Because the complex personality of the main character of the musical Fela came across clearly enough in between the lines. And that didn’t detract in the least from the wonderful show, which is done fantastic justice in Theater Carré. Compelling music by a fantastic band, energetic dancers, good singers and an exciting story. And of course Fela himself – the man around whom the whole musical revolves. A unique person and possibly a genius, with an enormous influence on the development of jazz and pop music. But a ‘difficult’ man, to put it euphemistically, with a dubious character and personal behaviour to match.
Where have I heard that before? It corresponds exactly to the romantic image people like to have of the real artist: truly exceptional, but unbearable as a person. We ‘mediocre’ people like to believe that the artist has to pay for his incredible talent with some tough human defects. After all, you can’t have everything. We’d have liked to have been a genius too, but that would have meant an unhappy life, a couple of destructive addictions, an unmanageable personality and a premature death, unloved by everyone. So it’s better just to come into the world as a normal person. Thanks to the stereotypical image of the artist, we can be reconciled with our own mediocrity.
It’s just a shame that reality is different. There are plenty of renowned artists who have been happily married for years and lead well-ordered lives. And many who turn out very easy to get along with in everyday situations. But we’d prefer not to hear that. The need to divide the world up into simple images is too strong. Take, for instance, the archetype of the sportsman. Sportsmen and women are ‘normal, healthy Dutch boys’ and ‘nice girls’: models of self-discipline, hard work and perseverance. People soon forget the continually published stories about the riotous lives of fabulously rich footballers or the stimulants taken by the average racing cyclist. Henk and Ingrid just know that artists are undisciplined bon-vivants swallowing up our taxes, while sportsmen are hard-working model citizens.
Of course, your average accountant will have a more conformist character than your average painter. But politics, sport and the business world are also full of Fela Kutis: womanisers (DSK and Clinton), men with no sense of morality (Berlusconi, Madoff and Blatter) and ego-trippers (Sarkozy).
So it’s better we avoid stereotypes as far as possible and approach everyone with the least possible prejudice. That gives some surprising new insights. For instance, there may be a great artist hidden within Halbe Zijlstra. That technocratic exterior doesn’t necessarily say anything about his creative talents. Let’s be honest, he has after all written a letter that the whole art world waited for with baited breath and which was read by everyone. How many people can say the same about themselves? Surely that shows a certain talent? So maybe the creator in Halbe has now been awakened. Maybe it will be followed by a nice novella. Why not? Or maybe a few short stories first, and then a novel. Mincemeat Friday would be a good title. Or The Reckoning: The Executioner Strikes Again would be rather apt. Henk and Ingrid are looking forward to it already!< blog archive