that a thousand years ago became the name of a dice game that spread across Europe.
A flower was depicted on side six of the dice – and throwing this flower spelled instant loss.
With the game travelled the word throughout Europe, receiving different meanings:
“Bad luck” in Portuguese – azar
“Destiny” or “Fate” in Catalan or Spanish – atzar or azar
“A Bold Venture” in Italian – azzardo
“Opportunity” or “Chance” in French – l’hasard
“Danger” or “Risk” in English – hazard
In Russian “Azart” got the meaning of “The Passion To Put Everything At Stake”.
Beijing may have a “Tiananmen Square” (Square of Heavenly Peace) where tanks crush civilians, Amsterdam has its ” Square of Chanceful Inspiration “.
Alpha Zulu Alpha Romeo Tango
“The Ship of Fools” offers the city of Amsterdam contemporary East Indiaman – a Cultural Ambassador of a city that combines its maritime heritage with its potential as an international centre of the arts and media.
“The Ship of Fools” offers the city of Amsterdam in a contemporary journey to the Levant, a trip to the East along fifteen to twenty trading posts on the Dutch Trade Routes – for a cultural and artistic exchange with the people she meets – to share rather than to steal.
“The Ship of Fools” offers Amsterdam – and international – artists and creators a permanent artist in residence, a traveling Festival of Fools for one or two months in every port.
Ashore the crew builds a blue festival site, a creative village consisting of the ship as a stage and backdrop, a seating area for 250 people, a Garden of Delights, a Bestiarium of mythical fantasy creatures, a radio station, a tea house ..
This place serves as a temporary meeting place, a county fair of the arts, of performances, exhibitions, recordings, debats and banquets, where local artists are encouraged to participate.
The Festival of Fools is dedicated to the wonderful world of Hieronymus Bosch, the Descent into Hell of the Blue Barge on its way to Heaven.
Artists of all disciplines and backgrounds are welcome.
A central place has the theatre – as the most personal, direct and interactive art form, one of the Revolutionary Things That Really Matter.
The clue to the project always has been the selfless dedication of the hundreds of participating artists, united in the contemporary ‘Guild of the Blue Barge. ”
Her destination is the crossing of the Australian desert on wheels, as a modern “Cart Ship”, as the apotheosis of the thousand-year history of “The Ship Of Fools.”
Her Figure Head is a spoon and fork that signifies “Here We Come, We Are Hungry”.
Hungry for Everything That Feeds Life.
E La Nave Va! A Ship Must Sail On!