The New Continent is a play that deals with the corona pandemic without ever mentioning the c-word. The setting is the future: under the pressure of climate change, Greenland's ice has made way for fertile ground. A group of pioneers sets sail to start a new life there.
Once at sea, the ship proves unreliable – and the expedition leaders seem to be not dissimilar. Shut up in the hold, the ship adrift, the crew have to deal with their frightening and precarious situation. The parallels with the corona period are all too clear: everyone in it together, not by choice, risky conditions, little prospect of things changing for the better, and growing mutual distrust.
Director and scriptwriter Geert Niland has created a heroine, Alice, who dares to express doubt in the midst of chaos, “despite strong pressure to adopt a standpoint”. An unusual heroine then – after all, don't heroines take action without hesitating? – but just the heroine the crew needs and, who knows, maybe just what our country needs too. The reference to Heroes Like You, the lustrum theme celebrated by TU/e in its sixty-fifth year, is no coincidence: the playwriting has been a collaborative endeavor.
Niland has earned his spurs at TU/e; he has previous directed two musical theater productions for the university, Moulin Rouge (lustrum production 2011) and RENT (2013). Successes that are still talked about.
Half of the cast of twenty involved in The New Continent are students and employees of TU/e, among them members of theater association Doppio. International Theater Collective Eindhoven (ITCE) is also providing actors. The ranks of this collective include both members of the TU/e community and internationals working at ASML, for example, and other companies on the High Tech Campus.
“Culture contributes in valuable ways to making Eindhoven a good place to live for internationals,” says Niland. A view shared by TU/e and by Wonka Podia, a collaborative alliance of six theaters in the Brainport region that is also supporting the production. One of these podia is Eindhoven's Parktheater, where rehearsals are being held every Wednesday evening. In June 2022, performances of The New Continent will be held in Wonka's theaters.
The director is still seeking four actors to complete the cast: a farming couple (m+f, 40+), a crew member (m/f, approx. 50+) and a captain (f, 50+). “Students are also acting in the play, and I'm keen to place members of the academic and support staff alongside them. I like the interaction on stage between multiple generations.”
Niland invites those who are interested - preferably with acting experience but at least talented with guts - to send him an e-mail. The audition consists of performing an English monologue.